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Mysterious episodes of redness on knuckles and fingers- benign or not?
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Mysterious episodes of redness on knuckles and fingers- benign or not?

For the last few years I've had something that appears to be a mild Raynaud's syndrome. Once in a while, 1-2 fingers or toes will get white and very numb (but not much more than that- they never get blue). With my fingers, it's often happened when driving in cold weather, pressing my fingers to the top of the cold steering wheel. I think it tends to happen more often when I'm stressed, but I'm not sure.

When I started considering whether I might have Raynaud's, I started paying attention to other things. For instance: often, my knuckles and fingers suddenly become red. It has happened for a long time - years, probably - but I've always dismissed it, since it's painless and quickly goes away (after around 10-30 minutes). Here's a more complete description:
- The rash is just red; it's a rush of blood
- My fingers feel warm (like the feeling in your cheeks when you blush)
- Painless, itchless
- Smooth, not bumpy/scaly
- It appears in a somewhat strange rash-like pattern - kind of splotchy on the edges. (But the splotches are small).
- It's always stronger on my right hand than my left hand
- In my right hand, the rash covers most of the base knuckles of each finger; the space above those knuckles is somewhat red; the middle knuckles of each finger are much less red; and the upper knuckles, as well as the space between them and the fingernails, are more red.
- In my left hand, it's just on my index finger (in a similar pattern), or not present at all
- I can tell that an episode of redness has an ending point. When it ends, the splotchy pattern turns into a general, non-localized redness, and then it slowly fades into a normal color. It's as if the blood gets stopped up in some capillaries, and when the episode ends, the capillaries allow the blood through & it disperses and circulates normally. (That's just my guess.)
- I can't tell what triggers it.  A couple times, it was an hour or two after a hot shower. Once, it was after I was washing dishes with hot water. Sometimes it seems random- no hot/cold temperatures involved. Once it was while I was playing the violin (and that time, it didn't appear on my left hand at all).

When I tried to search Google for what might be happening, here's what I found:
- It's probably "erythematous". (However, erythema seems to be raised or scaly sometimes... this is pretty 2-dimensional.)
- It resembles pictures of "Gottron's sign," which is apparently a symptom of dermatomyositis. It's like this picture:
http://medlibes.com/uploads/Screen%20shot%202010-07-28%20at%2010.29.52%20PM.png
However, it's a lot more red between the base and middle knuckles of each finger. Also, it's not symmetrical between the right and left hands.
- It also somewhat resembles pictures of erythema on knuckles due to lupus. However, I highly doubt I have lupus; a few days ago I tried sitting in the sun for about half an hour, and nothing happened. I don't get unexplained fevers. I do get chills sometimes - I often wear sweaters and coats indoors (and sometimes warm hats) - but usually it's cold outside. I don't look in the mirror very often and when I do, I don't pay attention to my face. Lately, I've been paying attention, and I do not have the butterfly rash. (Once, after a shower, my cheeks and nose were red in the butterfly pattern; it faded after 5-10 minutes.) I do periodically get sores in my mouth. Six months ago, my hair cutter said I had unusual amounts of hair falling out; but it doesn't seem very unusual to me, and it definitely isn't noticeable on my head. I do get tired/fatigued sometimes, but I never know if it's because I stayed up late, didn't exercise, didn't eat enough, or ate too many carbs. (These are all somewhat common for various reasons.) Anyway, I'm female and in my mid-twenties, which seems to be the case for many people with lupus. But again, I doubt that I have it.
- Some other conditions sounded like they produce similar rashes, like rheumatoid arthritis. However, they all involve joint pain. My fingers do NOT hurt at all. I suppose other joints sometimes hurt a bit, but I can usually name another cause (e.g. sore ankles after I've gone on a hike after not exercising; sore knees, but I like to run and jump around, skip stairs, etc; sore right wrist, but it feels like a flare-up of the tendinitis I had 10 years ago).

Anyway, now that I've started trying to figure this out, it would be great to find out whether this is actually cause for concern, or whether it's just a random benign reaction, as I've always assumed. Do I need to see a doctor about it?   It doesn't bug me at all. If it never did anything different for the rest of my life, I would be perfectly happy.

However I'm curious about why it lasts for just 20-30 minutes. I haven't found anything on the Internet that mentions that aspect. And I really doubt that I have lupus, but it's a bit scary that the 'rash' corresponds to descriptions/pictures of it.

If you've read all the way to the end of this... thanks!! I hope someone knows something that can shed light on it.
5 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello, to be honest I would still go get checked at a doctor just in case. It could be nothing, but it could be something serious going on with in your body. It could have to do with your blood flow. So while its not bothersome, you should just make sure. Who knows you may catch something early on.

Also, I am just starting to look into lupus myself. While it would be scary to have a dxs of lupus, which I am not sure you have. It would also be a great thing to catch it early on. Try not to stress so much, but do go get checked just in case. Praying for you

Kimberly
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434278_tn?1324709825
I think it is probably primary raynauds or possibly dermatomyositis.

The fact that you are prone to cold points me more to raynauds.  There are two kinds, primary and secondary.  The secondary comes w/ other autoimmune diseases.  So I think yours is primary.
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Avatar_m_tn
Just wondering what you have found out! You are describing me!
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Avatar_m_tn
Did you ever find out what this was? You sound like me!
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Avatar_m_tn
Does anyone have any updates or diagnosises to discuss as of now? I'm having this exact same problem and really want to know what it is!!!! Any info would be helpful, please!
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