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Dr. David Trentham of Harvard Medical School reported to the International Society for Rheumatic Studies in Boston, Massachusetts that an inexpensive antibiotic called minocycline helps to alleviate the destruction caused by scleroderma, a progressive destructive disease that until now had no effective treatment and is often fatal.

Scleroderma is a disease characterized by skin that becomes so stiff that it looks and feels like leather, fingers that turn blue and hurt on exposure to cold, a terrible arthritis that freezes and deforms joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, an esophagus that is so scarred and deformed that swallowing becomes difficult and eventually impossible, heart, lung and kidney scarring that causes heart failure, shortness of breath and kidney failure, low thyroid function, dry vagina and eyes, impotence, calcium deposits under the skin and large blood vessels to become visible on the skin. Although no bacteria has been isolated from people with this disease, it could be an infection because many tests for an overactive immunity are positive. The usual treatment is with drugs, such as penicillamine, that are not very effective. Many doctors are skeptical about Dr. Trentham's treatment, but he is a highly respected researcher with impeccable credentials, the treatment is far safer than anything else, and no other treatment has been shows to help treat scleroderma.

I prescribe minocycline 100 mg twice a day (some doctors use higher doses). I tell my patients to restrict sunlight as it increases their chances of being sunburned, take the pills with plenty of water and eat afterwards to push the pills down into the stomach as they can cause an irritation of the esophagus, and to stop the medication and call me if they suffer diarrhea or other possible side effects. 50% of people with localized scleroderma or morphea have blood evidence of infection with Lyme disease. Many can be cured with a long course of doxycycline, azithromycin or clarithromycin. However, this is controversial and not accepted by many doctors; discuss it with your doctor.

Treatment of reactive arthritis

Andrew Franks Jr. of New York University, Department of Dermatology

Checked 10/22/10

May 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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