Raynaud’s Disease (RD), also called Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a condition of the cardiovascular system in which the blood vessels contract, restricting the flow of blood, usually in the hands, feet or both. RD occurs in up to one-third of individuals with lupus.
Lupus-related Raynaud’s usually results from inflammation of nerves or blood vessels and is triggered by stress or by cold temperatures. With Raynaud’s, the tips of the fingers or toes turn red, white, blue or purple. This may be accompanied by pain, numbness, or tingling. The lips, nose and chin may also be affected. The skin may return to a reddish color when warmth allows blood flow to return to the site.
If Raynaud’s is having a negative impact on your life, you should speak to your doctor about it. In severe cases, medications may be prescribed to relax the blood vessels.
However, in most cases, the best form of treatment is prevention and avoidance of RD triggers.
Tips for avoiding the symptoms of Raynaud’s:
- Wear mittens, socks or stockings and layers of clothing if you know you are going to be in a cold area. Mittens keep the hands warm better than gloves. Gloves allow more cold air to get between the fingers.
- When going outside in cold weather, wear a coat and hat in addition to warm socks and mittens.
- Avoid abrupt changes in temperature, especially going from warm air into air conditioning.
- Soak your hands or feet in warm water at the first sign of an attack.
- Use hand protection when taking anything out of a freezer.
- Practice good stress management.
- Remember that decongestant medications can contribute to symptoms of RD.
- Avoid smoking or being in places where others are smoking.
- Avoid using tools such as an electric hand mixers or power tools. Their vibrations can trigger Raynaud’s.
See your doctor if your RD symptoms worsen or if you notice sores on your fingers or toes.