Someone having Raynaud's disease suffers with an abnormality that affects the blood vessels in the hands, feet and sometimes the ear lobes and nose. When exposed to cold temperatures, the blood vessels in these regions excessively constrict, which depletes vital blood and oxygen circulation. The affected areas turn white then blue as blood and oxygen are forced out of the vessels and inhibited from returning. When circulation returns, the areas turn bright red in response to the quick blood inflow.
Importance of Rewarming
The disease process is often progressive and spreads from one or two to all of the digits and possibly the hands or feet. An attack of Raynaud's phenomena may last a few minutes or a few hours. When an episode occurs, it is important to take measures to return circulation as quickly as possible. The longer the tissues remain deprived of blood and oxygen, the greater the possibility that permanent damage may occur. In extreme cases, amputation becomes necessary.
Place hands or feet in warm but not hot water. Gently massage the area to encourage blood flow return. Avoid vigorous stimulation in order to prevent tissue damage. A simple exercise is also effective in encouraging circulation. Stand with feet slightly apart and arms relaxed at your sides. Start swinging your arms back and to the front until they are approximately shoulder height. On every count of five, bend at the knees and return to a standing position. Gravity and motion move the blood downward into the hands while the occasional knee bend pumps blood throughout the body. Continue the exercise until adequate circulation returns.
Microwavable Spa Gloves and Booties
Typically made from a soft fleece material, each affordable glove or booty contains a packet filled with beans, peas, rice, other type of grain or a synthetic gel. Users simply heat this packet in the microwave according to the manufacturer's instructions. Place the bag inside the garment, put the booty or glove on, and enjoy soothing heat.
Battery Operated Devices
There are numerous products on the market that vary in price, which contain miniature battery-operated heating elements in the garments. Various companies manufacture gloves, mittens, socks, boot or shoe inserts and booties that contain these features. Some garments require that the user also wear a small attached battery pack. Other products use small, rechargeable cell batteries. Many products offer heat adjustment features. The garments can be used to prevent a Raynaud's attack or to rewarm hands and feet after an episode occurs.
Preventative measures are equally important. Stop smoking and avoid caffeine as both habits constrict blood vessels. Stress can also trigger an attack. Avoid stressful circumstances or adopt stress relieving techniques. Wear protection when reaching inside of the refrigerator, and reconsider using air conditioning. Wear protective garments on hands and/or feet indoors and out as needed.