My 10 Top Tips For Managing Raynaud’s Disease

by | Feb 3, 2019 | Chronic Illness, Raynaud's Disease, Scleroderma | 2 comments

I’m continuing with my Raynaud’s Disease blog posts this month for Raynaud’s Awareness Month today with my 10 top tips to manage Raynaud’s throughout the seasons. I’m going to start this post with a copy and paste of what Raynaud’s Disease is from my previous posts (I have a whole section for my Raynaud’s posts right here) and then this will follow the 10 most effective ways I find to manage Raynaud’s Disease on a daily basis.

If you are a Raynaud’s sufferer I would love to connect so please let me know if any of the tips help you out or if you have any other things you’d like me to add!

Top Tips For Managing Raynaud's Disease

What is Raynaud’s Disease?

Raynaud’s is the constriction of blood vessels in response to a decrease in temperature, and/or stress. This narrowing of the blood vessels can be extremely painful, accompanied with a burning or tingling sensation. 

The symptoms can cause an extremely visible three-way colour change to the affected area, which can include any site on the body. The hands and feet are most commonly affected, but the ears, nose, and tongue, among other sites, can be affected also.

Raynaud’s can be present on its own, where it is called Primary Raynaud’s, or it can appear along with another medical condition, like an autoimmune disease such as Scleroderma (that I was diagnosed with last year), or Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Thryroid problems, Atherosclerosis and other conditions where it is known as Secondary Raynaud’s.

Drug treatments can target symptom suppression, however the more potent the drug, the more intense the side effect. If Raynaud’s symptoms are not managed correctly, digital ulceration, gangrene, and even amputation can result. 

example of raynaud's disease

1. Wear multiple layers of loose clothing and a hat when it’s cold

The first tip seems pretty obvious but dressing in warm clothes and wearing warm gloves, socks, and a hat is really important. A lot of heat is lost through our head so keep it wrapped up and warm (that tip was especially stressed by my rheumatologist). Perhaps in a Beauxoxo Beret, for example! I’m also a huge fan of Heat Holders and Turtle Dove Gloves (find my review of their fingerless gloves right here). But essentially, keeping warm is very important. Layers of clothing work best at trapping the heat than thinner clothes. However, in Spring and Summer, you can then wear several thin layers as needed to trap heat in against your body as Raynaud’s attacks can occur throughout the year. 

2. Keep your hands and feet warm and dry

If my hands are damp or wet I’m especially prone to a Raynaud’s attack. To deal with this, I carry a tenugui around with me in my handbag. A tenugui is a thin Japanese hand towel made from cotton but I purchased many there that are simply a flannel fabric with adorable embroidered details. In everyday Japanese life, a tenugui has a similar function to towels, being used as a washcloth or dishcloth, for example. This will become your best friend if you have Raynaud’s and I use it in public bathrooms as the hand dryers can provoke a Raynaud’s attack and I dislike paper towels for environmental reasons. It also just feel like a little hug for your hands!

3. Use hand warmers

Another handbag essential for Raynaud’s disease are hand warmers that can also be placed in pockets, gloves and so on. Hand warmers are the perfect way to keep your hands warm on the go with Raynaud’s as they supply therapeutic, portable heat, subduing the effects of Raynaud’s syndrome both indoors and out. You can purchase some great ones from Heatbands right here

4. Wear gloves to touch frozen or cold foods

Top tip number 4: have gloves EVERYWHERE! Because even indoors getting food from the fridge or freezer can be so painful for a Raynaud’s sufferer. Also, preparing a meal can be troublesome because often as I’m chopping vegetables or dealing with food from the fridge I can have an attack. My best tip is to wear rubber gloves to chop vegetables and have for preparing food. And if you can invest in a good food chopper that will make life far more manageable. 

5. Reduce Physical Stress

As we’ve seen so far, Raynaud’s isn’t something that simply occurs with cold weather. Another huge factor for Raynaud’s attacks is stress both physically and emotionally and this will bring on Raynaud’s symptoms regardless of the weather outside. It’s, of course, impossible in this day and age to completely avoid stress but there are ways that we can limit it and its effects. Take time out to do things that you enjoy that actively help to de-stress and relax you and promote a feeling of peace and tranquillity. Additionally, simple joys such as meditating, taking a warm bath, having a massage with essential oils, and breathing exercises can be so effective to manage Raynaud’s. 

6. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet

To manage the symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease, it’s important to try to maintain a balanced, healthy diet and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Eating a diet with plenty of omega-3s, fresh vegetables, berries, wild-caught salmon, bone broth, nuts and seeds, good quality organic meats, and spices and herbs are all excellent choices as a starting point.

Then there are also certain foods that are also believed to help, like ginger, garlic and spicy food to help boost circulation (please note if you have an auto-immune disease like me and secondary Scleroderma, spicy foods such as chilli are to be avoided due to GERD. I’ll revisit this in a future post!). However, it should be noted that no particular food or diet has been proven to cure Raynaud’s. 

