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​Freezing Fingers: Raynaudís Symptoms

21 September 2015

Frosty fingers are the most common signs of Raynaud’s Disease and a sure sign that an “attack” is underway. Triggered by changes in temperature that can be caused by the weather, holding a frosty drink or even reaching into the fridge for something, a Raynaud’s Phenomenon attack causes the blood vessels of the hands (and sometimes the toes, lips, ears or nose) to spasm. These spasms cause poor circulation and stopped blood flow and eventually causes the affected area to turn white. 

The attack is the body’s attempts to save you from the cold, but is a little too much of a good thing. When the body faced with cold temperatures, it responds by working to keep your core temperature consistent, which means blood is diverted from extremities and capillaries near the surface to make sure blood is flowing to your more vital parts. Unfortunately in the case of Raynaud’s Disease, your body’s zeal for survival can make surviving the everyday far more frustrating than it needs to be. 


As your hands react to the chill, they will begin to change colour. Not all sufferers will experience all three colours, but white, blue and red, not necessarily in this order, is the common pattern. White may first occur as the fingers become deprived of blood as the arteries spasm and cut off circulation. Starved of blood, the fingers will begin to turn cold to touch and blue in appearance. When the attack is ended and blood flow returned redness may occur. Tingling, pins and needles, throbbing sensations and mild pain can all accompany the return of blood to the affected fingers. From beginning to end an attack can last between several seconds and several hours.

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Red, White and Blue

Poor circulation causes the fingers to lose their natural colour and become shockingly pale, then blue or purple as cold sets in, and finally red as blood flows back in, this will commonly be the case with Primary Raynaud’s or Raynaud’s Phenomenon. Secondary Raynaud’s or Raynaud’s Syndrome is also subject to similar attacks, though not always so mild. In fact Raynaud’s Syndrome, when combined with the underlying condition that caused it, can lead to complications as severe as gangrene.  

Scleroderma and Raynaud’s Syndrome tend to go hand in hand, leading to hardening of the skin and ulcers that can be difficult to treat. For those who are suffering Secondary Raynaud’s keeping extremities warm is especially important. 

Finger Warming 

During an attack it’s important to try and get hands as warm as possible. If you’re in a cold area move immediately to a warmer one, do not stress over the situation as this in itself can be a trigger of an attack. Moving the fingers and arms, placing them under your armpits, rubbing them together or running them under warm (but not hot) water can help restore normal temperature and blood flow. 

The key to stopping attacks is stopping the cold, Raynaud’s offers a great range and garments and gadgets to keep you warm and comfortable!

Keeping you warm when it counts

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