Saturday, June 16, 2018 by Zoey Sky
Raynaud’s phenomenon refers to a condition where an individual’s digits become discolored when exposed to extreme changes in temperature or strong emotions.
A patient’s skin becomes discolored due to the abnormal spasm of the blood vessels, which decreases blood supply. The digits, along with the ears or nose, will first turn white because of the decrease in the blood supply.
The fingers and toes will then turn blue due because of the prolonged lack of oxygen. Finally, the blood vessels reopen, which results in a local “flushing” phenomenon that turns the fingers and toes red. This three-phase color sequence, which usually manifests when a person is exposed to cold temperature, is characteristic of Raynaud’s phenomenon.
The condition is named after the French physician Maurice Raynaud. Raynaud’s phenomenon is also called Raynaud’s disease or Raynaud’s syndrome.
Known side effects of Raynaud’s phenomenon
The other side effects of Raynaud’s phenomenon usually include:
- Problems in the same fingers on both hands (primary Raynaud phenomenon). Most individuals don’t experience that much pain.
- Patients with secondary Raynaud phenomenon may feel pain or tingling in their fingers.
- Painful ulcers may form on the affected fingers if the attacks are severe.
Risk factors for Raynaud’s phenomenon may include:
- Injury from frostbite and vibrating tools
- Medications (bleomycin [Blenoxane])
- Propranolol (Inderal, ergotamine)
- Rheumatic autoimmune diseases (e.g., mixed connective tissue disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjögren’s syndrome)
Body systems harmed by Raynaud’s phenomenon
Raynaud’s phenomenon may cause the following complications:
- Deformed fingers – Fingers may turn thin and tapered with smooth, shiny skin and nails that grow slowly. This can happen because of poor blood flow.
- Gangrene/skin ulcers – Gangrene or skin ulcers may develop if an artery is completely blocked. This complication is more common among patients with arthritis or autoimmune conditions.
Food items or nutrients that may prevent Raynaud’s phenomenon
The following foods or nutrients can help prevent Raynaud’s phenomenon or manage its side effects:
- Ginger – Ginger can help boost the circulation of blood in the body. It can also help generate warmth in cold conditions.
- Potassium – Potassium, together with sodium, is an important mineral that regulates the body’s fluid balance and the dilation of the blood vessels and arteries. Sources include bananas, butternut squash, sweet potato, and yogurt.
- Vitamin B3 – Vitamin B3, also called niacin, is crucial to increasing blood flow to the surface of the skin and regulating the dilation of blood vessels all over the body. Sources include chicken, green peas, liver, pork, portobello mushrooms, seafood, and sunflower seeds.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and it can stimulate the immune system. The vitamin is also necessary for countless bodily functions such as the creation of new skin cells, the protection of vessels from damage, and the creation of collagen. Sources include citrus fruits.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E, also called tocopherol, is an effective boosting skin agent. It can also help protect the cells and blood vessels. Sources include avocados, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seafood.
Treatments, management plans for Raynaud’s phenomenon
Certain lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- Keep the body warm. Avoid exposure to cold weather by wearing mittens or gloves outdoors and when handling ice or frozen food.
- Limit your caffeine intake or avoid it altogether.
- Quit smoking. Smoking makes the blood vessels narrow even more.
- Wear comfortable shoes and wool socks. Always wear shoes when outside.
Where to learn more
Raynaud’s phenomenon refers to a condition where an individual’s digits become discolored when exposed to changes in temperature (cold or hot) or strong emotions.
The other side effects of Raynaud’s phenomenon usually include painful ulcers on the affected fingers if the attacks are severe.
Raynaud’s phenomenon may cause complications like deformed fingers and gangrene.
Foods and nutrients like ginger, potassium, vitamins B3, C, and E can help prevent Raynaud’s phenomenon or manage its side effects.
Certain lifestyle changes like keeping the body warm and quitting smoking can help manage the symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon.