The role of the dermatologist in Raynaud's phenomenon: a clinical challenge

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Jul;32(7):1120-1127. doi: 10.1111/jdv.14914. Epub 2018 Apr 11.


Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) is a functional vascular disorder involving extremities. In his practice, the dermatologist may frequently encounter RP which affects mainly women and is categorized into a primary benign form and a secondary form associated with different diseases (infections, drugs, autoimmune and vascular conditions, haematologic, rheumatologic and endocrinologic disorders). Still today, the differential diagnosis is a clinical challenge. Therefore, a careful history and a physical examination, together with laboratory tests and nailfold capillaroscopy, is mandatory. RP is generally benign, but a scheduled follow-up for primary RP patients should be established, due to risk of evolution to secondary RP. A combination of conservative measures and medications can help in the management of RP. The importance of avoiding all potential physical, chemical and emotional triggers, as well as quitting smoking, should be strongly suggested to the patient. As first-line treatment, dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers should be used. If this approach is not sufficient, prostacyclin derivatives, phosphodiesterases inhibitors and endothelin receptor antagonists can be considered as second-line treatment. In cases of acute ischaemia, nifedipine and intravenous prostanoids are helpful. In refractory cases, botulinum injections have shown a significant benefit. The approach to the RP patients requires therefore a coordinated care of specialists together with the primary care physician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatology*
  • Fingers / pathology*
  • Gangrene / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Ischemia / drug therapy
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Microscopic Angioscopy
  • Necrosis / prevention & control
  • Physician's Role*
  • Raynaud Disease / complications
  • Raynaud Disease / diagnosis*
  • Raynaud Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Raynaud Disease / therapy*