Raynaud’s disease, or Raynaud’s phenomenon is a vascular condition that causes extreme coldness in the hands and feet (or other body parts). This happens because blood cannot get to those areas easily. Body parts affected by Raynauds can turn white, blue or sometimes even purple. It is often triggered by cold temperatures or things that change blood flow like exercise. It is often correlated with certain autoimmune conditions like lupus, scleroderma and mixed connective tissue disease.
Winter can be a hard time for those with Raynaud’s. Cold outdoor temperatures, swings in temp from hot indoors to cold outdoors, and reduction in exercise will often aggravate it. People are often left with options like wearing gloves all the time or carrying heaters with them. These types of strategies can make getting anything practical done difficult.
For those that suffer from Raynaud’s, here are some simple solutions to help keep those hands and feet warm during the cold winter months.
Warming Essential Oils
To help increase blood flow to the area – consider applying some warm essential oils to the extremities daily. Essential oils like ginger and warm and move blood. Apply 1-2 drops of ginger essential oil to a carrier oil like coconut oil and rub into the hands and feet 1-2 times a day or before going outside. Essential oils can sometimes aggravate the skin though so if you start to notice a rash or skin aggravation at any time, stop applying the oil.
Daily Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt is a type of magnesium salt. When we put Epsom salt into warm water, the combination of the hot water and the magnesium are a perfect vessel dilating combination. Dilation of the blood vessels can help bring blood to the area. This will help warm up hands and feet that are no likely to get good blood flow in general. With Raynauds, if there is a lack of blood flow causing cold, helping to open up the blood vessels daily with magnesium and heat can help.
If you have Raynaud’s in your feet and legs, doing leg inversions (commonly called “Legs up the wall” in yoga) can help. Blood flow to the feet is compromised in most people due to a simple concept called gravity. Blood can get to the legs easily but has a hard time leaving the legs unless our muscles move it up. If blood can’t move away from the legs, it will pool and prevent good circulation which will cause coldness and sometimes pain. To counteract this, you can lie on the floor with your butt against a wall and your legs elevated and resting against the wall. This brings your legs above your heart which can help blood move from the legs to the heart and vice versa. This improves blood flow to the feet and legs, especially if you are sitting all day. This can be done at least 1-2x a day for best effect.
If some of these daily activities are too difficult, consider taking portable warmers with you to stick in your pockets or socks. Something like HotHands hand warmers can be used during the day and last several hours. You can stash them in your pocket and use them to heat up your hands when they start to go cold.
These are just a few options for those with Raynauds to help keep warm in the winter. Raynaud’s though is often associated with autoimmune diseases, and the best way to help improve this condition is by managing the inflammation. For more information about you can help mitigate your own autoimmune process, consider scheduling a free consult with one of our physicians today.