White fingers (Raynaud’s phenomenon)

White fingers, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, are a disease that mainly causes trouble for those affected during the colder parts of the year. Here you can read more about white fingers, for example the symptoms, the causes and how it can be treated if needed.

In Raynaud’s phenomenon, blood supply is limited to, for example, fingers or toes. Raynaud’s phenomenon can either be the main disease, or it can be a symptom of another disease. When white fingers are the main disease, it usually debuts between the ages of 15 and 30. In cases where Raynaud’s phenomenon is the main disease, it is usually difficult to find any direct underlying cause. White fingers can also be a secondary disease; a consequence of another illness.

Causes of white fingers

Some causes of white fingers are:

  • Cooling (both current and past cooling)
  • Smoking
  • Medicines, for example, beta blockers, migraine and ADHD medicine
  • Vibrational damage in hands and arms
  • Other diseases (see below)

If it debuts after the age of 40, it is often a disease symptom or a sequelae. Rheumatic diseases such as systemic sclerosis, SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) or Sjogren’s syndrome are common causes in these cases. Hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism (thyroid malfunction) is another disease that can be linked to white fingers. Even working with impact or vibration tools can lead to white fingers. White fingers are hereditary and the disease in its main form affects women more often than men.

Symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon

A typical symptom of Raynaud’s phenomenon is fingers and/or toes that become white or bluish in contact with cold or during periods of stress. You can also get tingling and numbness in the area. Symptoms can also affect eg nose, ears and toes. The white complexion usually attacks. After the signs of Raynaud’s phenomenon come and go, the place can then become swollen and red in the area when the blood vessels open again, so-called hyperemia. During this hyperemic part you can also get throbbing pains.

Raynaud’s phenomenon as a result of another illness can also lead to persistent symptoms such as bleeding in the cuticles, skin changes and necrosis. If white fingers are the primary disease, any symptoms of the disease are usually only seen during a seizure.

Relief and treatment of white fingers

Treating white fingers is primarily about avoiding the triggers of the symptoms. You should keep in mind to stay warm around exposed body parts by using for example mittens and warming shoes. There are also tools such as hand warmers and shoe heaters that can help protect against the cold.

If you smoke, you should stop smoking. Caffeine and stress are two other factors that affect blood vessels and should be minimized. The dosage of drugs that affect the symptoms may need to be changed to alleviate the effects. Regular exercise relieves the symptoms.

When the above measures are not sufficient to alleviate Raynaud’s phenomenon, you may need to be treated with drugs. Then, for example, it may be about nitroglycerin ointment or calcium blocker.
The use of rings can cause tissue damage to those with white fingers. Therefore, all rings should be removed on the fingers to be sure not to get damaged.

Living with Raynaud’s phenomenon

The prognosis when white fingers are the main disease is in most cases good. If the inconvenience arises as a result of another illness, the prognosis depends on how well the underlying disease can be treated.

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