A Rare Disorder Turns Finger And Toes White Or Blue When Cold

It affects the blood supply to specific body parts, usually the fingers and toes. The disease is also known as Raynaud’s syndrome or Raynaud’s disease.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, this condition causes blood vessels to narrow in response to cold or stress, so that little or no blood reaches the affected body parts. In the U.S., 5% of people have the condition. Women are more likely to suffer from it than men.

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Dr. Ashima Makol, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, describes it as an exaggerated response to cold. Cold exposure causes the body to pull blood toward the heart and lungs, affecting the extremities. Makol says patients usually see pale white body parts turn blueish-purple when constricted blood vessels relax. More blood is coming in, but it lacks oxygen, so it’s blue.

Various Types Of Raynaud’s Syndrome

The two types of Raynaud’s are:

  • Primary – the condition develops by itself (the most common)
  • Secondary – caused by another health condition

In most cases of secondary Raynaud’s, the immune system attacks healthy tissue (autoimmune disorders), such as lupus and scleroderma. Primary Raynaud’s has no known cause. The condition is associated with lupus in one in ten people with primary Raynaud’s.

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Diagnosis: How Does It Happen?

Makol said Raynaud’s is straightforward to diagnose by its “impressive color change” in your fingers. Based on patient history, a physical examination, and additional tests, such as a nail fold capillary analysis, a doctor can determine whether it is primary or secondary Raynaud’s.

What Are The Treatment Options?

It depends on the severity of the symptoms and how the treatment is administered. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and can last between 15 and 20 minutes, with multiple episodes per day. Makol describes the pain and discomfort that occurs during that time.