Everyone at AHVI is gleaming with excitement about the beautiful Alaska summer that is just around the corner! With sunny days come endless opportunities to get outdoors for regular exercise. Last week, the Circulation offered several ways to improve blood flow through low-impact outdoor activities that you can enjoy as temperatures start to rise, and sunlight extends into the evening hours. However, many people notice that along with these long, sunny days brings an increase in the visibility of unsightly varicose and spider veins. So, is there a link between sun exposure and venous insufficiencies? A doctor from the San Diego Vein Institute recently weighed in on the topic.
In short, the answer is no. While using sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays is important, the rays themselves are not a cause of varicose and spider veins. It is the heat that results from sun exposure that can play a direct role in venous insufficiencies. When our bodies are exposed to warmer weather, the veins in our lower extremities enlarge and often fill with more blood, which makes it easier for the blood to pool. As you know from our previous discussions on the Circulation blog, this pooling of blood can lead to venous insufficiencies.
Furthermore, when we are warm, blood is brought nearer to the skin to help cool down the body, and this makes veins look larger to the eye. Meaning that, if you already have symptoms of varicose or spider veins, heat can play a role in their visibility.
If you already have or are showing signs of varicose veins, it is best to avoid hot weather. Staying away from the heat is a general rule of thumb that should be used when considering at-home remedies for their painful side effects, too. Always opt for an ice pack if your legs are achy and swollen from varicose or spider veins rather than a heating pad.
It’s important to remember that genetics and lifestyle habits also play a significant role in your risk for varicose and spider veins. No matter what time of year it is, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our specialists if you are showing signs of venous insufficiencies. To learn more about varicose veins, visit our Vein Clinic, or make an appointment with one of our vascular specialists by calling 907-563-8346 (VEIN).