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Raynaud's phenomenon

2-minute read

Raynaud's phenomenon (or Raynaud's disease) is a condition causing some areas of the body to feel numb and cool in response to cold temperatures or stress. Women are more commonly affected, with about one in 20 people experiencing Raynaud’s phenomenon at some stage in their lives. It is also more common in colder climates.

Raynauds is caused by temporary disruption to blood flow in small blood vessels in the extremities. You are mostly likely to get Raynauds in your fingers, toes, tip of the nose, lips and ears.

It causes the skin to turn blue and feel numb and cold. When the episode is over, blood rushes back to the area and makes it tingle and throb.

Most people with this condition have primary Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is often mild and does not have a clear underlying cause. Some people have secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon where there is an underlying cause such as an autoimmune disease.

If you experience Raynaud’s phenomenon, you should discuss it with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend medications or find an underlying cause, which can be treated.

Here are some tips to help you prevent further episodes of Raynaud's from occurring.

  • Dress warmly, including wearing a hat to stop body heat escaping from the top of your head.
  • Don’t get wet.
  • Wear gloves, a scarf and warm socks on cool days.
  • Try to avoid changes in temperature, which can bring on an attack.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.
  • Exercise to increase blood flow.

If you have an attack, get warm and wiggle and massage your fingers and toes. If the attack is caused by a stressful situation, try to remove yourself.

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Last reviewed: August 2020

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