Icy fingers and toes: Poor circulation or Raynaud’s phenomenon?

In case your fingers or toes ever turn pale (or perhaps ghostly white-colored) and go numb when uncovered to cold, you may assume you’ve just got poor circulation. That’s what I did previously think initially when i first began realizing this issue with my very own hands a long time ago. It always happened close to the finish of the lengthy hike on the spring or fall mid-day, once the temperature dropped and that i didn’t have mitts handy. My pinkie, third, and middle fingers would turn white-colored, and also the finger nails required on the bluish tinge. When I soon discovered, I’ve Raynaud’s phenomenon, an exaggeration of ordinary circulation system constriction.

Raynaud’s phenomenon: Not only poor circulation

When you are uncovered to some cold atmosphere, the body reacts if you attempt to preserve your core temperature. Bloodstream vessels close to the surface of the epidermis tighten, redirecting bloodstream flow much deeper in to the body. For those who have Raynaud’s phenomenon, this method is much more extreme, as well as slight alterations in air temperature can trigger a chapter, states rheumatologist Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, senior faculty editor at Harvard Health Publishing and corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard School Of Medicine.

“Cold temperature may be the classic trigger for Raynaud’s phenomenon. However it can happen any season – for instance, whenever you emerge from a heated pool, enter an aura-conditioned building, or achieve in to the freezer section in the supermarket,” he states. Additionally towards the hands, Raynaud’s also affects the ft and, less frequently, the nose, lips, and ears. Throughout an episode, the little arterial blood vessels offering the fingers and toes contract spasmodically, hampering the flow of oxygen-wealthy bloodstream towards the skin. A few of these vessels even temporarily collapse, and also the skin becomes pale and awesome, sometimes blanching to some stark white-colored color.

Technically, Raynaud’s phenomenon is really a circulation problem, but it’s completely different than doctors mean by poor circulation, states Dr. Shmerling. Limited or poor circulation usually affects seniors whose arterial blood vessels are narrowed with fatty plaque (referred to as coronary artery disease), that is frequently brought on by high cholesterol levels, high bloodstream pressure, and smoking. In comparison, Raynaud’s usually affects more youthful people (mostly women) without individuals issues – and also the circulation glitch is usually temporary and completely reversible, he adds.

Stopping and treating Raynaud’s phenomenon

When I can attest, the very best strategy to this problem would be to prevent episodes to begin with, largely by staying away from sudden or unprotected contact with cold conditions. I’ve always incorporated during the cold months before heading outdoors, however I bring extra layers and mitts even if your temperature might dip even slightly, or even the weather risk turning wet or windy. Other tips include preheating your vehicle in the winter months prior to getting in, and putting on mitts in chilly supermarket aisles.

Generally, it’s better to avoid behavior and medicines that create bloodstream vessels to tighten. Including not smoking and never taking certain medications, for example cold and allergy formulas which contain phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine and migraine drugs which contain ergotamine. Emotional stress might also provoke a chapter of Raynaud’s, so consider techniques and tools to help you ease stress.

If required, your physician may suggest a medication that relaxes the bloodstream vessels, often a calcium-funnel blocker for example nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia). If it is not effective, drugs to deal with erection dysfunction for example sildenafil (The blue pill) might help somewhat. You might not have to take these drugs constantly, only during winter, when Raynaud’s is commonly worse.

Warm-up impacted areas rapidly

Once a chapter starts, it’s vital that you warm-up the affected extremities as rapidly as you possibly can. For me personally, placing my hands under warm flowing water will the trick. When it is not possible, place them beneath your armpits or alongside another warm part of the body. Once the bloodstream vessels finally relax and bloodstream flow resumes, your skin becomes warm and flushed – and incredibly red. The fingers or toes may throb or tingle.

What else is essential to understand?

Many people with Raynaud’s phenomenon produce other health issues, usually ligament disorders for example scleroderma or lupus. Your physician can know for sure using a physical exam, asking regarding your signs and symptoms, and going for a couple of bloodstream tests. But more often than not, there’s no underlying condition.