Raynaud's Phenomenon

Several different types of drugs may be useful in treating Raynaud's phenomenon. To widen (dilate) blood vessels and promote circulation, a doctor may prescribe:

  • Calcium channel blockers relax and open up small blood vessels in the hands and feet. They decrease the frequency and severity of attacks in about two-thirds of the people who have Raynaud's. These drugs can also help heal skin ulcers on the fingers or toes. Examples include nifedipine (Procardia®, Adalat®),   diltiazem (Cardizem®, Dilacor®),   amlodipine (Norvasc®)   verapamil (Calan®, Isoptin®) and nicardipine (Cardene®).
  • Alpha blockers counteract the actions of norepinephrine, a hormone that constricts blood vessels. Examples include prazocin (Minipress®) and doxazosin (Cardura®).
  • Vasodilators relax blood vessels (e.g., nitroglycerine cream). The cream is applied to fingers to help heal skin ulcers.
  • Other medications. Some people with persistent symptoms may benefit by adding pentoxifylline (Trental®), which improves circulation by making red blood cells more flexible as they pass through narrowed blood vessels.

Some drugs actually can aggravate Raynaud's by leading to increased blood vessel spasm. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid taking:

  • Some over-the-counter cold and diet drugs. Examples include drugs that contain phenylpropanolamine (Contact®, Dexatrim®, Dimetapp®, Sucrets®) or pseudoephedrine (Actifed®, Chlor-Trimeton®, Sudafed®).
  • Beta blockers. This class of drug, used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, may worsen Raynaud's. Examples include metoprolol (Lopressor®, Toprol®),   nadolol (Corgard®) and propranolol (Inderal®, Betachron®).
  • Birth control pills. If you use birth control pills, switch to another method of contraception because these drugs affect your circulation and may make you more prone to attacks.