KidsMD Health Topics

Raynaud Phenomenon in Children

  • Overview

    Peter Nigrovic, MD, Boston Children's Hospital Division of Immunology

    Because our bodies are always reacting to the world around us, it’s normal for our faces, hands and even feet to change color in cold weather as the body uses blood flow to adjust its “thermostat.” But if your child has a rare condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, his blood vessels react in an exaggerated way to cold or stress, with his fingers or toes turning markedly blue and/or white, and sometimes red.

    Seeing your child’s fingers turn blue in temperatures that feel comfortable to you can be a little frightening. However, for the vast majority of children with Raynaud’s phenomenon, the condition is little more than a nuisance and requires no medical treatment, only some simple lifestyle changes.

    • Raynaud’s (pronounced “ray-nodes”) is found in about 4 to 15 percent of the population. It affects females more than males, and tends to begin in the teen years.
    • Color changes show up often in the fingers, sometimes in the toes and rarely in the nose, ears and lips.
    • A Raynaud’s attack can be triggered by emotional stress as well as cold.
    • Children and adolescents most commonly have primary Raynaud’s, which has no known cause and isn’t a serious health threat.
    • Rarely, Raynaud’s is caused by an underlying disease that requires diagnosis and therapy. This is called “secondary Raynaud’s,” and can be a harbinger of a more serious health threat.

    How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches Raynaud’s phenomenon

    While pediatricians can diagnose Raynaud’s, the role of the rheumatologist is to detect any potential underlying cause—such as scleroderma or lupus—and then put together a comprehensive treatment plan. At Children’s, our rheumatologists are well prepared to meet this challenge:

    • Working in one of the largest rheumatology departments in the United States, we treat more than 4,000 outpatients and almost 1,000 inpatients every year.
    • We see children from across the country and around the world for expert consultation and second opinions on difficult or complex inflammatory conditions.
    • We work closely with other Children’s specialists, such as dermatologists and radiologists, to diagnose and manage complex multisystem diseases.

    Reviewed by Peter Nigrovic, MD
    © Children’s Hospital Boston, 2010

Request an Appointment

If this is a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1. This form should not be used in an emergency.

Patient Information
Date of Birth:
Contact Information
Appointment Details
Send RequestIf you do not see the specialty you are looking for, please call us at: 617-355-6000.International visitors should call International Health Services at +1-617-355-5209.
Please complete all required fields

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

Thank you.

Your request has been successfully submitted

You will be contacted within 1 business day.

If you have questions or would like more information, please call:

617-355-6000 +1-617-355-6000
close
Find a Doctor
Search by Clinician's Last Name or Specialty:
Select by Location:
Search by First Letter of Clinician's Last Name: *ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
BrowseSearch
Condition & Treatments
Search for a Condition or Treatment:
Show Items Starting With: *ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
View allSearch
Locations
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO
Close