Every fall, when the weather hit 60 degrees or colder, my dad would start wearing gloves. If he didn’t, the ends of his fingers changed colors, turned white or blue, and felt like ice. His fingers became so cold that he had trouble moving them. My dad had Raynaud’s Syndrome. Those living with Raynaud’s know if not managed properly, it can cause pain and discomfort. Before we look at tips to help manage your Raynaud’s, let’s see what causes it.
What Is Raynaud’s
Raynaud’s is a condition in which the blood vessels in your fingers and toes (and for some people, even the tip of the nose), constrict in response to cold, stress, and some medications. The narrowing of the vessels reduces the blood supply, which is why your skin changes color. Some people also experience numbness, pain and a tingling that feels like a “pins-and-needles” sensation. Once the blood supply returns, the skin reddens, which can also cause pain.
Tips to help manage your Raynaud’s include:
- Control your body temperature whenever possible. Turn air conditioning down, or at the least, turn off blowers so the air doesn’t blow directly on you. Keep a lightweight jacket or thin throw blanket handy to cover up when you can’t avoid the air conditioning.
- When outdoors, keep your body from getting too cold by wearing a coat, hat and warm clothing. (My dad resorted to wearing a hat indoors because it worked.) Feathery down coats keep your core warm, won’t weigh you down and allow better movement for better circulation. Wear a scarf, warm socks (with warmers or battery-operated heaters if necessary).
- For your hands, mittens are preferable to gloves as they allow more movement and your fingers help spread the warmth.
- Skin protective gloves, like Protexgloves, keep your hands warm but not sweaty. The soft, tight knit protects hands from cold drafts and makes touching cold surfaces or objects more comfortable. These lightweight gloves don’t restrict your hand movement and offer great dexterity so you can still turn the pages of a book, hold a pen or even scissors.
- Topical creams can also help protect against the loss of your body’s own natural warmth. Warm Skin® All Weather Guard Cream insulates and protects your skin from cold and moisture loss caused by weather conditions.
- Since normal circulation is an issue, try to avoid wearing tight-fitting jewelry
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol and quit smoking
- Some medications, like over-the-counter cold and allergy pills, and diet aids can trigger symptoms. Migraine medicines that contain ergotamine, and birth control pills, can affect blood flow
- Exercise increases blood flow and helps keeps you warm. Making regular activity a part of your life is helpful.
- Stress can also play a role in triggering symptoms. Learn ways to handle your stress– yoga, meditation, running, are all possibilities. Experiment to learn what works best for you.
For more information, visit the Raynaud’s Association http://www.raynauds.org/Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!
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