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When exposed to cold, the blood vessels in the fingers, hands, toes, and feet constrict to prevent heat loss. The blood vessels quickly dilate once they are in a warmer temperature. In Raynaud’s disease, however, the blood vessels stay constricted for up to an hour, cutting off blood to the area and causing abnormally cold hands and/or feet.
Raynaud’s syndrome is an episodic vasospastic disorder characterized by digital color change (white-blue-red) with exposure to cold environment or emotional stress. If idiopathic, it is called Raynaud’s disease. If associated with a possible precipitating systemic or regional disorder (autoimmune diseases, myeloproliferative disorders, multiple myeloma, cryoglobulinemia, myxedema, macroglobulinemia, or arterial occlusive disease), it is called Raynaud’s phenomenon.