Varicose veins are a common problem that occurs when the valves that push blood upward through veins in the legs grow weak. These are the veins that look swollen and twisted. At first, they may only look like a small bulge on the skin. The bulging happens in the area where blood is pooling. In addition to being at least somewhat visible, varicose veins can also cause uncomfortable aching and cramping. If you are experiencing these symptoms now, it isn’t that summertime is the time when varicose veins develop, it’s that the heat of summer can exacerbate symptoms you may have been missing earlier in the year.
The symptoms of varicose veins often worsen during the summer because the hot spells that we experience cause blood vessels to expand. This is especially true if you’re at the beach or doing an activity that causes your body temperature or skin temperature to rise. Veins can also dilate if you sit in a sauna or a hot tub, or even take a hot bath. The expansion of the veins puts stress on all valves. However, those that are already weak and swollen can become stressed to the point of discomfort.
What You Can Do to Ease Summertime Vein Pain
Depending on how severe your varicose veins are, your ideal approach to improving comfort may be to contact our office and schedule vein treatment. Dr. Lee has various options that can close varicose veins for good. If you’re not quite ready to seek treatment for varicose veins, you might improve comfort with these strategies:
- Stay cool. You might want to spend more time indoors when possible. When going outdoors in the summer sun, plan activities like swimming or going to the beach where you can put your legs in cool water. If you’re planning a picnic or day at a park, consider placing an ice pack in a cooler to apply as needed.
- Wear flats instead of heels. Did you know that your calf muscles do more work when you wear flat shoes? And you want them to work because the contractions of your calf muscles help blood move upward out of distended veins.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause muscle stiffness and cramping. You can avoid dehydration by limiting alcohol consumption, especially on hot days, and by sipping water throughout the day.
- Wear compression socks. Compression socks place gentle pressure on the lower legs to help blood move upward. These can be helpful during long walks or sports like golf and running.
- At the end of the day when legs are tired and achy, sitting back with the feet up feels good. Elevation can be taken one step further by lying on your back with your feet up a wall. This 45-degree angle encourages blood to drain from the legs and flow to the heart.