Summer is looming and, for a lot of us, that means tired, aching legs. This applies even more so if you have varicose veins.
If you have varicose veins, you’ll understand how uncomfortable they can be – not to mention unsightly. The fact that summer is the season of bare legs just brings the problem to the forefront of your attention – but it’s not just the appearance of your veins that might bother you more in the warmer months.
Veins are sensitive to changes in temperature, especially extremes. As temperatures rise over summer, along with increased humidity, the physical symptoms of varicose veins often worsen as well. What this means is that you may notice an increase in the pain, swelling and throbbing caused by the bulging veins in your legs or feet at this time of the year.
Why is Hot Weather Bad for Varicose Veins?
Several factors impact varicose veins and worsen them during summer:
- Warmer temperatures in spring and summer cause the blood vessels within the body to expand (dilate) and move blood flow closer to the surface of the skin. This is part of the natural mechanism the body applies to keep as cool as possible and maintain a normal body temperature on hot days, as sweat on the skin’s surface then cools the blood.
When the blood vessels expand, the valves in the veins need to work harder to be effective – and for varicose veins, which are already stretched and not working properly, these valves are already damaged. As a result, hot days make veins look worse and exacerbate symptoms such as aching legs, cramping, and swollen ankles. Hot weather also further damages the veins.
- Sun exposure and UV damage – even a light tan is, sadly, a sign of damage to the skin. Exposure to the sun in summer impacts the elasticity of the skin, and this, in turn, affects the health of the veins. Sun exposure is not a cause of varicose veins in itself, but existing varicose veins can worsen when the skin is exposed to UV rays.
Tips for Surviving Summer with Varicose Veins
- Wear Sunscreen – use it on your entire body to prevent skin cancer, wrinkles, and age spots! Using it specifically on the legs, neck, decollete, and face is also an effective way to prevent the surface damage that worsens varicose veins and spider veins.
- Wear loose-fitting, cotton or linen clothing.
- Stay out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm.
- Choose to stay in the shade where possible and, when possible, indoors in air conditioning or with a fan on the hottest days.
- Moderate exercise keeps your blood flowing and is great for managing the discomfort of varicose veins. Go for a walk early in the morning or at dusk to avoid the hottest part of the day. Swimming is also a great summer exercise.
- A cool bath, shower, or swim is great for keeping cool all over and regulating the function of your veins.
- Avoid hot baths, showers, saunas, and hot tubs.
- Drink plenty of cool (or cold), fresh, water. It helps thin the blood – and thinner blood flows more easily and minimises the stress circulation places on the veins.
- Avoid salty foods, sugary drinks, and limit alcoholic beverages, as these are dehydrating.
- Put your feet up when you can – above the level of your heart – while reading, watching TV, or otherwise relaxing.
- If it’s not too hot, wear compression socks or stockings (available to purchase from Crows Nest Vein Clinic or from your local pharmacy), especially if you are travelling long distances or need to stand for long periods.
Vein Treatment in Summer – Important Considerations
If you are scheduling vein treatment during the warmer months, consider your plans. It’s best to plan for at least a month of recovery time between treatment and the height of summer or a holiday. This is partly because you need to keep out of direct sunlight entirely until the acute inflammation has passed, which takes between two to three weeks after your procedure.
Sun exposure may also trigger melanin production, leading to darker discolouration on the skin overlying recently treated areas.
Many people prefer to wait until autumn, though there is no reason why you should not have your varicose veins treated in summer provided you can comply with these aftercare instructions.
Visit Crows Nest Vein Clinic
NOW is the time to seek a consultation for vein treatment so that you can enjoy the New Year and the height of summer 2022 with pain-free, better-looking, more comfortable legs!
Crows Nest Vein Clinic is arguably the best vein clinic in the Sydney Metropolitan Area. Our expert, compassionate Vein Specialist Dr Nicole James has the exceptional international training and skill to understand her patients’ concerns and determine the ideal, minimally invasive treatment option to achieve the best possible health and cosmetic results.
We are an essential medical service, and our conveniently located vein clinic is open. We strictly comply with all NSW Health COVID-19 guidelines.