Raynaud Phenomenon

Also known as: Raynaud’s phenomenon, Raynaud’s disease, RP

What is Raynaud Phenomenon?

Raynaud phenomenon refers to the short-lived exaggerated normal response (spasm)  to cold exposure or emotional stress. The spasm affects the arteries/small arterioles mainly in the hands and feet, it can also affect the nose, ears and lips. This overreaction to a cold environment results in decreased blood flow to the affected area. RP occurs more frequently in girls and tends to start in early adolescence, around 11-12 years of age.

What causes Raynaud phenomenon?

There are two kinds of RP.

  • Primary Raynaud's: (80%-90% of cases) RP can occur on its own ( ); while the underlying cause of this is unknown, in 25% of children there is a family history of RP with at least 3 abnormal genes identified. Other risk factors include; certain foods and drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity syndrome.
  • Secondary Raynaud’s: RP can also occur following inflammatory damage blood vessels (vasculitis) , as part of an underlying disease process, as a response to medications or many many other clinical conditions. Secondary RP may indicate a more serious underlying medical situation, usually in young adults and is also found to occur in families.


What are the symptoms of Raynaud phenomenon? 

Initially, in Primary RP, with artery and arteriolar spasm, the affected area becomes white followed by blue as the arteries/arterioles remain closed. If fingers are involved they feel cold, numb resulting in clumsiness. Finally as vessels relax again arterial/arteriolar blood rushes into the area and the area becomes pink again, now with a feeling of warmth, tingling and throbbing.
Generally symptoms do not cause major concern and the whole process takes approximately 15-20 minutes to resolve once the trigger has been removed.
With Secondary RP, the vasospasm and lack of blood flow may be so severe that it causes damage to the tissues affected.

What are Raynaud phenomenon care options? 

For Primary RP, wearing warm clothes in the cold winter weather, avoiding  touching cold items, controlling emotional stress, drinking less caffeine, and no smoking. A number of medications are available if symptoms are frequent and/or severe.
Secondary RP treatment aims at improving the underlying disease process (often autoimmune).

Upcoming Events

1st Annual Vascular Birthmarks Meeting

Come and learn about the diagnosis and treatment of vascular birthmarks and how we can help your child.

Learn more and register

Talkin' Kids Health Facebook Live with Beatriz Canals

Join us for a Live chat with Dr. Ana Duarte, Pediatric Dermatologist, Dr. Chad Perlyn, Pediatric Plastic Surgeon and Dr. Ricardo Restrepo, Pediatric Radiologist, who together are part of the comprehesive multi-specialty center for the evaluation and management of all birthmakrs, known as The International Birthmark Institute (TIBI) at Nicklaus Children's Hospital. Hear from these top doctors about what you and your families should know about birthmarks in this edition of Talkin' Kids Health.

Learn more and register

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:15:52 PM

From the Newsdesk

Nicklaus Children’s Opens Subspecialty Care Center in Boynton Beach
11/07/2017 — The Boynton Beach Care Center is the newest Nicklaus Children’s care location and offers a range of services for children from birth through 21 years of age.
Children Move to the Rhythm of Zumba at Camp Funrise 2017
06/22/2017 — Children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (an inflammation of the joints that is characterized by swelling, heat, and pain) had a terrific tuesday during their Zumba fitness class at this year's Camp Funrise.