Exaggerated vasomotor response to emotional stress or temperaturechanges may result in a condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP). Spasm ofthe blood vessels in the fingers, toes and sometimes earlobes decrease theblood flow in those regions of the body and the skin changes color. At thebeginning the tissue is white because of (the blood vessels') spasm, then when it starts to lackoxygen it turn to blue and when the blood vessels open again, blood in thetissue cause flushing (redness) of the skin. The sequence white blue and red is characteristic for RP.
Raynaud’s phenomenon is not a frostbite, or just cold feet and hands.
Symptoms of this condition are usually cold fingers andtoes sometimes even earlobes. Sometimes RP affects other parts of the body,your nose, lips, or nipples. After the stress is gone or after warming the affectedareas feel numb and thorny. Some people don’t experience all of the threecolors mentioned, but the affected areas are numb and cold your sensation inthem is decreased and when the blood vessels open the skin is red, and mightbe swollen or tingling.
Usually the Raynaud’s last less than a minute, but might beprolonged to couple of hours.
The condition might be spontaneous and without any apparentcause and then we’re talking about primary RP, or the phenomenon is caused bysome certain factor. The later condition is known as secondary RP. Sometimes, the term “primary” is referring to an isolated disease,the patient is suffering only from Raynaud’s phenomenon. In that case, “secondary”means that the RP is followed with another (other) condition.
The exact reasons of the Raynaud’s condition are stillunknown. Exposure to cold or hot weather and emotional stress are some of the causesrelated to the RP. It is suspected that RP patients have increased nervesensitivity abnormal nerve control of the blood vessels or those small bloodvessels have abnormalities in their inner wall causing the narrowingand the spasm.
Secondary RP is a condition that frequently followsrheumatic illnesses, like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus orscleroderma. Patients with carcinoid or hypothyroid condition and rarely carcinomasuffer from the Raynaud’s. Use of propranolol (Inderal), nicotine, estrogenmedications without added progesterone, or other medications such as ergotamine(in migraine treatment) or bleomycin (Bleoxane) (for cancer therapy) are associatedwith the Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Serious case of Raynaud’s phenomenon and infected finger and toes affectedwith RP are the reason to consult the doctor for chronic Raynaud’s may causeskin and tissue atrophy or gangrene.