As scientists edge closer to a cure for chronic cold hands – these rapid remedies can help when Raynaud’s strikes
- Researchers are getting closer to figuring out what causes Raynaud’s disease
- Bundling up, running your hands under warm water and staying dry can help
- READ MORE: Finally a cure for chronic cold hands? Study finds cause of Raynaud’s
Last month, science moved one step closer to figuring out what causes a chronic condition of cold hands that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
The study found that changes in two genes were responsible for Raynaud’s syndrome, a chronic condition that makes it difficult for blood supply to reach the fingers and toes.
In the meantime, health care experts recommend a range of quick remedies that can provide at least some relief when the condition’s infamous symptoms — icy hands and feet — strike.
Although health care experts have identified risk factors and lifestyle or medical problems associated with the syndrome, no known genetic cause had been discovered until now
Raynaud’s disease – which affects an estimated two to five percent of people – causes miniature spasms in the blood vessels, cutting off blood flow to the fingers and toes
Run warm water over your hands and feet
When Raynaud’s attack strikes, warm water can relax muscles and improve circulation.
This is because warm water is a vasodilator, meaning it dilates blood vessels, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Physiotherapy Sciences.
However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns against using hot water because it can burn the skin or numb your extremities, making it difficult to feel any relief.
Run your hands under a warm tap and then put on some extra layers of clothing to try to retain the heat.
Swing your arms in circles across the body
The National Institutes for Health also recommends waving your arms in a windmill pattern to improve blood flow to the arms and hands.
This can be done while standing or taking a walk.
Likewise, the Mayo Clinic also suggests wiggling your fingers and toes or placing your hands under your armpits, which are naturally warm and help keep body heat close to you.
At the first sign of a Raynaud’s attack, grab mittens or a pair of wool socks to quickly warm your body.
Alberta Health Services in Canada suggests choosing mittens over gloves because mittens keep the fingers together, which helps increase body heat.
However, try fingerless gloves indoors so you can still type or perform other tasks that require the use of your hands.
There are several fingerless gloves on Amazon and other retailers that are designed for offices — so if you don’t mind a few fun looks, these could be your best bet.
And while it may sound counterintuitive, experts recommend avoiding tight clothing, which can restrict blood flow.
Stay away from the air conditioner
The Mayo Clinic advises patients with Raynaud’s disease to avoid rapidly changing temperatures, such as moving quickly from a hot to a cold location. This could be diving into the produce aisle of a supermarket on a hot summer day.
If you must step into the air conditioning, wear warm clothes to prevent your body temperature from changing too quickly.
The American College of Rheumatology also suggests not running AC settings too high during the summer.
Go for a walk
Weather permitting, a short walk outside can provide some warmth for cold hands and feet.
This is because walking increases the heart rate. As your heart rate increases, the blood vessels expand.
This in turn improves circulation and allows more oxygen to flow through your hands and feet.