How Heat Affects Varicose Veins
No matter the season, excessive warmth can increase blood flow and worsen your varicose vein symptoms.
Patients with varicose veins may feel relieved that summer is gone — now that temperatures have dipped, you can cover your legs, cozy up indoors, and stop worrying about hiding from the summer sun.
But don’t relax too soon: winter is the season of toasty baths, hot tubs, and saunas. Patients might understandably be tempted to seek relief from the chilly weather with these extra-warm activities. However, you should be cautious, as excessive heat can actually put your vein health at risk.
How Does Heat Affect Varicose Veins?
Warmth has a dilatory effect on veins, which means the veins widen and more blood flows to the surface of the skin. For most people, this is actually a healthy cooling mechanism, and heat alone won’t cause varicose veins if you don’t already have them.
But varicose veins are already distended, and aren’t healthy enough to undergo additional swelling. The vein walls are weakened to such a point that increased blood flow can cause further bulging, and in some cases, warmth can even lead to spontaneous bleeding.
In most cases, heat will at least lead to discomfort. In the summertime, a hot day can aggravate varicose vein symptoms. In the winter, just turning up the thermostat might worsen your condition, leaving you with swollen, painful, and heavy legs. In these cases, applying a cool cloth or taking a cold shower may counteract the effect.
What Activities Are Safe for Varicose Veins?
Varicose vein sufferers should be careful about their warm wintertime activities. Soaking in a hot tub or jacuzzi is not advisable, as this creates the ideal environment for elevated blood flow. You should even be cautious about underfloor heating and avoid turning your thermostat up too high.
But you may be able to indulge to a limited extent. For some, a short warm shower or bath might not aggravate their symptoms to the point of discomfort. Saunas will likely be too intense for varicose vein patients, but a short session could be possible if you keep your legs covered with a cool cloth and immediately rinse them with cool water afterward.
The summertime poses additional challenges for varicose vein patients. Staying in air conditioned areas is a good choice, but isn’t always possible. Besides, moderate activity can actually boost vein health. While you should still enjoy the outdoor weather, but your best bet is to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day. You can also trying sitting in the shade, using a fan, and applying wet towels to keep cool.
Regain Your Comfort
For varicose vein patients, season extremes can cause discomfort and limit your freedom. If you find your condition is excluding you from your favorite activities, it may be time to schedule an appointment with the experts at the Center for Vein Restoration. We can talk about treatment options such as VenaSeal and sclerotherapy, which can clear up your legs and allow you to appreciate warmth once again.