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What Blue Fingertips Say About Your Health

Health Signs in Hands: Page 7

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Fingertips that are gray- or blue-tinged or feel numb can be a sign of a circulatory disorder known as Raynaud's disease or Raynaud's syndrome.

Why? Raynaud's syndrome causes sudden temporary spasms in the blood vessels and arteries. The narrowed arteries, Blanchard says, constrict blood flow to the hands and fingers, decreasing circulation. Symptoms include cold hands and numb fingertips, in addition to a bluish tinge. Between 5 and 10 percent of people have this condition, so it's more common than you might think. Raynaud's is more common in women than men, and it gets worse in cold weather. It's also brought on by increased stress.

What to do: Sudden changes in temperature, such as taking ice cubes out of the freezer, can bring on a Raynaud's attack, so be aware of this effect and ask others to perform such tasks when possible. Wear gloves when you go outside in cold weather, since cold is one of the major triggers for Raynaud's. Even temperatures below 60 degrees are a problem for many Raynaud's sufferers, so you may want to stash gloves in your car, in your purse or briefcase, and by the front door.

It's important not to ignore symptoms, since, over time, Raynaud's attacks can restrict circulation to the point of causing tissue damage. The best way to prevent Raynaud's is to make lifestyle changes to keep your circulation healthy. Smoking and caffeine both constrict blood vessels, so quit smoking and cut down on coffee, tea, and cola. Boost your aerobic exercise to raise your heart rate and get your blood pumping.

Some people suffer from "secondary" Raynaud's, brought on by another underlying condition. In this case, treating the underlying condition is the key to preventing Raynaud's attacks.