Raynaud's Disease / Phenomenon

Raynaud's Disease is actually not a disease of the skin - it is caused by blood circulation problem. In this condition, the skin color in the tips of the fingers and toes change color when exposed to changes in temperature.

This condition is named after Maurice Raynaud (1834-1881), a French physician who first desribed its symptoms.

How do I Pronounce it?


Raynaud's Disease Symptoms

The symptoms of Raynaud's Disease are:

  • Color change in the fingers, toes, and earlobes when exposed to cold or stress
  • When warmed, the skin color turns back to normal
  • Burning, tingling and pin-and-needles sensation during color change

In rare, severe cases, gangrene can develop at the tip of the fingers.

Causes of Raynaud's Disease

The change in skin color is caused by the constriction or narrowing, or spasm of blood vessels in the finger, toes, and earlobes. This causes blood flow to the area be reduced, and the skin color to turn white (pallor).

White discoloration of the fingers in Raynaud's Disease

When the oxygen supply to the area is depleted, the skin color turn blue (cyanosis). When blood returns to the area, the skin color turn red (rubor).

Classic Raynaud's Disease include all 3 color changes. However, they do not always occur in all people or in all flare-ups of the condition.

Who Gets It?

Raynaud's Disease occurs most often in young women between 18 and 30 years of age, and may be accompanied by other illnesses such as arthritis, scleroderma and lupus.

When it occurs only by itself, it is called Raynaud's Disease or Primary Raynaud's. When accompanied by other disease, it is called Raynaud's Phenomenon or Secondary Raynaud's.

Prevention of Raynaud's Disease

If you have Raynaud's Disease, you can prevent its occurrence by:

  • Keeping warm by wearing warm clothes, gloves, and socks
  • Avoiding touching cold or frozen objects, or using gloves
  • Avoiding stress
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Avoiding taking decongestants or diet pills that contain phenylpropanolamine

Treatment of Raynaud's Disease

Raynaud's Disease treatment include:

  • Prescription medicine
    You doctor may prescribe medicine that dilate or enlarge blood vessels, such as the calcium channel blockers nifedipine and diltiazem.

  • Biofeedback training
    This technique is used to gain control over skin temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and other involuntary body functions.

  • Surgery
    In rare cases, a surgery called sympathectomy, where nerves that affect the blood vessels and cause them to constrict in the fingers are cut. This procedure is not necessary in most cases, and have varied level of success.

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