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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Raynaud's?

People who have primary Raynaud's (Raynaud's disease) or secondary Raynaud's (Raynaud's phenomenon) can have attacks in response to cold temperatures or emotional stress.

Raynaud's attacks usually affect the fingers and toes. Rarely, the attacks affect the nose, ears, nipples, or lips.

During a Raynaud's attack, the arteries become very narrow for a brief period. As a result, little or no blood flows to affected body parts. This may cause these areas to:

  • Turn pale or white and then blue
  • Feel numb, cold, or painful
  • Turn red, throb, tingle, burn, or feel numb as blood flow returns to the affected areas

Raynaud's attacks can last less than a minute or as long as several hours. Attacks can occur daily or weekly.

Attacks often begin in one finger or toe and move to other fingers or toes. Sometimes only one or two fingers or toes are affected. Different areas may be affected at different times.

Severe secondary Raynaud's can cause skin sores or gangrene. "Gangrene" refers to the death or decay of body tissues. Fortunately, severe Raynaud's is rare.

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Last Updated: March 21, 2014