Raynaud disease is the tendency of cold temperatures and anxiety to trigger spasms in the arteries of the arms and legs, which causes skin discoloration and discomfort. Children who have this condition may have no other health problems, or they may have an underlying immune disease, such as lupus. When Raynaud disease occurs with no underlying disease, it is called Raynaud's phenomenon.
A three-phase color change is indicative of Raynaud’s disease:
The symptoms of Raynaud disease are usually brought on by exposure to cold air temperature or by touching something icy. Reaction to emotional stress can also trigger the condition. In its severest form, if left untreated, the condition can rarely lead to a shutdown of blood vessels and breakdown of tissue in the affected areas.
If you believe your child may have Raynaud disease, you should seek the evaluation of a pediatric rheumatologist who can make a correct diagnosis: Many teens have hyper-reactivity of their blood vessels that is less severe and does not lead to tissue injury. This is called acrocyanosis, and it is not harmful.
In diagnosing Raynaud disease, your child’s doctor will determine if there is an underlying immune disease causing the condition, which is known as secondary Raynaud phenomenon. If your child has no underlying medical condition causing this condition, then he or she is said to have primary Raynaud disease. Because there is no single blood test that can help your child’s doctor pinpoint Raynaud specifically, one or more of the following tests may be performed to determine if your child has a related or underlying condition:
The above tests can help indicate if Raynaud disease is likely to need treatment and determine whether another condition is likely to be present.
Your child’s doctor will prescribe the course of treatment best suited to his or her specific case of Raynaud. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
Your child’s doctor may recommend avoiding over-the-counter cold and sinus medications that contain pseudoephedrine and beta blockers. These medicines can aggravate the symptoms of Raynaud disease.
It is important to note that the primary symptom of another condition called acrocyanosis can mimic the first phase of Raynaud disease. Acrocyanosis causes a persistent, dusky blue and cold feeling in the feet and hands. The condition is frequently seen in adolescents who are experiencing normal hormone changes during puberty or are on medicines for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those who have blue discoloration of the skin but never exhibit the other color changes associated with Raynaud do not have Raynaud disease and have low risk of tissue injury.
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