Raynaud phenomenon (RP) occurs when our body experiences an exaggerated response to exposure to cold or stress, presenting with well-demarcated color changes on the fingers or toes, that can vary from white, to blue, to red.
Raynaud phenomenon can present as an episodic attack or as persistent or repeated vasospasm. On an episodic attack, the fingers or toes become first white (as a sign of vasoconstriction), and with rewarming, later transition through hues of blue (indicating slow flow of blood to the area), and finally return to normal color or even bright red (when a reactive influx of blood arrives to the affected digits). When RP presents as persistent or repeated vasospasm the changes on the skin can be more serious and permanent, including taut-shiny skin, ulcers, and gangrene.
Raynaud phenomenon can be considered primary or secondary, depending if the symptoms occur alone or associated with another disorder. Some of the disorders related with secondary RP include: connective tissue disorders (lupus, dermatomyositis, scleroderma, vasculitis), arterial disease (atherosclerosis, thromboembolism), hyperviscosity disorders (cold agglutinins, cryoproteins), use of some drugs and toxins, carpal tunnel syndrome, and vibration injury from occupational exposure.
If you believe that you may be experiencing Raynaud phenomenon, please consult with one of our Florida Skin Center’s dermatology providers for a complete assessment of your case.