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Raynaud's phenomenon, also known as Raynaud's disease or syndrome, is characterized by an alteration in the blood circulation of the hands and feet, which causes the skin color to change abruptly, starting with pale, cool skin, turning bluish, or purple, and eventually returning to normal reddish color.
This phenomenon can also affect other regions of the body, mainly the nose or earlobes and, although its specific causes are not known, it is possible that it is associated with exposure to cold or sudden emotional changes, being also more frequent in women.
The main symptoms of Raynaud's syndrome arise due to changes in blood circulation as a result of the narrowing of blood vessels, which promotes a decrease in blood flow and, consequently, oxygen to the skin. Thus, the main symptoms of Raynaud's disease are:
- Change color of fingers, which initially turn pale and then turn more purple due to lack of oxygen to the site;
- Pulsating sensation in the affected area;
- Hand swelling;
- Pain or sensitivity;
- Emergence of small rashes on the skin;
- Changes in skin texture.
Symptoms of Raynaud's syndrome mainly arise from extreme cold or exposure to lower temperatures for a long time, and can also occur as a result of intense stress.
Usually, simple measures such as avoiding the cold and wearing thick gloves or socks in winter are enough to relieve symptoms and reduce the discomfort caused. However, when the symptoms do not go away even with these measures, it is important to consult the general practitioner for tests to be carried out to identify the cause of Raynaud's syndrome and to indicate the most appropriate treatment.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of Raynaud's phenomenon should be made by the general practitioner through a physical examination in which the signs and symptoms presented by the person are observed.
In addition, to rule out other situations that present similar symptoms, such as inflammation or autoimmune diseases, the doctor may recommend performing some tests, such as antinuclear antibody tests, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (VSH), for example.
Raynaud's phenomenon is mainly related to constant or prolonged exposure to cold, which results in altered blood flow. However, this situation can also be a consequence of something else, coming to be known as secondary Raynaud's disease. Thus, the main causes of this syndrome are:
- Polymyositis and dermatomyositis;
- Rheumatoid arthritis;
- Sjögren's Syndrome;
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome;
- Policithemia vera;
Furthermore, Raynaud's phenomenon can occur as a result of using some medication, smoking and performing activities with repetitive movements, for example.
How the treatment is done
Raynaud's phenomenon normally does not require specific treatment, being recommended, in most cases, that the region is heated so that circulation is activated and reestablished.However, it is important to go to the doctor if symptoms persist or the extremities become dark, as it may mean that tissue is dying due to lack of oxygen, and amputation of the affected region may be necessary.
To avoid necrosis, it is recommended to avoid cold places and wear thick gloves and socks in winter, for example. In addition, it is recommended not to smoke, as nicotine can also interfere with blood circulation, reducing the amount of blood that reaches the extremities.
However, when the extremities are constantly cold and whitish and the phenomenon is related to other he alth problems, the doctor may recommend the use of some medicines, such as Nifedipine, Diltiazem, Prazosin or Nitroglycerin in ointment, for example..