What’s Happening Inside Your Cold, White Toes

Vapospasm. Not a word you hear every day, right? It’s a fancy word for a constriction of the blood vessels. In some people, vapospasms in fingers and toes occur in response to a drop in temperature. They step out into the cold, and the blood vessels to their extremities go into spasm. Blood vessels that suddenly become narrow do a lousy job of carrying blood, and so fingers or toes turn white from the lack of blood.

This condition is called Raynaud’s disease, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, and it hits women more often than men. If you’re thinking that people in Hawaii are less prone to the disease, you’re right – cold climates produce more Raynaud’s victims than tropical ones!

Symptoms of Raynaud’s

Symptoms include very cold fingers and toes and also changes to the color of your skin. Very often, skin first becomes bloodless and white and then changes to blue. Once you’re back in a warm environment, vapospasms lessen, blood begins to flow back, and toes turn back to their normal color. The process of warming up can be more painful to your toes than the lack of blood itself.

Causes of Raynaud’s

Doctors don’t really know why some people are afflicted with vapospasms while others are not. It’s thought that some underlying diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, smoking, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even certain medications may worsen the effects in some people.

Risks and complications

With most people, Raynaud’s is simply something that they experience and deal with. There’s nothing to be done except wearing layers of socks and insulated boots, and keeping your feet as warm as possible during the cold weather.

But if your symptoms are severe and really interfering with your life and daily activities, consult the podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland at our office in the historic district of Solon, just southwest of Cleveland. We’re happy to examine your feet and help you ease your symptoms, as well as rule out any other possible reasons for cold, white, blue toes. There are also medications that we can prescribe for the worst cases of Raynaud’s.

Make an appointment with Dr. Craig B. Frey or Dr. Megan L. Oltmann online or call us at (440) 903-1041.