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For most people, cold temperature or stress triggers an attack. Typically, when the body is exposed to cold, the hands and feet lose heat rapidly. In order to conserve heat, the body reduces blood flow near the skin surface and moves it deeper into the body. For people with Raynaud’s, this normal response is exaggerated by sudden spasms of the small blood vessels that supply blood to the fingers and toes. This greatly reduces the blood supply to the hands and feet, causing changes in the skin color and temperature.
Treatment for Raynaud’s is directed at reducing the number and severity of attacks in order to prevent tissue damage. People with Raynaud’s should follow all of the above recommendations for preventing attacks. In addition, if attacks are triggered by exposure to cold, placing the affected body part in warm water may help to stop symptoms. Other treatment methods include medications and biofeedback.
Using your mind to control stress and body temperature may help to decrease the severity and frequency of attacks. This may include guided imagery and/or deep breathing exercises. A psychologist may be helpful in designing a biofeedback program that meets your needs.