couple of years ago I wrote a post for the Lion Brand blog on Raynaud’s Phenomenon. Maybe you know someone with Reynaud’s. Maybe you have it. Either way, it can lead to frostbite in far less extreme conditions than we have out there right now.
Raynaud’s takes its name from Dr. Maurice Raynaud, a French physician with a penchant for noticing what others had passed off as just a “cold hands,
warm heart” condition. As a medical student in 1862, Raynaud discovered that certain patients presented with color-coded white fingers and toes that took on a bluish tinge and then turned bright red in response to low temperatures. Over the years it’s been called a “disease,” a “condition,” a “syndrome,” and a “phenomenon.” No matter how you describe it, for the person with Raynaud’s it can be excruciating
There’s a long list of auto-immune diseases that make someone susceptible to Raynaud’s, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Other conditions associated with Reynaud’s include diabetes, peripheral vascular disease (what our parents called “poor circulation”) and carpal tunnel. There are cases where taking beta blockers or other medications, being exposed to certain industrial chemicals, and routinely using devices that cause hand vibration, such as drills or jackhammers, can inflate your chances of developing Reynaud’s. Smoking also seems to be a factor in developing Reynaud’s.
Little is known about why some develop it and others don’t. Estimates indicate about 20% of women of child-bearing age have Reynaud’s and the ratio of women to men with Reynaud’s is 9 to 1. A hefty 10% of Americans are estimated to have Reynaud’s but only 1 in 10 will be treated by a physician. If you suspect you have Reynaud’s, please see a rheumatologist for a diagnosis. Rheumatologists are physicians specializing in auto-immune diseases and can diagnose and treat Reynaud’s.
In the meantime, please create a barrier between yourself and the weather: warm wool or alpaca mittens or gloves, keep your hands moisturized and yourself hydrated, limit your time outside and limit caffeine and smoking, wear warm roomy shoes with heavier wool/alpaca socks, and check out the resources and information available at the Reynaud’s Association. Stay warm out there, folks.
Thanks to the Reynaud’s Association and Molly’s Fund for their images and helpful resources.