Ever noticed that your fingers or toes turn really blue or white when they're cold? And not just in cold weather, but when they're chilled from holding something right out of the fridge or when you're walking through the freezer section of the supermarket.
You may have Raynaud’s disease. The New York Times says, “Five to seven percent of all otherwise healthy women have primary Raynaud’s.”
Primary Raynaud’s means that there is no other illness or condition that is causing this sensitivity to cold to happen. For those people, having Raynaud’s may just be an annoying inconvenience.
However, those with more severe symptoms may have secondary Raynaud’s. The appearance of Raynaud’s may be the first symptom of an autoimmune disease such as lupus or scleroderma.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) stated that about 9 out of 10 people who have scleroderma have Raynaud's. About one out of three people with lupus has Raynaud's.
Dr. Hal Mitnick, a clinical professor of medicine at New York University and a rheumatologist serving on the board of the Raynaud’s Association told the New York Times that 20 years can pass before a person may develop that autoimmune illness.
Other causes of secondary Raynaud’s are:
- Vascular diseases that damage arteries or nerves in the feet or hands
- Injuries to the feet or hands
- Exposure to chemicals
- As a side effect of medications.
During a Raynaud’s attack, there is vasospasm of the arteries that supply blood to the area involved. The affected area usually first turns white, then blue and feels cold and numb. As blood returns, the areas may turn red, throb, tingle or burn.
The National Health Institute (NHI) stated that 40 percent of people with Raynaud’s get it in their toes. The nose, ears, nipples, or lips are rarely affected. The attack can also occur on different digits each time an attack happens.
If you notice these types of skin circulation changes occurring, it is a good idea to go see your doctor. There are tests that can help determine what type of Raynaud’s disease a person has.
The first is an in-office test called a nailfold capillaroscopy.