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Health Tip: Understanding Raynaud's Disease

Raynaud's disease is a rare disorder in which the blood vessels occasionally narrow and reduce blood supply to areas like the fingers, toes and lips.

If the condition occurs without any known cause, it is known as Raynaud's disease. If it occurs as a result of a known cause, it's known as Raynaud's phenomenon.

In both types of Raynaud's, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says, narrowed vessels can be triggered by events like exposure to cold temperatures, stress and other emotions. The areas to which the blood supply is reduced -- most commonly fingers and toes -- may turn white or develop a bluish tinge. Less often, the condition affects the nose, ears, nipples and lips.

Once blood flow has returned to normal, the skin on the affected area may turn red, throb or feel numb or tingly.

For most people, Raynaud's is more of a bother than a dangerous condition, the institute says. But people with severe cases can suffer tissue damage, it adds.