Raynaud's Phenomenon

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideLupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment

Lupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment

What is Raynaud's phenomenon?

Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) is a condition resulting in a particular series of discolorations of the fingers and/or the toes after exposure to changes in temperature (cold or hot) or emotional events. Most people with RP have sensitivity to cold. Skin discoloration occurs because an abnormal spasm of the blood vessels causes a diminished blood supply to the local tissues. Initially, the digit(s) involved turn white because of the diminished blood supply. The digit(s) then turn blue because of prolonged lack of oxygen. Finally, the blood vessels reopen, causing a local "flushing" phenomenon, which turns the digit(s) red. This three-phase color sequence (white to blue to red), most often upon exposure to cold temperature, is characteristic of RP.

Raynaud's phenomenon most frequently affects women, especially in the second, third, or fourth decades of life. People can have Raynaud's phenomenon alone or as a part of other rheumatic diseases. Raynaud's phenomenon in children is essentially identical to Raynaud's phenomenon in adults. When it occurs alone, it is referred to as "Raynaud's disease" or primary Raynaud's phenomenon. When it accompanies other diseases, it is called secondary Raynaud's phenomenon. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 5/13/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Kasper, D., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2015.

Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Ruddy, Shaun, et al., eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2001.

IMAGES:

1. MedicineNet

2. "A thermal image demonstrating the loss of heat in a Reynaud's sufferer" by Joe m2013 - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

3. iStock

4. eMedicineHealth - Image courtesy of Shabir Bhimji, MD / Tcal at English Wikipedia / Walt Fletcher at English Wikipedia

5. Getty Images

6. iStock

7. iStock

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