Font Size

Raynaud Phenomenon (cont.)

Raynaud's Phenomenon Symptoms and Signs

When someone has an attack of Raynaud's phenomenon, the small arteries of the arms and legs shut down, which limits blood flow to the distal organs. The tissues become deprived of the blood's oxygen, which causes color changes in the skin. However, it should be understood that Raynaud's phenomenon is not the same as frostbite.

  • At first, the skin blanches, turning very white, then blue as the tissues get colder. As the blood flow improves, the skin often becomes red and will throb. These classic three color changes are not seen in all people, and the order of the color change may also vary. The person reports numbness in the fingers and occasional pain. Affected skin feels very cold. The areas suffering from lack of oxygen are very well demarcated, usually occurring at joint lines.
  • Changes usually occur in the fingers. Blanching may occur in only one or two fingers, but it is not uncommon to see changes in all fingers. In addition, it may affect the toes, tip of the nose, lips, or even the earlobes. Raynaud's phenomenon is almost always bilateral but occasionally may only affect one hand.
  • After the arteries relax again, the tissues get oxygen. Skin color changes from blue to a bright red color. The color change from white to blue to red is called a triphasic reaction. These color changes are essential information for your doctor to make the diagnosis.

The Raynaud's phenomenon attack usually lasts minutes, although sometimes it may last several hours.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2015
Medical Author:

Must Read Articles Related to Raynaud Phenomenon

Cold Hands and Feet
Cold Hands and Feet When your hands or feet (and sometimes other parts of the body, especially your ears and nose) get too cold, they can be injured or react in different ways. Sym...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Raynaud Phenomenon:

Raynaud's Phenomenon - Describe Your Experience

Please describe your experience with Raynaud's phenomenon.

Raynaud's Phenomenon Pregnancy - Treatment

What was the treatment for your Raynaud's phenomenon?

Raynaud's Phenomenon - Symptoms

What were the symptoms of your Raynaud's phenomenon?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Raynaud Phenomenon »

Raynaud phenomenon refers to reversible ischemia of peripheral arterioles.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary