In people who have Raynaud's, the small blood vessels in the extremities are over-sensitive to changes in temperature. This causes a Raynaud's attack where the fingers (and sometimes toes) may change colour, usually but not always, from white, to blue, to red. Colour changes are often accompanied by pain or a tingling feeling. A Raynaud's episode can be a very uncomfortable, possibly painful, process. It can also make everyday tasks, like buttoning a jacket or unzipping a purse, very difficult.
Raynaud's symptoms generally affect the fingers and toes, but all extremities can be involved, including the hands, feet, ears, nose and nipples. Symptoms of Raynaud's are a colour change in the extremities, cold extremities and numbness, tingling or pain.
There are two types of Raynaud’s phenomenon:
- Raynauds alone or ‘primary’ Raynauds – this is very common and causes no long term problems. Episodes may be short lived and be prevented by keeping the hands and feet warm. Primary Raynauds often runs in families. Some medicines may help managing primary Raynauds.
- Raynauds with another condition or ’secondary Raynauds’– this is quite rare and occurs for example in association with lupus. Secondary Raynauds may cause problems such as skin ulcers and patients with this condition should be managed by a rheumatologist who can provide expert medical care.