Health – winter hands

While I’ve not got the most glamourous hands – my fingers are quite short with quite prominent knuckles – I’ve probably never given them too much thought before. Before this winter, that is.

Maybe it’s been a long hard winter (it has), or maybe I’m getting older (I am), but my hands have demanded a lot more attention than ever before.

The problems I’ve experienced this winter include cold, dry, painful and stiff hands. I’ll outline these below including some things I’ve done to try and relieve them.

 

Cold

My circulation isn’t great at the best of times. Unless I’m exercising or having a warm moment, my hands are often cold to the touch. My husband and kids are very familiar with this and avoid my icy touch. A lot of the time this isn’t too much of a problem. I rub them together. I wear gloves. I sometimes sit on my hands in meetings. These all somewhat relieve the cold.

I sometimes intentionally move around, as I also feel notably colder on the days I’ve not exercised.

Oddly, the time my hands feel most cold is when I get home from work in the evening, after a short drive. Even with gloves on, I often have no blood left in several of my fingers – they’ve turned white and numb. It takes around 20 mins of being in my warmish house for this to pass.

I’ve googled this (of course) and I believe this is Raynaud’s disease. Unrelated to other conditions, this doesn’t appear to be too life threating, nor is there much to be done to treat it.

Tips

  • Wrap up warm. Always have gloves available. I have different gloves for different occasions – walking, running, driving – but I generally always have my favourite suede gloves with me and use these for all of the above.
  • Exercise regularly – or move around as a minimum. Make an effort to go up or down stairs.
  • Drink warm drinks – for warming the core, as well as my extremities
  • There was a lovely article this week on holding hands that my husband forwarded to me.

One word of warning – careful not to go too warm (see below).

 

Painful

Another big challenge I’ve encountered this year is pain. I’ve suffered with several flare-ups of chillblains.

At first, I had no idea what they were. My hands were swollen (joints and fingers) and had some painful red blotches on them.  Assuming this would quickly pass, I took some ibuprofen to reduce the pain and swelling.

A couple of weeks on, my hands were still flaring up periodically. I eventually googled it and identified what it was. I got some Balmosa cream from the pharmacy which offered some relief. They ultimately cleared up in time, but have reoccurred several times, often triggered by cold and damp conditions.

I’m not a regular sufferer, but I remember having had them once before on my hands and feet.

Tips

  • Keep hands warm but careful they don’t get too hot
  • Cotton gloves inside and even in bed
  • Get some special cream and apply as and when to relieve the symptoms

 

Dry

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spend most of the winter moisturising my hands. Mine are just generally dry, making them dull (and old looking). I also find my skin seems thinner when it’s dry and is more prone to little nicks and cuts. I know some people experience really dry skin, which can crack, becoming sore and potentially infected.

There are many different hand creams around. I tend to use a lighter one during the day and a thicker, greasier one at night when I don’t have to be touching anything.

Tips

  • Have multiple hand creams / other moisturisers and position these strategically. I have one in my bedroom, one at my work desk, one in my home office, one in my handbag and one in my gym bag. And I still don’t always have one when I need it!
  • Cotton gloves – these are great for sticking on temporarily after applying hand cream or even sleeping in if you get cold hands at night.

 

Stiff

Early some mornings my hands and fingers feel like they’re not functioning properly. They don’t have their normal dexterity and I’m a little clumsy. I think this is partly related to the weather but maybe also due to rheumatism or even Rheumatoid arthritis.

Tips

  • Moving and stretching my hands & fingers to wake them up – sometimes using a stress ball
  • Massaging or rubbing or my hands together (with or without hand cream)
  • Consider taking some supplements for bones and joints e.g. glucosamine, cod liver oil etc.

 

Wrap-up

I normally conclude my posts with a ‘wrap-up’ section. Talking about winter hands, especially with the cold weather we have been experiencing, this ‘wrap-up’ seems more appropriate than ever.

My top tips for winter hands are to wear gloves whenever possible to keep them insulated and protected, moisturise frequently and to keep as active as possible to keep the blood flowing, including some hand specific exercises.

Let’s all cross our fingers that Spring is just around the corner!

 

Thank you for reading. For more interesting articles, visit my blog at www.agelifebalance.com to learn more.