Do you sometimes notice an odd white, blue, or red coloration in your fingers or toes? It might be a sign of Raynaud’s phenomenon.\nWhat Is Raynaud’s Phenomenon?\nWhat causes Raynaud\u2019s is unknown, but the process is well understood. A vascular activity called\u00a0vasospasm causes the blood vessels in the fingers and less commonly the toes, ears, lips, and nose to overreact when exposed to cold and stress. You might also experience cold or tingling sensations in the same areas.\nRaynaud’s Phenomenon Symptoms and Diagnosis\nColoration of the fingers and toes is one sign of Raynaud\u2019s. To determine whether you have primary or secondary Raynaud\u2019s, your health care provider may conduct a nail fold capillaroscopy test.\nUsing a microscope, he or she looks for deformed capillaries in the fingernails or toenails. Their presence may indicate primary Raynaud\u2019s and the doctor may order blood tests to be sure.\nSecondary Raynaud\u2019s is diagnosed if some other health condition\u2014artery or connective tissue diseases, for example\u2014causes the phenomenon. The primary form has no other source.\nRaynaud’s Phenomenon Risk Factors\nPredominantly occurring in women, primary Raynaud\u2019s phenomenon occurs between ages 15 to 30. The secondary form of Raynaud\u2019s usually begins after age 40.\nA third of people with the disease have a close relative with Raynaud\u2019s.\u00a0Lupus\u00a0and other medical conditions increase the risk for developing it. Workers who routinely traumatize their hands operating machinery or are exposed to such chemicals as vinyl chloride are also at risk.\n\nLiving with Raynaud’s Phenomenon\nCold temperatures, smoking, and stress aggravate Raynaud’s phenomenon. You can help reduce the number of attacks and improve your overall health by following these tips from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).\n\nQuit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke\nAvoid caffeine because it constricts your blood vessels\nWhen going outdoors in cold weather, be sure to dress warmly\nStress can cause Raynaud’s attacks, so try to minimize it\nDon’t use tools that vibrate your hands\nTalk to your health care provider about any medications you take that constricts blood vessels\n\nThe ACR also advises those with Raynaud’s to pay special attention to their hands and feet. That means having proper-fitting shoes, avoiding injury, and not wearing anything that constricts the blood vessels. Avoid going\u00a0barefoot, always wear gloves (mittens are best) in the cold, and practice good nail care.\nRaynaud’s Phenomenon Treatment\nTo relieve an acute attack of Raynaud’s phenomenon, the ACR advises “the first and foremost action” is to gently warm affected areas. During an acute outbreak:\n\nWiggle your fingers and toes\nMake windmill movements with your arms\nWarm your hands under your armpits\nImmerse your hands and toes in warm water\nMassage the affected areas\n\nSome medications used for treatment prevent tissue damage and reduce the number and severity of attacks. Medications also treat underlying health conditions that cause secondary Raynaud’s. Nerve-blocking injections, surgery, and even amputation may provide the only relief for those coping with the most severe forms of the disease.\nIf you suspect Raynaud’s phenomenon, contact UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute to find help.