Overview

Raynaud's phenomenon
Raynaud's phenomenon

Raynaud's phenomenon is common and does not usually cause any severe problems. You can often treat the symptoms yourself by keeping warm. Sometimes it can be a sign of a more serious condition.

Check if it's Raynaud's

Raynaud's affects your blood circulation. When you're cold, anxious or stressed, your fingers and toes may change colour.

Other symptoms can include:

  • pain
  • numbness
  • pins and needles
  • difficulty moving the affected area

The skin turns white as blood flow is restricted. Sometimes the skin turns blue as blood vessels react. The skin turns red as blood flow returns

Some people also find their ears, nose, lips or nipples are affected.

The symptoms of Raynaud's may last from a few minutes to a few hours.

If you're not sure it's Raynaud's

  • symptom could be pins and needles that lasts for a few minutes - possible cause could be resting or sleeping on part of the body
  • symptom could be breathing too quickly, trembling hands, pins and needles, but fingers don't change colour - cause could be hyperventilation
  • symptom could be burning or itchy swelling on fingers and toes, happens after being very cold, gets worse as you warm up - possible cause could be chilblains

Things you can do yourself

Do:

  • keep your home warm
  • wear warm clothes during cold weather – especially on your hands and feet
  • exercise regularly – this helps improve circulation
  • try breathing exercises or yoga to help you relax
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet

Don't:

  • do not smoke – improve your circulation by stopping smoking
  • do not drink too much tea, coffee or cola – caffeine and other stimulants can stop you relaxing

See a GP if:

  • your symptoms are very bad or getting worse
  • Raynaud's is affecting your daily life
  • you only have numbness on one side of your body
  • you also have joint pain, skin rashes or muscle weakness
  • you're over 30 and get symptoms of Raynaud's for the first time
  • your child is under 12 and has symptoms of Raynaud's

Treatment from a GP

If your symptoms are very bad or getting worse, your GP may prescribe a medicine called nifedipine to help improve your circulation.

Some people need to take nifedipine every day. Others only use it to prevent Raynaud's – for example, during cold weather.

Sometimes your GP will examine you and suggest a blood test. In rare cases, Raynaud's could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Support from SRUK

SRUK is the UK charity for people with scleroderma and Raynaud's. It offers:

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 16/10/2019 14:24:41