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How to manage varicose veins in summer

As the famous song goes, ‘summertime and the livin’ is easy’. This may not be the case if you have varicose veins though. The warmer weather can exacerbate some of your symptoms, resulting in a more uncomfortable period where you suffer from unwelcome aches and pains. You may not have realised why there’s more discomfort during summer or when you go on holiday to sunny places, so read on to find out why that is and what you can do to help it. Tips from our Medical Director, Dr Mark Bratby.

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Is heat good for varicose veins?

In general, heat isn’t good for varicose veins. We’re often asked, ‘does heat help varicose veins?’, and the answer’s usually a resounding ‘no’. This is because warmer temperatures cause your veins to dilate more. Your body may be doing its best to keep you cool, but the larger your veins get, the harder it is for the tiny valves inside them to control the flow of blood back to your heart. This leads to more accumulation of blood inside your veins, more swelling, bigger bulges and greater discomfort. 

The timing of this is particularly bad if you look forward to making the most of the longer days. Summer’s great for being active and outdoors, while most of us like to shed the layers to keep cool. It can be a bit of a dent in your confidence levels if you have bulging, unsightly veins to think of when donning a skirt, pair of shorts, flip flops or sandals, but all is certainly not lost. It’s possible to manage and deal with your varicose veins to an extent, and you’ll find nine of the best ways to do this below. 

1. Stay cool

The obvious antidote to being too warm is to cool yourself down. Staying out of the sun on the hottest days and seeking shade where possible will mean your veins don’t need to expand quite as much as when your body’s exposed to the highest temperatures. As well as keeping your whole body cool, it’s also a good idea to pay particular attention to your legs and feet to try and stop them aching as much as possible. 

If you’re on holiday then get yourself in the pool or go for regular paddles in the sea, and stick to cool spaces where possible, whether you’re at home or abroad. It’s also worth noting that if you have varicose veins, heating pads are best avoided. There’s only one winner when considering whether to use heat or ice for varicose veins.


2. Eat the right things

We can all be tempted to indulge at any time of the year, but particularly when we go on holiday. Putting on weight isn’t good for varicose veins and their symptoms, so try to moderate what you eat and keep your diet as healthy as possible. Summer’s a great time for enjoying fresh fruits and salads, while smoothies can be just as tasty as milkshakes once you know how to make them.



3. Keep hydrated

Drinking plenty of water will help to keep you cool. Staying hydrated also helps to prevent dry skin and lips, while also stopping urine from becoming overly concentrated. Although uncommon, dehydration may lead to problems such as lumpy tender areas in existing varicose veins, known as phlebitis.


4. Exercise

Staying active is key to keeping the weight off, while regular exercise also has other benefits for your veins. Getting your heart pumping encourages better blood flow and will help your circulatory system to clear some of the blood that accumulates in your varicose veins. This will help with those achy feelings. Being inactive could lead to dangerous blood clots, with plenty of swimming highly recommended if you’re on holiday. Running and weightlifting can sometimes put extra pressure on your varicose veins and exacerbate symptoms of aching, heaviness or cramps.



5. Put your feet up

In addition to having a good workout, it’s also important to put your feet up when you can. Elevating your legs when you’re sitting or lying down will give your veins a helping hand getting your blood back to your heart, while it’s also beneficial to avoid standing up for prolonged periods.


6. Use sun cream

When you have sunburn, the temperature of your skin rises. This causes your veins to dilate, which as we know, is bad news if you have varicose veins. Sunburn also damages your skin and has an impact on the tiny blood vessels under the surface of your skin, potentially leading to thread veins. It’s really quick and easy to use sun cream, which has lots of other health benefits beyond looking after your veins.


7. Dress wisely

Wearing appropriate clothes can also help you avoid sunburn, while keeping you cool at the same time. As tight clothes are bad for your circulation, stick to loose, light things that will allow your skin to breathe. This includes your hat, which also will also provide you with shade, and your footwear. Sandals and flat shoes are far more preferable to boots and heels. If you’re self-conscious and want to know how to hide varicose veins in the summer, loose-fitting, flowing clothes are the way to go.




8. Wear compression stockings

One item of clothing that can be especially beneficial are compression stockings. It’s perhaps not ideal or even feasible to wear them all the time during the summer, but try to pop some on whenever you can to help the circulation in your legs.


9. Treat your varicose veins

Despite the added discomfort during summer, it’s possible to live with varicose veins. However, your symptoms are only likely to worsen over time. They could also develop into more serious problems, including leg ulcers and skin damage. As such, you may want to consider getting a varicose vein treatment. There are a number of different options available to you, so get in touch with us today to start your journey towards happy, healthy legs. 

It only takes a minute to fill out our contact form, while you can also give us a ring or request a call back and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. 


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