What is Raynaud's?

Raynaud's phenomenon is a common condition thought to affect up to ten million people in the UK.

In people who have Raynaud's, the small blood vessels in the extremities are over-sensitive to changes in temperature. This causes a Raynaud's attack where the fingers sometimes change colour, but not always, from white, to blue, to red.

A Raynaud's attack can be a very uncomfortable, possibly painful, process. It can also make everyday tasks, like buttoning a jacket or unzipping a purse, very difficult.

Raynaud's symptoms generally affect the fingers and toes, but all extremities can be involved, including the ears, nose and nipples.

How serious is Raynaud's?

There are two forms of Raynaud's phenomenon:

  • Primary Raynaud's is usually a mild and manageable condition. People with primary Raynaud's symptoms have no other complications, and only occasionally go on to develop a related problem.
  • Secondary Raynaud's is where Raynaud's is caused by another condition, usually an autoimmune disease like scleroderma or lupus. Secondary Raynaud's needs more investigation and more careful monitoring for complications like ulceration.

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