What is Morphea?

Morphea is a skin condition where the skin becomes thick and hardened because it contains too much collagen as well as other proteins. This conditions presents itself through discolored patches of skin on the chest, abdomen, arms and legs, and the back. There are several types of Morphea and each kind presents itself differently.


General Morphea

Begins as plaque on the body which increases in size and can possibly merge together.

Plaque Morphea

Is normally an oval shape with an off-white or yellowish color in the center with purple or blue around the edges. It may feel thick and wax-like.

Linear Morphea

Appears on the skin in lines. It will show itself on the arm or leg, and may possibly occur on the face.

What are the Symptoms of Morphea?

Morphea creates patches on the skin referred to as “plaques” or “lesions”. Morphea will normally start with a white-colored patch with a purple or blue outline. It might show the appearance similar to that of a bruise. It can look very different between two patients.

Morphea Causes

Morphea is also recognized as localized scleroderma – it’s an autoimmune disease and a chronic connective tissue disorder, appearing when our immune system attacks the skin’s surface or underlying muscles and joint tissues. The trigger can be infections from measles or chickenpox, repeat traumas or an injury to the skin.

The most common type of morphea affects the skin only. Medical treatments like radiation therapy or extreme exposure to the environment can prompt the disorder’s reaction to a specific area of the skin. The change to the skin’s surface is a small, discolored oval patch.

The primary source is an exaggerated production of collagen causing inflammation of the skin, contributing to the skin hardening. The severity of the affliction can scar the lungs or kidneys. In some instances, blood vessels will thicken, damaging the tissue and instigating high blood pressure. The condition can happen at any age, but it appears prevalent in children under the age of 12 and women.

How is Morphea Treated?

There is no known cure for Morphea. Thankfully there are treatment options for reducing the inflammation, to stop the pain from lesions and prevent new ones from appearing.

You may be given ointment or creams to put on the skin. A dermatologist or other health professional can prescribe the best possible option as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Regular monitoring of the condition will be necessary to ensure treatment progresses. Testing may be required to see if the Morphea has formed in the deeper parts of the tissue and skin.

Morphea Prevention

There is no cure for morphea, but there are several forms of treatments to diminish the skin’s irritation and restore the immune system. Early detection is the best prevention for health conditions. If you are experiencing skin complications, you need to talk with your doctor at once.

Depending on your medical history and ongoing health, the condition may improve on its own over the course of several years. Talk with your doctor about the severity of the condition and the long-term effects. In acute cases, doctors may prescribe medications to help reduce the inflammation and prevent the disorder from spreading.

Self-treatment includes moisturizers and topical medications to heal and soften the skin. Taking fewer hot showers will slow down any advancement of the condition.

Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
March 09, 2018