Raynaud's disease is characterized by a restriction of the blood circulation at the extremities, especially the fingers and toes (but sometimes the nose or ears), which then turn white. Whilst Raynaud's disease is often mild, in rare cases it can have serious repercussions. These include ulcers, scarring and even gangrene in very severe cases.
Raynaud's disease has the following easily identifiable symptoms:
- color change of the affected area in three phases: white then blue then red
- numbness or loss of sensitivity
- a sensation of pins and needles
Raynaud's disease can be mistaken with other conditions such as hyperventilation, chilbains (small, red patches that appear after being in the cold) or sleeping or resting on a body part. It is important to contact a doctor as soon as these symptoms appear so that Raynaud's syndrome can be diagnosed.
Raynaud's disease is most commonly triggered by cold temperatures, stress or anxiety. In certain cases it can also be linked to other conditions such as scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or atherosclerosis.
In order to avoid the onset of a Raynaud's disease attack, it is advisable to protect oneself from the cold (wearing many layers, a hat and gloves) and avoiding sudden changes in temperature. It is also important to know how to manage stress, which can trigger the disease. It is advisable to avoid drinking coffee and smoking as tobacco can trigger the tightening of blood vessels.
If you experience an attack of Raynaud's disease, it is important to stay warm to limit spasms. Place the affected extremities in warm water but be careful, as hot water would be too abrupt. Move your fingers and toes as much as possible in order to improve your circulation.