Raynauds syndrome or disease can be painful and irritating. Raynaud’s is a condition where blood vessels in the fingers and toes (and sometimes in the earlobes, nose, and lips) narrow and cause the skin to turn a pale or patchy red to blue. The affected body part may feel cold and numb.
It can be triggered by cold or stress. The episodes may come and go and can last minutes or hours. Women are five times more likely to have Raynaud’ s than men. It usually occurs between the ages of 20 – 40 in women, and later in life for men.
There is primary Raynauds, which exists by itself, or secondary Raynauds which is a result of other conditions (such as scleroderma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis). Although some cases may be severe, remarkably often Raynaud’ s does not cause permanent damage.
Signs and Symptoms:
•Changes in skin color in the fingers or toes and sometimes in the nose, legs, or earlobes (may occur in three phases: white, blue, then red) •Throbbing, tingling, numbness, and pain
•Deterioration of the pads on fingertips or toes (rare; in severe cases) •Gangrenous ulcers near fingertips (rare; in severe cases)
What Causes It?:
It is unknown what causes primary Raynaud’s. Researchers think that when people with Raynaud’ s get cold or feel stress, their blood vessels overreact and constrict more than they do in people without Raynaud’ s. Some of the research is showing that the following may contribute to Raynauds: •Cigarette smoking
•Age in women (Raynaud’ s tends to occur between the ages of 20 – 40, although secondary Raynaud’ s tends to occur later) •Occupation (for example, using vibrating tools such as chain saws and jackhammers) •Using some medications, including some cancer drugs, narcotics, and over-the-counter cold medications •Previous frostbite
•Repetitive physical stress (for example, typing or playing the piano) •Carpal tunnel syndrome
•Other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), and
Many times you can help prevent symptoms of Raynaud’ s. One of the most crucial things you can do is to stop smoking. Nicotine shrinks arteries and decreases blood flow. Other ways you can help prevent symptoms include: •Keep your hands and feet warm and dry
•Warm your hands and feet with warm water
•Avoid air conditioning
•Do not smoke
•Use chemical warmers, such as small heating pouches that can be placed in pockets, mittens, boots, or shoes. •Guarding against cuts and other injuries to affected areas •Avoiding caffeine
•Exercising to increase circulation
•Avoid medicines that make symptoms worse
Often, this may be enough to manage Raynaud’s phenomenon. There are several types of drugs that are used to treat Raynaud’s: •Calcium-channel blockers — may reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. These drugs include: •Nifedipine (Procardia)
•Verapamil (Calan, Isoptin)