Dec. 08, 2017

Sharing the Journey: Avoiding Raynaud’s During the Winter

The Sharing the Journey series is by you and for you. In your own words, we highlight the perspectives and personal experiences of people who struggle with lupus each day.

This month, we asked Sharing the Journey participants the following question:

What tips do you have for avoiding the symptoms of Raynaud's during the winter?

Raynaud's can be a painful and sometimes embarrassing symptom of lupus that tends to pop up at the most unexpected and unfortunate times. Typically, during the winter months, I carry a pair of gloves and extra socks around with me in my purse or backpack (even if it's not supposed to be extremely cold).  That way, if I start to feel uncomfortable, I always have protection nearby to stop the symptoms in their tracks. If I am in a professional environment where wearing gloves would be inappropriate, I try to subtly sit on my hands to at least give them a little bit of warmth. Overall, prevention is the best way of coping with Raynaud's for me. The quicker I can recognize and treat the symptoms, the less severe they will be.Becca M.

My Raynaud's has gotten very bad. I think a good tip, which may seem obvious, is to layer yourself, including your core. This means not just layering your hands and arms, but layering so that you are keeping your overall body temperature up, and not just your extremities. I also wear gloves in the car, as simply holding onto a cold steering wheel, even after my car warms up aggravates my Raynaud's symptoms. – Leslie R.

I actually touched on my approach with Raynaud’s in last month’s Sharing the Journey post, but I would again reinforce my love for HotHands! They even have sole warmers for your shoes! This is great since I can never feel my toes. In addition to HotHands, I have a love for bath bombs which allow me to soak in hot water, and gain feeling back to both my hands and feet. Sitting in a bathtub just to feel your extremities is so boring, but bath bombs make it more exciting. I’ve also been a fuzzy sock lover my whole life, and sometimes wear more than one pair at a time. You’ve got to do what you got to do! – Kayla B.

Sometimes there is just no avoiding Raynaud’s, especially if you live somewhere cold. I try and avoid extremely cold temperatures, and always carry a set of gloves with me or in my car. Wool socks are great as well. However, even while doing these simple things, I still suffer from numb and cold hands during the winter. It’s just part of having lupus. – Roxi W.

When I was diagnosed with Raynaud's I was introduced to biofeedback (a mind-body technique using electronic instruments to help you gain awareness and control over your body and mind). I then used a temperature sensorthat I could hold with fingers to read the temperature of my fingers and gradually warm them by sending my breath to my hands, which was my own way of following up on the biofeedback training and thus ceased the Raynaud's from then on. I also certainly bundle up appropriately. I use heated up rice bags/flax bags as well both at night and also when sitting around reading. I use a wonderful form of breath work which is inhaling sensation of love from my heart and sending that sensation to my hands. What that does is it sends a flow of blood to the hands, basically increasing the circulation which is what you need with Raynaud's.Betsy S.


Coping with Raynaud’s

About one-third of people with lupus are affected by Raynaud's Disease--a contraction of the blood vessels that can make your hands or feet feel numb or tingly and change color in cold weather. Raynaud's can be an annoyance--and a health risk--during the winter months, but fortunately there are things you can do to avoid the symptoms. Try these tips for keeping your Raynaud's in check this winter:

  1. Wear mittens instead of gloves--mittens will keep your fingers warmer.
  2. Wear a hat when you go outside to help your whole body retain heat.
  3. Soak your hands or feet in warm water the moment you notice symptoms.

Check out more cold-weather clues for coping with Raynaud's.