Scleroderma, a condition that involves the hardening and tightening of skin and connective tissue, is known to affect around 300,000 people in the United States. However, when it comes to the symptoms that accompany scleroderma, Raynaud’s phenomenon may just be one of the strangest that some may experience. Here’s what you need to know about the link between the two — as well as what can be done to effectively manage it.
What Is Raynaud’s Syndrome?
Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon or Raynaud’s disease, occurs when parts of the body — most commonly the fingers and toes — take on an odd discoloration (making the skin appear white or blue) when exposed to cold temperatures, or even emotional distress (such as when under stress). While pain can accompany the strange phenomenon, it may also cause numbness, or a tingling feeling as well. Often referred to as a circulatory disorder, it’s known to occur when the small blood vessels narrow as a response to either emotional distress or change in temperature, which effectively limits the blood circulation to those areas.
Scleroderma And Raynaud’s
Those who experience scleroderma may have a variety of symptoms — such as digestive issues, or even problems with heart, lung or kidney function, depending on the type and severity of the condition. However, generally speaking, the condition is known to cause the skin (as well as connective tissues) to harden and tighten, which can be quite uncomfortable. Commonly known to affect women more than men, there is not a known cause (or cure) for the condition — just treatment via the management of symptoms. When it comes to the link between scleroderma and Raynaud’s, one of the earliest signs of (systemic) scleroderma is actually experiencing Raynaud’s symptoms — in fact, most people who experience scleroderma also have Raynaud’s as well. However, it’s important to note that you don’t have to have scleroderma in order to experience Raynaud’s.
Tips For Managing The Phenomenon
When it comes to managing Raynaud’s, there are a few things that can be done in terms of self care in order to minimize your chances of experiencing a Raynaud’s attack, which is often found frustrating and can interfere with day to day life. For instance, if you experience the phenomenon when in cold temperatures, then staying warm — especially when it comes to your fingers and toes — should be your primary goal. This can be done by layering up your clothing when you know you’ll be going outside in cold weather, and by using devices such as hand warmers as a supplement. Another smart option is wearing heated gloves, which can greatly help to reduce the chances that Raynaud’s will be triggered in cold environments. Taking additional precautions in avoiding an attack of Raynaud’s in everyday life — such as heating up your car or avoiding touching frozen foods without gloves can also help.
For those who have scleroderma, experiencing Raynaud’s phenomenon may be one of the earliest signs. However, while there is no cure for the strange syndrome, it can be treated via self care management by something as simple as wearing heated gloves, which may help in preventing an attack.