Raynauds Phenomenon Changes Hands Color When Theyre Cold

These hands exhibit people with Raynaud’s phenomenon. (Image: Wikimedia)

It’s a hand of a different color! Although it looks like someone was playing with tie-dye again, it wasn’t a stain that caused these hands to take on an unusual hue.

The hands became discolored due to a rare medical condition known as Reynaud’s phenomenon. Here’s the definition of the phenomenon from the National Institute of Health’s division of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases:

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the extremities—generally, the fingers and toes. It is characterized by episodic attacks, called vasospastic attacks, in which the blood vessels in the digits (fingers and toes) constrict (narrow), usually in response to cold temperatures and/or emotional stress. When this condition occurs on its own, it is called primary Raynaud’s phenomenon. When it occurs with another condition such as scleroderma or lupus, it is called secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon.

The result of one of these attacks can be a change in skin color. NIH explains that the color change is typically from white to blue to red. The white is from spasms occurring in the small branches coming off of an artery (arterioles) and collapse of arteries bring oxygen-rich blood to fingers and toes. The blue color happens from the lack of this oxygen-rich blood. And red happens when the arterioles open up again and allow the oxygen-rich (red) blood back through.

Here are a couple YouTube videos showing you people experiencing the condition:

After an attack begins, NIH stated it can take 15 minutes after warming for coloration to return to normal.

Who is susceptible to the phenomenon? NIH stated those in cold climates and women more than men experience the condition. Most people with the symptoms are considered to have primary Raynaud’s phenomenon. Those with secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon experience it due to an association with an underlying disease.

According to the National Library of Medicine, there are measures people can take to prevent this from happening to them, if they’re susceptible. Stopping smoking, avoiding caffeine, avoiding certain medications and keeping out of the cold are a few of the suggestions.

(H/T: io9)