With winter quickly approaching and the cold weather upon us, I decided to write about something that affects me almost every cold day. People often ask me, “what’s wrong with your hands?” because my fingers turn white, so white that it's very remarkable, and my hands are always cold. This is called Raynaud's disease.
What is Raynaud’s disease?
Raynaud's disease means there is poor circulation to your hands and feet, causing numbness and discolouration. Raynaud's occurs when the circulation (most commonly to your finger and toes) is decreased in response to cold temperatures or sometimes stress. The cold causes the small arteries that supply blood to the skin to narrow, therefore temporarily limiting blood flow to the area. This causes your fingers and/or toes to go numb and turn white. This is very uncomfortable, especially for your feet when walking. What is interesting to me is that I find that only the same few fingers are affected.
As circulation returns, they turn blue then red and swollen. This is usually associated with a burning sensation, and it takes some time for the circulation for come back.
Interestingly, more women are affected by Raynaud’s than men, and symptoms usually begin to appear at the ages of 15 to 30. There are two types of Raynaud’s disease: Primary Raynaud’s is the most common and is mild, so many people don’t seek treatment. Secondary Raynaud's is more serious (with symptoms emerging later in life at age 40) and can result in severe tissue damage from the loss of circulation.
Those who have Raynaud’s need to dress appropriately for the cold. That means always having mittens, warm socks, warm boots, and hats handy! I sometimes carry hand warmers with me that are activated when exposed to the air and they are a huge help. Consider wearing a few pairs of gloves/mittens and few pairs of socks even if you think it may not be that cold out. This is something I've been all to familiar with and this simple strategy can be really effective in preventing minimizing Raynaud's symptoms, including loosing feeling in your fingers and your toes!
Raynaud’s disease is very common, and can be lived with through simple adaptations in your day-to-day life. If you experience similar symptoms, suspect you have Raynauds, or have been diagnosed with Raynaud's, feel free to talk with one of our health professionals to receive support and health information.
Raynaud's disease. (2017, October 31). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/raynauds-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20363571