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Don’t Panic if Your Toes Turn White in the Cold

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition that strikes certain people when they’re cold. It’s a disorder of the tiny blood vessels located in your fingers and toes. For reasons that are not altogether clear to doctors and researchers, these vessels respond to the cold by going into spasms and restricting blood flow. Fingers and toes turn ghostly white, blue, or some combination of these colors.

The vast majority of people with this condition have Primary Raynaud’s, which means that it’s not associated with any other condition. However, it’s possible for cold, white toes to indicate an underlying disease. Only a small percentage of people fall into this category (Secondary Raynaud’s). But for this reason, it’s important to ask your primary care doctor or board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm to evaluate your symptoms.

More about the symptoms

First, you can suspect Raynaud’s disease if your toes repeatedly turn white or blue when your body’s cold. You can be doubly suspicious if numbness and pain accompany the discoloration. Finally, many people also feel pain as their toes begin to warm up – for example, after going back inside.

Managing the symptoms

To prevent an attack of Raynaud’s, protect your extremities when you’re out in the cold. Wear heavy, moisture-wicking socks and thick, sturdy boots when you spend time outside. Some of Raynaud’s sufferers have such an extreme reaction that they place toe-warmers in their boots as an added preventative measure. If Raynaud’s bothers you enough that it interferes with your daily activities, Dr. Wilhelm may prescribe medications that help prevent the spasms.

When it’s not Raynaud’s

If you’ve been out in the cold for a prolonged period of time and experience cold, red, swollen, itchy, or burning toes, contact Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Fairfax County immediately. We want to eliminate the possibility of other threatening toe conditions such as chilblains, frostbite, an infection, or PAD.

When the cold weather is at odds with your foot health, count on Dr. Wilhelm to put you back on your feet as quickly as possible. For excellence in foot care in northern Virginia, call us in Centreville at (703) 996-3000 or request an appointment online.

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