What Causes Raynaud's Disease

Do your fingers ever turn pale and feel cold despite it being a normal temperature? Cold fingers turning white is actually quite common. Around five percent of the U.S. population has the same ailment. While it is uncomfortable, only occasionally is it an indication of something more serious. So what is happening? That tingling and discoloration in your fingers and toes is actually a common affliction: Raynaud’s disease.

What is Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s syndrome is typically characterized by several symptoms: cold hands, cold feet, digits turning white and blue, and a tingling sensation in the affected areas. Due to poor circulation, the affected digits turn white and then blue, generating the uncomfortable numb or cold sensation that is typical of Raynaud’s. A red discoloration as well as a tingling sensation frequently follows episodes. But what is happening during a Raynaud’s episode? Typically attributed to cold temperatures or stress, spasms called vasospastic attacks result in vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of the blood vessels. This leads to poor circulation and blood flow to certain areas, hence why fingers turning white is a common characteristic of Raynaud’s. The length of each episode varies based on the individual, but many describe them as lasting around fifteen minutes. The age at which people experience Raynaud’s varies as well, however many of those affected are women in their teens and twenties.

What Causes Raynaud’s disease?

The cause of Raynaud’s disease depends on what type of Raynaud’s an individual has. Primary Raynaud’s, or Raynaud’s disease, usually has milder symptoms. Additionally, primary Raynaud’s tends to occur before the age of thirty and is not linked with another tissue disease. The specific cause is unknown. In contrast, secondary Raynaud’s, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, has worse symptoms. The harsher effects may include skin ulcers and gangrene. As opposed to primary Raynaud’s, secondary Raynaud’s is linked to other tissue diseases, such as Scleroderma, Lupus, Vasculitis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Those affected are often over the age of thirty, so the onset of symptoms after thirty may signal a more serious condition. In rare cases, secondary Raynaud’s can require the removal of one or more digits.

Moreover, Raynaud’s appears more frequently depending on activity. Those who work with vibrating construction tools such as jackhammers have a higher likelihood of getting Raynaud’s. Pianists and smokers are also more likely to develop Raynaud’s. However, lifestyle choices are not always the deciding factor in whether Raynaud’s appears, as it can be passed down genetically.

Primary Raynaud’s is not particularly harmful. Although the exact causes are unknown, it can be treated and includes milder symptoms. Secondary Raynaud’s is somewhat serious due to the severity of the symptoms. Moreover, its common link to other tissue diseases means that treatment relies on treating the tissue disease. Regardless, there are a variety of ways to treat Raynaud’s. 

Solutions and Treatments

Treatments for Raynaud’s vary from changing lifestyle choices to prescribed medication. First, having hand warmers nearby is a good way of keeping the skin warm and combating vasoconstriction, leading to better circulation. Additionally, running the affected digits under warm water can also alleviate symptoms. Since Raynaud’s can be stress-induced, avoiding stressful activities that risk causing Raynaud’s is also helpful. Based on the individual, doctors may prescribe medication intended to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation. This is not always an option, however, as it presents risks for those who already suffer from low blood pressure. In any case, using a natural cure for Raynaud’s is a strong option. Extremity Warmth provides a healthy method to solve the issue and rid oneself of its bothersome symptoms.