Approximately 75 percent of people diagnosed with primary Raynaud’s phenomenon are women between the ages of 15 and 25, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Raynaud's is known to affect more women than men.
Raynaud’s phenomenon, also known as Raynaud’s disease, is a condition that impinges on the blood vessels. Smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin constrict, limiting blood circulation to affected areas. Risk factors include your gender, age, where you live and your family history.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, those with the disorder have more Raynaud’s attacks during periods of colder weather.
In response to cold temperatures or emotional stress, Raynaud’s disease causes some areas of your body (fingers, toes, the tip of your nose and your ears) to feel numb and cool.
In primary Raynaud's phenomenon this condition occurs on its own. When it occurs with another condition such as scleroderma or lupus, it is called secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Primary Raynaud’s phenomenon is thought to be an exaggeration of normal responses to cold temperature or stress.
Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon is a result of another health problem. It tends to begin later in life than the primary form, typically after 35 to 40 years of age, whereas primary Raynaud’s occurs between the ages of 15 and 25.
The most common cause of secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon is connective tissue disease. Some of these diseases reduce blood flow to the fingers and toes by causing blood vessel walls to thicken and the vessels to constrict too easily.
Other causes include smoking, previous injury to toe or finger, diseases of the arteries, injury due to overuse and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Severe cases of Raynaud’s phenomenon — usually of the secondary form — can lead to problems such as skin ulcers (sores) or gangrene (tissue death) in the fingers and toes.
There are three phases of skin color change once a Raynaud’s phenomenon attack begins. The skin color changes from white to blue to red, but not all may occur.