Raynaud's disease is characterized by a constrictive spasms of the smaller vascular system arterioles (small arteries). It most commonly affects the fingers and, at times, can also affect the nose, tongue, and feet.
Types: When Raynaud's symptoms develop without any known cause, it is labeled Raynaud's disease. When these same symptoms occur as a result of other health problems, this is then called Raynaud's phenomenon and is usually more serious.
The affected areas become white or bluish, are usually accompanied by tingling sensation. At times, the affected areas can also take on a reddish hue and, in rare cases, the walls of the arteries can thicken, permanently obstructing blood flow, causing ulcers, infections, and even gangrene (death of tissue) to form around the fingernails.
Typically, the initial symptoms of Raynaud's disease are triggered by exposure to cold or because of chronic emotional stress. Nutritional deficiencies resulting in intolerance to cold and impaired circulation can cause Raynaud's disease. Smoking is another common cause and can trigger symptoms, as can certain medications, such as the beta blockers used in blood pressure treatment as well as ergotamine used in migraine treatment. Raynaud's can also be caused by silicon breast implants.