Disease & Illness

5 Bizarre Facts Of Life For People With Raynaud’s Disease

And you think you're bothered by the cold ...

Most people’s fingers and toes tend to get chilly pretty easily when it’s very cold out. But for some unlucky people, their extremities can get cold and go numb even in less-than-frigid temperatures. And it’s all due to a condition called Raynaud’s disease.

Women are more likely to have this affliction than men, and — surprise, surprise — it occurs more commonly in people who live in a cold climate. For people with Raynaud’s disease, smaller arteries that supply blood to the skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas, usually the fingers and toes.

winter photo
Getty Images | Jeff J Mitchell

During an attack of Raynaud’s, which can come on from feeling chilly or stress, the fingers and toes feel cold. They also begin to turn white or blue.

As circulation improves, they may turn red, throb, tingle or swell.

Angry woman warmly clothed in a cold home sitting on a couch

If you suffer from Raynaud’s disease, you know how unpleasant these symptoms can be, and it’s really not the same as just having cold fingers.


Here are five things only people with Raynaud’s disease understand.

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1. You’re Used To Blotchy-Looking Flesh

Although other people might go into a panic when they see how much your hands have changed colors, you’re used to the drastic changing of shades your skin goes through. The discoloration is actually caused by the spasms of blood vessels. Skin looks pale when the vessels close and red when the reopen. Skin may also appear blue when it is lacking oxygen.

Flickr | Dorothy Cook

2. You Carry Gloves Everywhere

The cold is your mortal enemy, so you know to carry gloves or mittens around everywhere you go. That applies year-round, because, you know, air conditioning.

Flickr | Simon Cousins

3. You Love Heat Sources

Hot mugs, hand dryers in the bathroom, warm blankets, a hot water faucet — they’re all your best friends.

Flickr | Alexandra E Rust

4. You’re Careful Around Cold Beverages

Even the touch of a beer bottle fresh from the cooler can make your fingers go numb right then and there — the same goes for air conditioning, too.

Flickr | Paul Sableman

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5. Socks Are Also Essential

What happens to your fingers can also happen to your toes. So you know to wear thick socks and cozy shoes, even when it isn’t quite wintertime yet.

Flickr | Caitlin Regan

Want to learn more? Watch this video.

Doctors don’t fully understand Raynaud’s attacks, except that hands and feet seem to overreact to stress and cold. Over time, the arteries may thicken a bit, which limits blood flow even more.

The condition has two types; Primary Raynaud’s can be very mild and resolve on its own. Secondary Raynaud’s is caused by an underlying problem. It’s less common than Raynaud’s, but often more serious. And it shows up later in life than the primary version.

Secondary Raynaud’s can be caused by artery problems, carpal tunnel tissues, connective tissue diseases, smoking, hand and foot injuries, or medications such as beta blockers.

If you do experience symptoms, please see a medical professional, as severe Raynaud’s can cause tissue damage, sores, dead tissue, and potential amputation.


This condition is more common in colder climates and in people with a family history of it.

If you suffer from Raynaud’s, make sure to bundle up, keep your air conditoner low, and warm your car before you get in. Basically, stay warm!