Cold White Fingertips: Raynaudís Symptoms
28 September 2015 | John
Cold white fingertips are a common symptom of mild Raynaud’s Disease (also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, Raynaud’s syndrome or simply Raynaud’s), which is a condition which causes blood vessels in extremities to contract, reducing blood flow (typically) to fingers and toes. When this happens, it is known as a Raynaud’s attack.
In most mild cases of Raynaud’s disease, the fingertips and other parts of fingers become white and blotchy. Typically, this goes away after a few minutes and the skin’s natural colour returns. However, because Raynaud’s is typically caused by cold temperatures, if the hands do not warm up the fingers can turn blue because of the reduced oxygen supply.
Because oxygen is carried around the body by blood, and because Raynaud’s causes blood vessels to contract (reducing blood flow) the cells in the affected parts of skin can’t get the oxygen they need.
Once the hands heat back up, the blood vessels open up and increase the blood flow to the correct levels. This makes skin turn red and potentially swell and become painful. After a short while the pain and swelling goes down and the skin returns to its normal colour.
The reason fingertips undergoing a Raynaud’s attack can be cold is twofold. Firstly, Raynaud’s attacks are typically triggered by cold temperatures so the fingers are probably cold to begin with. Secondly, the reduction of blood flow causes a loss of sensation, which as well as causing the fingertips to be numb and white can also cause them to feel cold.
When the blood vessels open back up again and the blood starts to flow back into your fingers, they will feel warmer and the feeling will return in them. However, this can be painful and the sudden rush of blood can cause a burning sensation as it heats your fingers back up.
Protecting Against Cold White Fingertips
The most obvious and best way to protect against a Raynaud’s attack in fingers is to wear gloves. This directly helps to keep hands warm, and the best gloves for the job are silver gloves. These contain silver thread, and provide an incredible amount of heat retention.
The reason silver gloves work so well is that silver is one of the best materials for reflecting heat energy. This means that nearly all of your natural body heat which would be lost through your hands is captured, keeping them warmer for longer.