Raynaud's - Newly Diagnosed

If you have recently been diagnosed with Raynaud's, you may have some questions and SRUK are here to support you through that journey. Raynaud's is in fact very common and in many cases will be a mild condition.  We explain what it is, what to expect and how to get more support. 

What is Raynaud's disease?

In Raynaud's, small blood vessels within the extremities such as the hands, feet, fingers and toes are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, cold conditions and sometimes stress. The condition is also known as Raynaud's syndrome or Raynaud's phenomenon. It is named after Maurice Raynaud, the physician who first identified it.

There are two types of Raynaud's - primary and secondary. In primary Raynaud's, the symptoms are often mild with no other associated health issues. Secondary Raynaud's may be more severe and usually involves another health condition, such as scleroderma.

What causes Raynaud's?

Raynaud's is thought to be caused by disruptions to the nerves that control blood vessels, making them over-sensitive to temperature changes, especially the cold. There is some evidence that it could be hereditary as several cases sometimes occur within a family; however, many people with primary Raynaud's never know why their condition developed.

Secondary Raynaud's is far less common, and is likely to be caused by another long-term autoimmune disease, such as scleroderma or lupus.

What happens during a Raynaud's attack?

A Raynaud's attack may be triggered by cold conditions or sudden changes in temperature, and sometimes by emotional stress. The blood vessels in the extremities become narrower, and blood flow is restricted. When you have Raynaud's, this response is exaggerated, causing the skin colour to change from white, to blue, to red. A Raynaud's attack can be painful, especially as the circulation returns.

How common is Raynaud’s?

Raynaud’s is thought to affect 10 million people in the UK, which is around one-in-six of the total population. It is up to nine-times more common in women than in men, although anyone can develop Raynaud’s including children and even babies.

How can Raynaud’s be treated?

Raynaud’s is considered a long-term condition. Although there is no cure at the moment, many people find that they can manage their symptoms effectively. This can be done by trying to minimise exposure to cold temperatures where possible, and by keeping warm and wearing layers on colder days, with warm gloves and socks. If your symptoms are having a significant impact on your daily life, your doctor may prescribe medications to help.

Living well with Raynaud's

The majority of people who are diagnosed with Raynaud's will have the primary form. Because this is not connected to any underlying health issues, it is usually possible to manage the symptoms without too much disruption to daily life. Although Raynaud's attacks are unpleasant, they should subside without causing long-term damage.

Secondary Raynaud's is usually associated with another health condition such as scleroderma, therefore its management may be more complex as medical treatment may be required. It is important to look out for skin changes such as ulcers around the affected areas, and report any health concerns to your doctor, who can refer you for further testing if necessary.

More information and finding support

SRUK are here to support you and we offer a number of ways to access information and resources, find support and connect with others who may be in a similar situation. Please give us a call on 020 3893 5998 and we will be very happy to help you. 

Social media

Our FacebookTwitterInstagram and Youtube pages are designed to enable you to interact with others, discuss different issues and share advice. You can also help us to raise awareness of Scleroderma and Raynaud's by sharing web pages using the share buttons.

Join our online community

You can also visit our online community hosted on the Health Unlocked website. This is a friendly space where you can chat with other people who are affected by scleroderma, exchange advice and information and share support.

Ask us a question

If you have a question and you cannot find the answer, please contact us at info@sruk.co.uk and we can forward it to a specialist on your behalf.

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Our free Helpline - 0800 311 2756

The SRUK Helpline is designed to provide support and is open from 9am until 7pm, 365 days a year. It is answered by trained volunteers who have been affected by Scleroderma or Raynaud's.

Find your nearest Support Group

We have Support Groups all over the UK, that enable people affected by Scleroderma and Raynaud's to make connections, either in person, via email or over the telephone. Please click here for more information.