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 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.