Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon, affects about 5%-10% of Americans.

Women are more likely to suffer from the disease than men. People suffering from Raynaud’s disease are affected by cold weather.

When the temperature drops, they may experience pain in their extremities (their hands and/or their feet).

The blood vessels in the extremities narrow down and almost completely shut down.

Toes or fingers will then go from white to blue until the blood returns, at which point they will flush red.

Fast Facts

  • Raynaud’s syndrome affects 5%-10% of Americans
  • The condition especially affects women and those in cold climates
  • Peripheral blood vessels overreact to cold
  • Can be diagnosed by undergoing a capillaroscopy
  • Named after Maurice Raynaud, who first discovered the condition in 1862

Symptoms

Raynaud's syndrome symptoms

People with Raynaud’s should keep their hands covered during the cold.

Raynaud’s syndrome often presents itself in cold climates.

When the weather turns cold, blood vessels contract in the extremities, leading to a lack of oxygen called hypoxia.

Extremities will feel either cold or numb to the touch.

When going through an episode, the parts affected will often turn white and then blue.

Blood flow will return as the affected parts are warmed, at which point they will generally turn a red flush.

You may also experience a tingling, throbbing sensation and painful swelling once the blood flow returns.

Raynaud’s syndrome episodes usually last 15 minutes, including recovery time.

While the most commonly affected parts are the fingers and toes, Raynaud’s syndrome can also affect the ears, nose, and lips.

Women may also experience Raynaud’s syndrome in the nipples, especially when breastfeeding.

They may experience severe throbbing in the area. This is often misdiagnosed as a fungal Candida albicans infection.

Treatment

Raynaud's syndrome symptoms

Soaking hands in warm water may alleviate flare-ups.

Currently, there is no cure for Raynaud’s syndrome.

However, there are a couple of ways to manage the symptoms.

Those suffering from mild versions of the condition can cover their skin before going out into the cold, especially the extremities.

If suffering from an episode, soaking the affected areas in warm water may help.

Make sure the water is warm and not hot. If you notice that stress may affect flare-ups, learn different ways to manage your stress levels.

Those suffering from moderate to severe cases may need medication. Consult your doctor if this is the case.

Coping with Raynaud’s syndrome

Raynaud's syndrome symptoms

Avoid emotional stress as much as you can.

Those who suffer from Raynaud’s syndrome can learn what triggers flare-ups and how to avoid them.

The following are recommendations by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for how to manage the condition:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Avoid any medicines/substances that may cause flare-ups
  • Exercise
  • Avoid emotional stress as much as possible
  • Stay warm when the temperature drops

To prevent any serious complications, the NHLBI also recommends meeting with a physician to discuss treatment options.

This is especially recommended to people who develop sores on their extremities.