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What is Raynaud’s Phenomenon? How can we treat it?

Raynaud's phenomenon is when blood vessels in the fingers constrict or narrow in response to cold or emotional stress. The resulting disruption in blood circulation causes a series of color changes in the skin: white, blanched or pale, when circulation is reduced or stopped; blue as the affected part lacks oxygen from decreased blood flow; and then red or flushed as blood flow returns. Raynaud's phenomenon affects about 4% of the general population. It is present in over 90% of patients with scleroderma. "Crises" can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours and tend to worsen with time. Although, there is currently no cure for Raynaud's phenomenon, many common-sense preventative measures can be taken by those affected. The most obvious is minimizing exposure to cold, wear gloves or mittens and avoid smoking.

What is calcinosis?

Calcinosis is calcium deposits that occur at the distal ends of the fingers, tendons, joint capsules or pre-articular (fingers, elbows) and, in some rare cases, at the anterior surface of the legs or buttocks. When the accumulation is close to the surface of the skin, it can produce a spontaneous discharge (drainage) with or without infection, because this opening to the skin is a new gateway for bacteria. Sometimes the accumulation of calcium is harmful and requires drainage. It might be tempting for patients to intervene on themselves with household tools, such as knives or needles, to accelerate drainage. Here a word of cautious is in order: these tools are usually not properly sterile, and by doing so the patient might introduce harmful bacteria in his/her skin, thus causing an infection that might otherwise be avoided. A calcinosis drainage must only be performed by a surgeon, under antibiotics.