Raynaud's phenomenon

Fingers white, blue, red and painful in the cold? You could be suffering from Raynaud's phenomenon.

More common in women, this is the name given to a sequence of colour changes observed in the fingers and toes (and sometimes the earlobe and tip of nose) when exposed to the cold. The smaller blood vessels in the extremities normally constrict under cold conditions, but in those individuals suffering from Raynaud's phenomenon, there is an exaggerated response. The sequence of colour change is usually from white ->blue ->red. The colour change can be associated with pain and tingling in the affected areas.

When very severe, the circulation to the fingers and toes can be permanently affected and cause damage to the tissues.

In most sufferers the condition is relatively mild and can be helped by limiting exposure to the cold and investing in good quality, fur-lined mittens (better than gloves) and boots. Occasionally, drugs that improve the circulation may be prescribed, however they can cause side effects.

Some people with Raynaud's phenomenon have underlying disease, but this is not very common

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