Raynaud’s Phenomenon is an autoimmune condition where blood flow is excessively reduced due to cold or emotional stress causing discoloration of the toes, fingers and sometimes other areas. With Raynaud’s, the smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting the circulation of blood to the affected areas.
Raynaud’s is divided into two categories. Primary Raynaud’s phenomenon (Raynaud’s disease) is when it is linked to pathogenesis, where the cause is unknown and attacks happen sporadically. Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon (Raynaud’s syndrome) which is a syndrome caused by a known disease. It is most commonly associated with connective tissue disorders like lupus. It can also be associated with certain medications, Lyme disease, hypothyroidism, MS and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Symptoms of Raynaud’s Phenomenon
- Skin turning pale or white when exposed to cold temperatures and the blood supply is markedly reduced.
- Skin turning blue (called cyanosis) when the oxygen supply is depleted.
- Skin returning to normal then to red followed by tingling, swelling and a painful ‘pins and needles’ sensation after the episode subsides.
Primary Raynaud’s is most common in young women starting between 15-25 years of age, or people living in colder climates. While secondary Raynaud’s often starts after the age of 35-40 in people who suffer from other associated medical disorders.
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