In recent days temperatures across the UK have plummeted, making life hard for millions of people with long-term health conditions. During the winter it can be especially difficult for people affected by Scleroderma and Raynaud’s. Many of us take it for granted that the symptoms of chilly hands or cold feet will disappear once spring arrives, but that’s not the case for many people with Raynaud’s.

A trip down the frozen aisle of the supermarket or simply sitting in an air conditioned office anytime of the year, can trigger a painful attack for up to one in six people in the UK, living with a little known condition called Raynaud’s.

Raynaud’s is a condition that affects the blood supply in the body’s extremities – usually the fingers and toes - and many people living with the condition will regularly experience colour changes to the affected area, pain and discomfort. 

Up to 10 million people in the UK are affected by Raynaud’s yet many living with the condition are not aware they have Raynaud’s or that support and treatment is available and left to deal with the impact alone.

Research from Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK (SRUK), the only UK charity dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by Scleroderma and Raynaud’s, reveals that only 4% are able to identify the symptoms of Raynaud’s. SRUK is tackling this lack of understanding by getting everyone affected to unite and #RaiseYourHands in February and Raynaud's Awareness Month.

SRUK has launched a simple online test accessible via their website to help identify if you may have Raynaud’s. At the end of the test you will be given information if you could have Raynaud’s and the next steps to take, which could include top tips on keeping warm or downloadable information to take to your GP. 

For many with Raynaud’s it will be a mild inconvenience, but it's important to manage it and help prevent the development of further conditions as 1 in 10 people affected by Raynaud’s may go on to develop an autoimmune condition like scleroderma (which can cause disability and can be life-threatening), such as Arthritis or lupus, which may need further treatment and close monitoring.

If you think you may have any of the 5 symptoms below, take the test today.

-       Cold fingers and toes

-       Colour changes in the skin in response to cold or stress

-       Colour changes in the affected area to white, then blue and then red

-       Numbness, tingling or pain in the fingers and toes

-       Stinging or throbbing pain upon warming or stress relief

For those diagnosed with Raynaud’s keeping warm is key to avoiding an attack so finding warm, cosy and comfortable clothing to help is important. Our community have given their top ten tips for keeping warm:

1. Put your coat, gloves and scarf on the radiator to warm before you go out - Carole

2. Get your fingers warmed before you go out, easier to keep warm than to get warmed up - Paul

3. Warm showers and baths are super helpful. Light exercise helps sometimes too - Tracy

4. Thermal HeatHolders socks – I love these socks as they are warm and soft - Michelle

5. Prepare! Spare gloves in every coat, and take veggies and fruit out of the fridge in plenty of time before chopping - Claire

6. Simple cheap and essential...a hot water bottle. Carry one in my car, have one upstairs and downstairs at home and take one to work!!! - Jane

7. Always have socks and spare gloves when travelling. Always have extras in my car and different handbags so I am never without - Anna

8. Silver lined cotton gloves and nice thick woolly socks. I try to allow my hands and toes warm up naturally from the cold rather than immersing in warm water as this brings on the chilblains. - Andy

9. Hairdryers! Best way of reheating your extremities after getting too cold. Before I go out, I blast my boots with the hairdryer and then when I come in I strip my gloves and socks off, put the hairdryer on warm (not hot) and gently reheat myself - Tara

10. Putting my clothes in the tumble dryer before I have to get dressed really helps me - Rachael

You can find out more about Raynaud’s and managing the condition on the SRUK website