Why Do My Hands Turn Blue?
| Why Do My Hands And Fingers Turn Blue In The Cold?
Is poor circulation causing my fingers to go blue? Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition that affects the circulation in the blood vessels supplying the skin. It occurs when the tiny blood vessels supplying the skin of the fingers and feet become constricted (spasm) in response to heat, cold or other stimuli.
Is It Dangerous?
In 90 per cent of cases, Raynaud's is not a sign of any underlying problem with your circulation. It implies that the tiny blood vessels supplying your skin are oversensitive. In its most common form, Raynaud's does not usually cause any mischief, although it can be the source of a lot of annoyance. In about one in 10 cases, Raynaud's is the sign of an underlying autoimmune disorder like scleroderma, Sjogren syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. In this instance, the symptoms will usually start later life, so the first sign of a circulatory problem may not be until your 30s. The form of Raynaud's associated with a disease tends to follow the path of that disorder and may lead to gangrene and ulcers of the affected areas due to severe problems with the circulation.
Can Raynaud's Be Treated?
A drug called nifedipine (usually given to treat angina and chest pain) can sometimes be used. This opens up blood vessels, and by improving the circulation it improves the symptoms. Because it opens up all the blood vessels and not just the ones affected by Raynaud's, it causes dizziness, headaches and flushing in 75 per cent of those who take it, so the treatment may prove worse than the disorder. Other blood pressure drugs such as ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers have also been tried, but the response is very individual. With any drug, you should try them for at least a fortnight as you often become tolerant to their side-effects.
Too Cold For Comfort?
Although this condition is common, see your doctor if you feel your symptoms are excessive and you really can't warm up. Make a diary of your symptoms and the specific temperatures and activities that are affected. Mention any female relatives similarly affected, both past and present. Also let the doctor know of any family history of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or other joint disorders. Your doctor will order a blood test and may refer you to a specialist if they feel your problem is due to an underlying disease.
WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT QUESTIONS ON CIRCULATION HEALTH