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Signs and symptoms of Raynaud’s depend on the frequency, duration and severity of the blood vessel spasms that underlie the disorder. Raynaud’s disease signs and symptoms include:
During an attack of Raynaud’s, affected areas of your skin usually first turn white. Then, the affected areas often turn blue and feel cold and numb. As you warm and circulation improves, the affected areas may turn red, throb, tingle or swell. The order of the color changes isn’t the same for everyone, and not everyone experiences all three colors.
Although Raynaud’s most commonly affects your fingers and toes, the condition can also affect other areas of your body, such as your nose, lips, ears and even nipples. After warming, it may take 15 minutes for normal blood flow to return to the area.
See your doctor right away if you have a history of severe Raynaud’s and develop a sore or infection in one of your affected fingers or toes.
Doctors don’t completely understand the cause of Raynaud’s attacks, but blood vessels in the hands and feet appear to overreact to cold temperatures or stress.
Blood vessels in spasm
With Raynaud’s, arteries to your fingers and toes go into vasospasm when exposed to cold or stress, narrowing your vessels and temporarily limiting blood supply. Over time, these small arteries may thicken slightly, further limiting blood flow.
Cold temperatures are most likely to trigger an attack. Exposure to cold, such as putting your hands in cold water, taking something from a freezer or encountering cold air, is the most likely trigger. For some people, emotional stress can cause an episode of Raynaud’s.
Treatment of Raynaud’s disease depends on its severity and whether you have other health conditions. For most people, Raynaud’s disease isn’t disabling, but can affect quality of life.