Raynaud's is very common in teenagers, often presenting around puberty but in the majority of cases, disappearing in the early twenties. However, in a small number of youngsters the symptoms may persist. Raynaud's in young children is very rare and tests should be carried out to find out whether there is an underlying problem.
Raynaud’s should be taken seriously as problems experienced during these years can be more than just a nuisance. It can be painful, embarrassing and restrict daily activities. It can be difficult to explain to friends why you can’t always join in. As a result, the temptation is to opt out and this could make you feel worse.
Many teenage sufferers still enjoy a wide range of activities such as horse riding, cycling, swimming and even skiing, just by taking a few simple precautions. Exercise in the right environment should be encouraged.
It can be very distressing to feel that you are on your own, but if you take the time and trouble to explain to your teachers and friends it will help them to understand. Permission may be needed to stay indoors at break times in very cold or windy weather. However, don’t use your Raynaud’s as an excuse not to exercise. Your P.E. teacher will have heard all the excuses for not doing games before and if you have not explained about your Raynaud’s, then he or she is unlikely to be sympathetic. Make your problems known, ask to wear extra layers - tights or track suit bottoms and gloves, two pairs of socks and larger trainers for physical education. Don’t suffer in silence!
If your Raynaud’s is too severe for outdoor activities, consider alternatives and find an indoor hobby you can become involved with. A range of heating aids are available from the Raynaud’s & Scleroderma Association which may help you.
A doctor may prescribe drugs called vasodilators if your condition gets worse. There are many drugs in this category which work by opening up or relaxing the blood vessels. It is important for you to understand your own problems and to work out ways of coping with them. If you have a mild form of Raynaud’s, your doctor may suggest that you simply wear warm clothing, protect yourself from the cold and avoid changes in temperature rather than taking drugs.
Unlike teenage Raynaud’s it is quite rare for a young child or baby to have Raynaud’s. If symptoms do occur, the doctor will probably look for an underlying disorder and make a referral to a paediatrician. Raynaud’s can appear with no apparent cause and parents have to cope with a child who is too young to communicate what is wrong. It is difficult for a youngster to understand that they have to keep warm in order to lessen the pain which they may be experiencing in their hands and/or feet.
Take care when bathing a young child. Temperatures which may feel acceptable to you may be too hot and painful. It is better to half fill a bath with luke warm water and gradually top it up as their body gets used to the temperature. A warm bath on going to bed can help to heat the whole body through and warming the bed will also help to keep the body at a steady temperature.
Try to keep the house at an even temperature and before going out, warm the clothing, especially gloves, scarves, socks, shoes etc. A child will soon come to realise that warmth is comfortable and cold is not. It is important to educate your child to cope in the best way possible, as this condition may be with them throughout their school days. It will eventually be their problem and not yours as they grow older, so try not to over protect. There is usually a solution and staff at school will understand if you talk to them about it.
To download our leaflet on Raynaud's in Teenagers & Youngsters click here.