Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do my finger tips turn white in cold weather?"
I am a 53 year old female with no medical problems. I have noticed in the winter and in cold weather that some of my finger tips turn white. They also seem to be a bit numb or have little feeling in them. It only takes a minute or two for it to stop when I warm them up, but it is really annoying and I'm not sure why it happens. Can you tell me what causes this?
What you are describing sounds like a mild case of Raynaud's phenomenon. Raynaud's phenomenon is not usually a disease by itself per se, but rather often is a sign of some other process going on. Basically it is a syndrome where cold whether causes the blood vessels in the fingers to construct which cuts off blood flow to the fingertips. People who smoke, or who consume large amount of caffeine tend to report more severe symptoms. In severe cases, it can cause death to living tissue resulting in the need for finger amputation. Since your case sounds quite mild (not all of you fingers effected, and symptoms rapidly reversed), then I don't think you are in any immediate danger. The bigger question is whether this symptom is a sign of another disease. The most common disease associated with Raynaud's phenomenon is scleroderma. This is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks some of its own tissues. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist. He or she will be able to take a more detailed history of your symptoms and perform a focused physical exam. The rheumatologist will also know the appropriate tests to order in pursuit of the cause of these symptoms. I hope you get to the bottom of it.
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