MOHALI, JANUARY 6: “When the colour of hands changed to white and subsequently to blue and red especially on being exposed to cold, you could be a victim of Raynaud’s phenomenon. However some individuals might experience only blueness and then redness. Usually seen over the fingers and toes, some individuals might experience only blueness and then redness which could affect the hand and feet, tip of the nose, ear lobes or tongue.”
This was stated by Dr Sandeep Chauhan, Sr Consultant, Rheumatology, Max Super Speciality Hospital (MSSH), Mohali while speaking during a seminar on ‘Raynaud’s phenomenon in winter’ at MSSH, Mohali today. He said in susceptible individuals on exposure to cold, the blood vessels could contract excessively thereby compromising the blood supply which result in typical colour changes. The change in colour was accompanied by pain, tingling and numbness in the fingers or toes and in affected areas.
It was common to mistake Raynaud’s phenomena for chill blains as both developed on exposure to cold, pointed out Dr Chauhan. In chill blains the colour of fingers changed to red associated with itching and burning sensation where as in Raynaud’s the colour changed sequentially from white to blue and then to red without itching. Everybody on exposure to severe cold would develop chill blains but only a minority would develop Raynaud’s. Raynaud’s could develop even with slight dip in temperatures but chill blains were normally observed in very low temperatures. Chill blains were purely due to external factors like exposure to cold but Raynaud’s could be because of a host of external as well internal factors, he asserted.
Dr Chauhan said further Raynaud’s phenomenon might be the first manifestation of an underlying disease and might precede the full manifestation of the disease by as much as 2-3 years, or might appear simultaneously with the condition or might develop at a later stage.
Speaking about the nature of these attacks, Dr Chauhan said that Raynaud’s attacks were often only last a few minutes, generally less than an hour and moving into a warmer environment often stops the attack. Attacks could cause a lot of discomfort, and in very severe attacks, there could be ulcers on the fingers and even gangrene leading to loss of fingertips.
To avoid Raynaud’s attacks, Dr Chauhan said the most important thing was to stay warm by using gloves, socks and a cap. One should avoid touching cold railings, door handles with bare hands. Also did not insert ungloved hands into refrigerator and if required use gloves. Dry hands and water could lead to the development of cracks or fissures on hands that might break down further. One should do regular exercise and quit smoking.