What you need to know about Raynaud’s Disease- the disease that turns your fingers and toes blue

The minute your body is exposed to cold temperatures, or you touch something cold, your extremities start to turn blue!  Have you experienced this, or know someone that has?  It could be a case of Raynaud’s Disease.  Fingers and/or toes that become numb, prickly or sting and also change color, such as white or blue when exposed to cold temperatures, are often the result of vasoconstriction (extreme narrowing of the blood vessels).

The disease causes an interruption of blood flow to the fingers, toes, nose, lips and/or ears when a spasm occurs in the blood vessels of these areas. Spasms are caused by exposure to cold or emotional stress.  Typically, the affected area turns white, then blue, then bright red over the course of the attack.  There may be associated tingling, swelling, or painful throbbing.  The attacks may last from minutes to hours.  In severe cases, the area may develop ulcerations and infections, which can lead to gangrene.

Here are some tips on avoiding a Raynaud’s attack:

  1. Manage stress.
  2. Dress warmly and in layers.
  3. Limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
  4. In cold weather or when exposed to air conditioning or cold temperatures wear gloves. Mittens are even better protection. Use these even when handling frozen or refrigerated foods.
  5. Carry hand and foot warmers.
  6. Use insulated drinking glasses or mugs. Place a napkin or insulating material around them to protect your fingers from becoming cold.
  7. Place hands under warm (not hot) water to warm them up quickly.
  8. Don’t smoke. Smoking narrows blood vessels and makes Raynaud’s worse.
  9. Swing arms around in a windmill fashion to get the circulation going quickly.

If you believe you are suffering from Raynaud’s or have any concerns call Dr. Hollander today for an evaluation, 707-578-1222.

For further reading: http://www.raynauds.org/