Background: Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) is a very common clinical sign in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). Within the same country, its prevalence may vary depending on climactic changes. Usually, it predates the onset of cutaneous involvement in SSc, but in rare cases, it can follow the skin changes in these patients. Its evolution differs in the two subsets of SSc (limited and diffuse) and can serve as a clinical pointer to differentiate between the two disease subsets.
Objective: To study the prevalence of RP in SSc and report its relationship with the onset and with the subsets of SSc.
Methods: A prospective observational study of 56 patients with SSc was carried out at the Postgraduate Department of Dermatology, STDs and Leprosy of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Kashmir, India.
Results: Of the 56 patients, 40 (71.4%) had limited SSc (lSSc) and 16 (28.6%) had diffuse SSc (dSSc). Raynaud’s phenomenon was seen in 54 (96.4%) of the 56 patients, comprising 39 (97.5%) of the 40 patients with lSSc and 15 (93.8%) of the 16 patients with dSSc. Thirteen (81.3%) patients with dSSc and two (5%) patients with lSSc had a short history (less than one year) of RP preceding the skin changes. Twenty-six (65%) patients with lSSc and only two (12.5%) patients with dSSc had a long history (more than one year) of RP preceding the cutaneous manifestations. Six (15%) of the 40 patients with lSSc had a simultaneous onset of RP and skin changes. In five (12.5%) of the 40 patients with lSSc, RP followed the skin changes.
Conclusion: Raynaud’s phenomenon was very common in these patients with SSc. Patients with lSSc had a longer history of RP compared with those with dSSc. It could occur simultaneously with skin changes or even postdate the onset of skin changes.