In addition to adding these healing foods to your diet, you can also look to avoid eating certain foods that weaken your immune system and lead to inflammation. For this, I would highly recommend seeing a dietician (I see someone a few times a year) because certain foods can trigger an inflammatory response and make autoimmune and Raynaud’s symptoms worse. This includes refined carbohydrates, foods made with artificial ingredients and chemicals, and, as discussed above, alcohol and caffeine.

In addition to a balanced diet, I also add some food supplements to my diet that a variety of research has shown to help Raynaud’s sufferers. As with all food supplements and vitamins, it’s imperative to research yourself carefully to ensure it is the best fit for you and also consult your dietician, doctor or specialist. Top supplements for Raynaud’s Disease include evening primrose oil, gingko biloba (I take one tablet a day and it also have so many other incredible benefits) and vitamins e and c and fish oils. 

7. Watch indoor and sudden changes in temperature

Many people think Raynaud’s is something that simply occurs with cold weather however many of my Raynaud’s attacks are usually provoked by cold or a sudden change in temperature.

The best tip I have for sudden temperatures is to always be prepared. For example, I find swimming, showers, baths, and going in and out of cold rooms often excruciating. Baths are my ultimate comfort so to manage to get out of a warm bath into a colder room, I leave the bath water in and make sure I have a very warm towel waiting when I come out. When I am fully dry, I then drain the bath water away.

Showers can be just awful and I’ve had so many awful attacks from a steamy, warm shower to freezing surroundings. Again, make sure a warm towel and a dressing gown are waiting for you and sit in this towel sat down try to get dry as soon as possible.

Swimming is something I love however this can also be challenging. My top tips are to wear clothes as well as a swimming costume, have a warm shower straight away and again a warm towel waiting for you. And make sure you are dry and in warm clothes as soon as possible. Make sure you wear gloves after you have been swimming and to have a warm drink and food afterwards such as soup. I found one of the main problems was the freezing cold, draughty changing rooms, which would turn the whole of me blue, and so bringing a warm dressing gown is vital!

My final top tip is for supermarkets and the variety of sudden temperatures that are there can always results in a Raynaud’s attack. Thus, it’s imperative to keep gloves on when shopping and be extra quick to grab those frozen and chilled items!

8. Avoid ice in drinks

I try to drink warm drinks and eat warm foods 80% of the time. So in summer, when drinks are usually served laden with ice, which is great for a refreshing cool down but not so good for your hands if you have Raynaud’s. To get around this, either ask for drinks to be served in glasses with handles or stems or invest in an insulated beverage holder. Best of all, avoid ice in drinks altogether as I find the chill it gives me can produce a Raynaud’s attack. 

9. Exercise regularly to boost blood flow.

I hate exercise with a passion but unfortunately, it can not be denied that regular exercise improves your blood flow, and keeping active on a cold day will help you to stay warm. I attend Pilates every week and I must say I find it really healing for many of my illnesses. Ultimately, exercise, within your own limits, can boost circulation and may improve Raynaud’s symptoms. 

Walking is by far the most popular low-impact exercise works and it works the cardiovascular system and burns calories at the same time. Swimming is another great option that works the whole body. However, swimming can also trigger a Raynaud’s attack for me, so it’s also important to check the temperature of the water before swimming as a cold pool could trigger an attack. For this, I’ve been recommended training swimming pools and ones frequented by children as they are often far warmer than other swimming pools. 

For other less impact exercise ideas try Yoga and Tai Chi as both can improve both your physical fitness and your general wellbeing through a series of postures and breathing exercises. 

10. Don’t smoke

Smoking damages your circulation and narrows blood vessels even further, so you should consider trying to quit if you have Raynaud’s disease. 

ways to manage raynaud's disease

And so there you have it: 10 of my top tips to manage Raynaud’s Disease. As discussed at the start of the post, February is Raynaud’s Awareness Month and so if you’re looking for more of my posts about Raynaud’s Disease you can find my handy wellness section that now has a dedicated section for Raynaud’s Disease. And my introduction to the work I’ll be doing to raise awareness for Raynaud’s Disease can be found here

Is anyone else a Raynaud’s sufferer? What top tips can you share to how you manage Raynaud’s Disease? Please feel free to leave any comments below if you have any questions about Raynaud’s whatsoever, or I’m a Tweet or Instagram message away if you ever need support with Raynaud’s Disease. Additionally, for more information please do stop by SRUK as well, the charity for Raynaud’s and Scleroderma. 

Coming next is my overall post for living with Raynaud’s and how I discovered it and what tests are done. Following that I have a further post exploring a variety of natural therapies that are said to help Raynaud’s. 

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2 Comments

  1. Jaffar

    Thank you for the blog post. I hope things are well for you

    Reply
    • Georgie xoxo

      Hi Jaffar, thank you so much for stopping by- I hope very much the same for you! xoxo

      Reply

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Hello - I'm Georgie!

I’m Georgie, founder of the enchanted living blog ‘Georgie xoxo’, ‘The Art Of Blogging’ and ‘Art Of Pinterest’ E-Courses and creator of an art and history online school called ‘Academy Of The Enchanted Arts.’  

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