Raynaud's - NHS

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Raynaud's

Raynaud's phenomenon is common and does not usually cause severe problems. You can often treat the symptoms yourself by keeping warm. Sometimes it can be a sign of a more serious condition.

Check if it's Raynaud's

Raynaud's affects your blood circulation. When you're cold, anxious or stressed, your fingers and toes may change colour.

Other symptoms can include:

White fingertips caused by Raynaud's
The skin may turn white or a lighter colour as blood flow is restricted
Credit:

DR P. MARAZZI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/459251/view

Blue fingertips caused by Raynaud's
Sometimes the skin turns blue as blood vessels react
Credit:

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/574648/view

Red fingers caused by Raynaud's
The skin may turn red as blood flow returns
Credit:

DR P. MARAZZI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/262341/view

Fingertips of a person with dark skin who's affected by Raynaud's.
Raynaud's may make your fingertips appear paler if you have dark skin
Credit:

Custom Medical Stock Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

https://www.alamy.com/mediacomp/imagedetails.aspx?ref=A654KC

Some people also find that their ears, nose, lips or nipples are affected.

The symptoms of Raynaud's may last from a few minutes to a few hours.

Raynaud's is sometimes caused by another health condition, taking certain medicines, or working with vibrating tools for a long time.

If you're not sure it's Raynaud's
A table of possible causes of symptoms.
Symptoms Possible causes
Pins and needles that lasts for a few minutes Resting or sleeping on part of the body
Breathing too quickly, trembling hands, pins and needles, but fingers do not change colour Hyperventilation
Burning or itchy swelling on fingers and toes, happens after being very cold, gets worse as you warm up Chilblains

Things you can do to help Raynaud's

Do

  • keep your home warm

  • wear warm clothes during cold weather, especially on your hands and feet

  • exercise regularly – this helps improve circulation

  • try breathing exercises or yoga to help you relax

  • eat a healthy, balanced diet

Don’t

  • do not smoke – improve your circulation by stopping smoking

  • do not have too much caffeine (found in tea, coffee, cola and chocolate) – it may trigger the symptoms of Raynaud's

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • your symptoms are very bad or getting worse
  • Raynaud's is affecting your daily life
  • your symptoms are only on 1 side of your body
  • you also have joint pain, skin rashes or muscle weakness
  • you're over 30 and get symptoms of Raynaud's for the first time
  • your child is under 12 and has symptoms of Raynaud's
Information:

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

Find out about using the NHS during coronavirus

Treatment for Raynaud's from a GP

If your symptoms are very bad or getting worse, a GP may prescribe a medicine to help improve your circulation, such as nifedipine, which is used to treat high blood pressure.

Some people need to take this medicine every day. Others only use it to prevent Raynaud's – for example, during cold weather.

A GP may arrange tests if they think Raynaud's could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Information:

Support from SRUK

is a charity for people with scleroderma and Raynaud's. It offers:

Page last reviewed: 8 October 2020
Next review due: 8 October 2023