Prescribed drug treatments
Sometimes natural and over-the-counter therapies are not enough and it is necessary to take prescription medications. You should tell your G.P, pharmacist and consultant about all natural and prescription medicines you are taking so that they can check for any conflicts.
The below treatments help improve circulation and your Raynaud's attacks should improve, or the length between attacks should improve. This sort of medication can also treat and help to prevent skin ulcers on your fingers and toes know as digital ulcers.
Some drugs can take up to three weeks to take full effect and may not need to be taken permanently. It is quite common for them to be taken only periodically, or according to when these drugs are likely to benefit you most e.g. during winter, if you have a trip to a cold destination, or find yourself in a stressful situation. However, they are all safe to be taken permanently.
You may have to try several until you find the one, which works best for you. Side effects may include headaches, dizziness, flushing or low blood pressure. To try and avoid side effects, it is recommended to start on a lower dose for a few days and go up to the full dose gradually.
Calcium channel blockers
These drugs relax and open small blood vessels in your hands and feet, decreasing the frequency and severity of attacks in most people with Raynaud's. These drugs can also help heal digital ulcers. Examples include nifedipine (Afeditab CR, Procardia), amlodipine (Norvasc), felodipine (Plendil) and Diltiazem
Some doctors prescribe a drug that relaxes blood vessels (vasodilator), such as nitroglycerin cream applied to the base of your fingers to help heal skin ulcers. Some vasodilators commonly used to treat other conditions, including the high blood pressure drug losartan (Cozaar), the erectile dysfunction medication sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio), the antidepressant medication fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), and a class of medications called prostaglandins, may relieve the symptoms of Raynaud's.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
These help relax blood vessels. ACE inhibitors prevent an enzyme in your body from producing angiotensin II, a substance in your body that narrows your blood vessels and releases hormones that can restrict blood vessels.
This is a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, beta-blockers or "statins."
Some people find relief with drugs called alpha blockers, which counteract the actions of norepinephrine, a hormone that constricts blood vessels. Examples include prazosin (Minipress) and doxazosin (Cardura).
Some medications can aggravate Raynaud's by leading to increased blood vessel spasm. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid taking:
- Certain over-the-counter (OTC) cold drugs. Examples include drugs that contain pseudoephedrine (Chlor-Trimeton, Sudafed).
- Beta blockers. This class of drugs, used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, includes metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), nadolol (Corgard) and propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran XL).