What Is Raynaud’s Syndrome?

Cold weather isn’t the only reason why your fingertips may turn white.

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Your hands have been particularly sensitive lately. At first, you thought it was just a reaction from the cold, but it’s starting to happen more frequently. After meeting with your doctor, they mention something called Raynaud’s syndrome.

Thankfully, Raynaud’s is relatively harmless most of the time. In fact, around 5 percent of people in the United States have Raynaud’s syndrome, according to the National Institutes of Health. In other words, it’s quite possible you might already know someone who has it.

What Does Raynaud’s Syndrome Do?

Raynaud’s syndrome causes reduced blood flow to your fingers and/or toes. This can lead to changes of skin color and a constant sense of tingling.

A few tell-tale signs of Raynaud’s include:

  • Extreme skin sensitivity when exposed to the cold
  • Pale, white, and blue fingers (especially when exposed to the cold or stress)
  • Tingling and mild discomfort
  • Possibly swollen, red, and painful hands when the affected area warms up again
  • Sores and gangrene on the finger pads can develop in severe cases

The condition can either happen on its own (primary form), or as part of an underlying condition (secondary form). Either way, the exact cause of Raynaud’s syndrome is unknown. It’s sometimes linked to blood disorders or extra sensitive receptors in the blood that control the vessels.

Risk Factors

Certain factors that make you more prone to Reynaud’s include:

  • Chemical exposure
  • An autoimmune condition or connective tissue disease
  • Trauma or injury
  • Taking certain medications
  • Repetitive actions (like playing an instrument, typing, or using vibrating tools)

How To Manage It

There is no cure for Raynaud’s, but there are tips for managing it. This may include not smoking (it aggravates Raynaud’s) and finding ways to cope with stress. Another important tip is avoiding exposure to the cold. For example, it may help to wear gloves, socks, and a hat to stay warm in cold weather.

Living with Raynaud’s isn’t the easiest. Talk to your doctor if your Raynaud’s syndrome is stemming from an underlying condition. They can share tips about ways you can control it, which might lead to a decrease in Raynaud’s attacks.