Since there’s no single test to diagnose Raynaud’s, doctors generally rely on either witnessing an attack or listening to a patient describe their symptoms. But if their description doesn’t correspond to the text book triad of color changes (white/blue/red) or reference to pain or experience (e.g., numbness) they studied in medical school, Raynaud’s symptoms can easily be shrugged off as no big deal.

Many Frosties (our affectionate nickname for Raynaud’s sufferers) can relate to the way other people respond to them when they are having attacks, or how difficult it can be to avoid being uncomfortable in situations that require no effort for the average person.

So we made a checklist that may offer useful Raynaud’s indicators for sufferers.  The list may also prove helpful for friends, family and co-workers to reference in order to take a loved one or a colleague more seriously when they are uncomfortable or appear in pain with no visible explanation.

The list covers three categories:

  1. Textbook Symptoms
  2. Other People’s Reactions
  3. Lifestyle Issues

Textbook Symptoms

When exposed to cold temperatures or stress, do your fingers, toes or other extremity (nose, ears and more) ever:

  • Become painful
  • Skin turns white or blue (or even purplish)
  • Go numb or tingle
  • Begin to throb or swell
  • Skin turns red or pinkish when warm or calm again

Keep in mind that individual thresholds will differ – where one person will experience discomfort at 60 degrees or lower, another sufferer may be uncomfortable at as high as 75 degrees.  How we define and relate to stress also varies greatly, so it’s not easy to define the specific triggers that will launch Raynaud’s attacks.

Other People’s Reactions

While not obvious signals one-by-one, if someone regularly has experiences like the ones below, they may indicate that a person should consult a doctor about Raynaud’s:

  • Been called “Zombie Hands” or “Corpse Toes” (from fingers/toes turning white)
  • Colleague remarks your hands are cold during a hand shake
  • Partner/spouse complains you have icy toes in bed
  • People stare at you funny for pulling out gloves or a sweater in the grocery store in the summer
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