Diseases Home > What You Need to Know About Raynaud's Disease

What Causes Raynaud's Disease?

No one knows the exact cause of Raynaud's disease and why there is a sudden spasmodic contraction of the small blood vessels when exposed to cold. Finding the cause or causes of Raynaud's syndrome continues to be an active area of Raynaud's research.
 

What Triggers It?

For most people, a Raynaud's disease attack is usually triggered by exposure to cold or emotional stress. In general, attacks affect the fingers or toes, but may affect the nose, lips, or ear lobes.
 

Symptoms of Raynaud's Disease

During a Raynaud's disease attack, the symptoms of Raynaud's disease are caused by reduced blood supply to the extremities.
 
Once the attack begins, a person may experience symptoms in the affected area that includes:
 
  • Coldness
  • Changes in skin color
  • Numbness
  • Throbbing
  • Tingling.
     
During an attack, symptoms can last from less than a minute to several hours.
 
The period of exposure to the cold is extremely critical, because it only takes about 20 to 30 minutes of exposure to the cold to cause potentially serious problems, such as tissue damage. This can lead to ulcers on the fingertips and, if left untreated, even gangrene. Bone damage may also occur.
 

Frequency of Attacks

The frequency of Raynaud's disease attacks varies from patient to patient. Some people may get attacks as often as daily or several times a week.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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