Raynaud’s disease is an issue with the small blood vessels in the skin. During an episode, the blood vessels constrict which reduces the flow of blood to the skin.
The skin initially turns white and then bluish. This is followed by the reddening of the skin as the blood vessels loosen and the blood flow is restored. In most cases, the hands and feet are typically affected, but it can also affect other areas such as the ears and nose.
What is the cause?
In most cases, an episode is usually triggered by exposure to cold or under emotional stress.
There are 2 forms of Raynaud’s disease:
- Primary – this is a mild form and the cause is unknown
- Secondary – the signs are triggered by another condition and generally more serious
What are the signs?
The usual indications of Raynaud’s disease include the following:
- Skin color alterations, from pale to bluish to red
- Variations in the skin temperature where it feels cooler
It is likely for the site to throb or turn numb, prickly or sore as it warms up or once stress is lessened.
Every episode typically lasts for a few minutes, but some can last up to an hour.
Management of Raynaud’s disease
Generally, conservative and self-care measures are utilized first such as:
- Protection against the cold and ensuring all body parts are kept warm.
- Areas affected by Raynaud’s disease must be protected against cuts, bruises or other injuries
- For those who smoke, limit or stop. When smoking, reduced blood reaches the fingers.
- Stress management techniques
- Regular exercise
Various drugs are given to manage a severe case. These drugs work by improving the circulation such as calcium channel blockers, vasodilators and alpha blockers. Nitroglycerin paste which is applied on the fingers can improve circulation and promote healing of any sores on the skin.