Color changes in fingers and toes may be 1st sign of Raynaud's syndrome

Although Raynaud's is not life-threatening, if you noticed your fingers or toes turning red, white and blue this winter, you should speak to your dermatologist. For some, Raynaud's is the first sign of underlying illness, and there may be lifestyle changes and medical treatments that can help.



Raynaud's occurs when blood vessels in the fingers or toes suddenly narrow or spasm, leading to a blue discoloration, followed by a sharply demarcated pale white discoloration, and finally, a red discoloration. It can often be symmetric, affecting fingers on both hands. The phenomenon was first described by the 19th century French medical student Maurice Raynaud.


In the U.S., we are entering Raynaud's season. The phenomenon is classically triggered by cold, but can also occur with vibration or emotional stress. It has been described occupationally in people who operate weed whackers and jackhammers.


Raynaud's can be split into two categories: Primary Raynaud's, also called Raynaud's disease, and Secondary Raynaud's, when the changes occur in the context of an underlying condition. For those who suffer from Raynaud's, it's not only the winter months that trigger flares, sometimes even a trip to the frozen aisle of the grocery store on a summer day is enough to bring it on.


Symptoms of Raynaud's may include numbness, tingling, discomfort and even throbbing pain. People who develop ulcers at the tips of the fingers should seek timely medical evaluation as breaks in the skin can lead to infection.


Don’t panic. Fortunately, most people with Raynaud's have the primary version and do not have to worry about an underlying disease. Flareups typically last 15 to 20 minutes, and gradually go away as you warm up. People who notice this phenomenon should bring it up to their primary care doctor or dermatologist, as conditions that go along with Secondary Raynaud's may be silent and Raynaud's may in fact be the first warning sign. These conditions include autoimmune diseases such as systemic sclerosis, dermatomyositis and lupus, which can have devastating effects on the entire body.


The first thing you should do to keep from getting Raynaud's flareups is avoiding triggers.

If symptoms do develop, your primary care doctor may prescribe you a medication. Blood pressure medications have been repurposed due to their effect on relaxing the blood vessels in fingers. For patients with very severe Raynaud's, who have ulcerations, Botox injections can even be helpful.


For any questions or if concerned you may have Raynaud’s… Immediate appointments are available in all our locations; Sugarloaf, Mechanicsburg, Leola, Camp Hill, Bethlehem and Gilbert… Call now or click to schedule online.

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