Raynaud's disease causes your fingers or toes to respond to cold temperatures or stress by turning white to blue, then red as blood flow returns to the extremities. The condition is caused by blood vessels narrowing and restricting blood flow.
Discoloration of skin occurs due to reduced blood flow to the local tissues caused by the abnormal vessel spasms. Affected areas of the body initially turn white because of hypoxia and reduced blood flow. They then turn blue indicating cyanosis due to prolonged lack of oxygen. Finally, the blood vessels reopen, causing a flush phenomenon around the local area that turns the area red.
Women are more likely to have Raynaud's disease, and it is more common in people who live in colder climates.
The following conditions are often associated with Raynaud's disease:
What are the symptoms of Raynaud's disease?
Patients with mild form of Raynaud's disease may only notice skin discoloration upon cold exposure. If sustained blood vessel spasms occur, the sensory nerves become irritated by the lack of oxygen and can cause pain in the involved digits.
Signs of Raynaud's disease may include:
How is Raynaud's disease treated?
Treatment of Raynaud’s disease depends on the severity of symptoms, as well as the person’s age and overall health. In most cases, symptoms can be managed conservatively:
- Limiting exposure to cold
- Keeping the extremities warm with gloves, socks, scarf, or hat
- Quitting smoking
- Wearing finger guards
- Protecting hands from trauma or vibrations
- Taking blood pressure medications such as vasodilators and calcium channel blockers during the winter months to help reduce blood vessel constriction
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Raynaud's PhenomenonRaynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a pale-blue-red sequence of color changes of the digits, most commonly after exposure to cold. Occurring as a result of spasms of blood vessels, the cause is unknown. Symptoms and signs of Raynaud's phenomenon depend on the severity, frequency, and duration of the blood vessel spasm. Treatments include protection of the digits, medications, and avoiding emotional stresses, smoking, cold temperature, and tools that vibrate the hands.
Skin Problems and Treatments: Causes of Skin DiscolorationToo much sun, certain diseases, and medication can change your skin color. Learn more about skin discoloration.
What Are Human Blood Vessels?Blood vessels are small tube-like structures through which blood circulates throughout the human body. The blood vessels transport oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and organs and remove carbon dioxide and waste away from the tissues and organs.
What Causes Skin Discoloration?Skin discoloration may result from several factors, such as excessive sun exposure, hormonal fluctuations, autoimmune diseases and genetics.