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What Can Cause Red Fingers?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many possible causes of red fingers. Among those most likely to cause this symptom are extreme changes in temperature, such as exposure to very cold then warm or hot weather. Conditions like scleroderma and Raynaud’s phenomenon can also cause this color change. Additionally, a person may notice a reddened appearance in his fingers when he has an infection that affects his hand or if he develops a rash on his fingers.

Often, the cause of finger discoloration is a change in temperature. For example, some people notice that their fingers take on a reddish tint when they are outside in the cold or when they return to warm indoor temperatures after being outdoors on a frigid day. Touching something that is very warm or hot can also cause the fingers to appear red, especially if they get burned. This effect is usually temporary, however, and generally fades in time.

Some types of medical conditions can cause this condition as well. In some cases, red fingers occur because of a condition called scleroderma, which is marked by inflammation and damage to a person’s artery walls. It also causes a person’s body to form scar tissue under the skin. With this condition, a person typically experiences a narrowing of the blood vessels in his fingers as well as in other extremities, and this change leads to discoloration of the affected areas. In such a case, a person may note that his fingers begin to look pale and then turn a bluish color before turning red.

Raynaud’s phenomenon is another condition that can cause red fingers. In fact, it causes the same change in finger coloring as scleroderma. This is due to the fact that Raynaud’s phenomenon is actually one of the symptoms of scleroderma. Raynaud’s phenomenon is characterized by the hand or fingers going through a cycle of three colors; white, blue, and then red. This is caused by exposure to certain temperatures or because of conditions that cause the blood vessels in the hand and fingers to narrow, which cuts off the blood supply. When the vessels re-widen, the fingers turn red as the blood rushes back in.

An infection or a rash can also result in red fingers. Typically, an infection that involves one’s fingers causes inflammation in the area, and one of the results of the inflammation can be reddened fingers. In such a case, the affected fingers may be swollen, in addition to the color change. Sometimes, however, a rash is at fault, causing red bumps or spots that give the fingers an overall reddened appearance.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison , Writer
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By burcidi — On Sep 27, 2013

When I asked my professor about which disorders cause red fingers, he listed so many of them -- arthritis, Crohn's disease, Raynaud's disease, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, etc.

But apparently, the exact tone of the red is also important. For example, if the red is bluish, then it's a sign that there is a problem with the lungs. Oxygen causes the blood to be bright red. If blood doesn't have enough oxygen, it can turn a bluish red.

By turquoise — On Sep 26, 2013

@turkay1-- Don't worry, that's normal. It's because of the sudden temperature change. Our body is not able to adapt to temperatures very quickly. I think when the nerves experience a sudden temperature change, it causes pain. Your fingers are probably red for the same reason. Hot water can always make your fingers red because it increases temperature and circulation.

By candyquilt — On Sep 26, 2013

During winter, when I come home and wash my hands with warm water, my fingers become red and hurt a lot. Why does this happen?

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison


Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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