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Raynaud’s disease, fingers turning white

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006
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Fingers Turning White
occasionally in the winter like twice this past winter have had my fingers turn completely white down to the knuckle. I don’t know if it would be that I have a circulation problem or what ..

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Dr. Joshua’s Answer:

This is called Raynaud’s Phenomenon, also known as Raynaud disease / syndrome. It is caused by the constriction (spasm) of small arteries bringing blood to the fingers. It is usually provoked by exposure to cold, resulting in fingers turning white and painful.

Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis increase the risk of Raynaud’s disease. Smoking increases the risk because nicotine constricts small arteries. Drugs such as beta blockers and allergy medicine (vasoconstrictors) are also risk factors. Vibration may provoke this phenomenon, e.g. using vibrating tools at work.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon, it affects mostly young women, and is usually more of a nuisance. In most cases, no underlying disease is found, although it seems that Raynaud’s disease runs in the family. In order to prevent attacks, make sure you are dressed warmly, don’t smoke, exercise regularly to keep your circulation healthy. In case of an attack, warm your hands and feet as soon as possible. If available, let warm water run over your hands. In difficult cases, calcium channel blockers are used to prevent attacks.


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