Raynaud’s Disease: When Your Toes Change Color

You’re feeling really cold, chilled to the bone. And then it happens: your toes turn white as ghosts, as if they’re drained of all blood. Within minutes, they turn a ghastly blue, almost black. You do all you can to get warmed up – hold a hot cup of tea, sit by the heater, put on three pairs of socks. As soon as you’re able to warm up, your toes begin to tingle, and their color slowly returns to normal. For now.

When we see a patient who relates to this, our podiatrists at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists will immediately suspect Raynaud’s phenomenon, also called Raynaud’s disease (pronounced “ray-NOZE”).

Raynaud’s can certainly look disturbing and scary; it’s annoying and sometimes painful, but it’s not a real threat to your digits. The color-changing scene above isn’t the same for all people afflicted with Raynaud’s. Some people’s toes skip the blue stage, or the white stage. It affects people in different ways (many people have it in their fingers as well), but it’s always associated with being cold or being outside in the cold.

What causes Raynaud’s?

Raynaud’s phenomenon occurs when small blood vessels go into spasm, which limits the flow of blood to your fingers and toes. When that normal flow of blood disappears, so does the normal tone of your skin. Doctors don’t really know what causes the blood flow to become restricted in some people or why sensitivity to cold is so drastic in people with Raynaud’s.

Risk factors

  • Gender: women are more likely to have Raynaud’s than men
  • Genes: the condition is often hereditary
  • Smoking
  • Stress

When it isn’t Raynaud’s

Cold feet or toes don’t always indicate Raynaud’s. It’s important to make an appointment with Michael L. Rosenberg, D.P.M., or Heidi M. Christie, D.P.M., our skilled podiatrists, when you have pain or discoloration in your toes. They will take a full medical history and diagnose any underlying conditions that may be causing your symptoms. They can also offer expert advice on warding off the “chilling” signs of Raynaud’s.

Call us at (334) 396-3668 or request an appointment online anytime.