Raynaud's disease - the facts 

We explain the signs and symptoms, the difference between primary and secondary and how to find further support.

Raynaud's disease (Ray-nodes) means that the small blood vessels in the extremities such as the hands, feet, fingers or toes are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, cold conditions and sometimes emotional stress.

When our bodies are exposed to the cold, a normal response is for the blood vessels to become narrower. When someone has Raynaud's this reaction may be much more extreme. It will sometimes cause a noticeable colour change to the affected areas, with the skin turning white, then blue and finally to red as the circulation returns. This is known as a Raynaud's attack.

A Raynaud's attack can be very uncomfortable, and sometimes quite painful. 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 hands, feet, ears, nose, lips, tongue and nipples. Raynaud's is a common condition thought to affect up to ten million people in the UK.

Raynaud's symptoms are:

  • A colour change in the extremities such as the hands or feet, often in response to cold conditions 
  • Cold and numbness in the affected areas, such as the fingers and toes
  • Tingling or pain, especially as the circulation returns to the affected areas

Take our test  to find out if you could have Raynaud's 

How serious is Raynaud's?

There are two different types of Raynaud's: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud's is usually less serious as the condition tends to be fairly manageable. People living with secondary Raynaud's will often experience more severe symptoms. Click here to find out about the causes of Raynaud's.

Primary Raynaud's

This is often a mild condition and there are ways to help manage the symptoms. People with primary Raynaud's usually have no other related complications, and will rarely go on to develop an additional problem.

If you have primary Raynaud's, it is important to see your GP if you are worried about the symptoms or any other health issues.

Secondary Raynaud's

This means that 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 or sores.

If you notice a change in your symptoms or you have any other health concerns, it is important to tell your doctor, who may carry out some tests to rule out other conditions.

If you have any of the symptoms listed, it could be Raynaud's.

Take our test to find out if you may have the condition.

Do you have:

- Cold fingers and toes

- Colour changes in your skin in response to changes in temperature or stress

- Colour changes in the affected area from white to blue and then red

- Numbness, tingling or pain in the affected area

- Stinging or throbbing pain upon warming or stress relief

    It could be a common condition called Raynaud's