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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

POV: You’re in a cold environment (or under intense emotional stress) when your fingers and toes begin to tingle and then go numb. You do everything you can to keep them warm, but it just doesn’t work. Your circulation gradually slows, leaving your extremities white or blue. Then, when you return to somewhere warm (or, alternatively, recover from said emotional stress), your fingers and toes burn before turning red and fading back to your original skin tone.

As fall approaches, many of us are looking forward to a much-needed break from the heat of the Ottawa summer. Others, meanwhile, are very much not excited about the colder months ahead—and about 15% of us for one shared reason. That reason is called Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Does the description above sound familiar? If so, you might be one of the lucky few—and you’re not alone. An estimated 5–20% of females and 4–14% of males experience Raynaud’s phenomenon in their fingers, toes, nose, lips, and ears. In some cases, Raynaud’s phenomenon is caused by an underlying autoimmune disorder, such as lupus, Sjorgen’s syndrome, scleroderma, or rheumatoid arthritis (AKA “Secondary Raynaud’s”). In most cases, however, Raynaud’s phenomenon is not due to another condition (AKA “Primary Raynaud’s”) and is of little cause for concern.

Although it’s a good idea for people who experience these symptoms to check in with a doctor, Raynaud’s is usually a non-serious (albeit painful) condition that can be easily managed with a few lifestyle changes. And so, we bring to you all of the best methods to keep your condition in check. And we guarantee that at least one of these tricks will help to make this fall and winter (at least slightly!) more comfortable for you.

Dress for the weather

This might sound obvious, but the easiest way to keep warm is to dress, well… warm. Think gloves, socks, a warm coat, layers, and a hat. Since Raynaud’s phenomenon happens from the inside out, compression gloves and socks can be especially helpful in preventing an attack. Add an extra pair of thick gloves or socks over top for extra warmth. And, to speed up the rewarming process once you’re back inside, remember to change out of cold or wet clothes as soon as you get the chance.

Use heat tech

A handful of very innovative scientists and product designers have found sneaky ways to combine clothing and thermal energy. From electric hand warmers to thermal insoles, and heat belts to silver socks and gloves, thermal technology can generate the heat that your body sometimes doesn’t. Although there are many disposable options out there, we recommend going for something reusable so you can increase your own temperature without increasing that of the planet.

Keep your insides warm

During a Raynaud’s attack, the circulation in your extremities is reduced, which is why your fingers might look blue (due to an excess of deoxygenated blood) or white (due to less blood altogether). To increase your circulation, remember to stretch and breathe before and during cold exposure and to keep moving. It’s also a good idea to stay nourished and hydrated, maintain your iron and blood sugar levels, and avoid holding your pee, especially in the cold.

Prevent an attack before it happens

To lessen your chances of an attack, practise your favourite stress reduction techniques, stretch your fingers and toes regularly, and avoid carrying anything in a way that is likely to cut off your circulation. Once you’ve noticed that an attack has begun, rewarm the affected areas gradually to lessen the pain of the rewarming process.

Consider taking medication

Although non-invasive preventative measures are often super helpful, sometimes they just aren’t enough. If nothing else on this list is working, consider talking to a doctor about ginkgo biloba or calcium channel blockers, which are medications that have proven to be effective in the management of Raynaud’s phenomenon in certain populations.

On a final (but somewhat tangential) note, many females notice that their symptoms improve with menopause. So… we guess that’s something to look forward to? (Aging has its benefits!) Until then, however, these strategies will have to do—which, thankfully, they almost always do.

For more information on Raynaud’s phenomenon and why it happens, check out this informative, yet accessible webinar by Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK.

Emily wrote and edited for Her Campus and Her Campus at uOttawa from 2020–2022.