Winter Weather and Your Vein Health

When the weather outside is frightful, you generally know the effect it has on your skin, as it’s you and your lotion in a race against cracked cuticles, snowy elbows, and blotchy legs. But did you realize that cold winter weather has an effect below your skin?

We all know how nice it is in Southern California when the thermometer dips below 60 degrees and we want to stay indoors with a cup of coffee, cocoa or tea instead of going out and doing our normal routines. It is far easier to stay inside than to dig out those extra layers, especially around the holidays, when traffic gets worse as more people are out to do last minute shopping or preparation for big dinners or New Year’s parties. But staying sedentary is one of the worst things you can do for your veins.

Winter is a tough time on varicose and spider veins because you aren’t getting your normal circulation—the temperature is colder, making you slower, and this makes everything inside of you slower as well. You always want good blood flow to your legs to prevent the unsightly and sometimes even unhealthy veins, which could trigger even more health problems down the road. And oftentimes, the lack of mobility during this time of year is coupled with increased consumption of rich foods or sweets, cookies and chocolates lurking on every desk top and in every party favor. Exercise and diet are the two biggest factors in helping to prevent varicose and spider veins (aside from genetic predisposition), so you can see how December through January can be a Winter Bummerland for your vein health.

The trick then is to be mindful about your diet and exercise habits. Even for the most active walkers or runners, there is the threat of El Niño approaching, which will make outdoor conditioning beyond inconvenient, and more than likely difficult. If you have home gym equipment, you’re probably at no risk of a modified routine (as long as you use the equipment regularly). But there are many exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home, from yoga and other stretches to basic calisthenics (never underestimate the power of the jumping jack). Squats and leg lifts are also constructive.

If you indulge in sweets one day or throughout a week, make sure you counter that not only with exercise but by drinking plenty of water and eating more healthful foods. Don’t forgo the fruit and veggies and lean proteins and yogurt because you’ve overindulged and don’t want the extra calories. You’ve already ingested empty calories—it’s still important that you get all your nutrients, including foods such as blueberries, beets, avocado, asparagus, and even ginger, which can actually help in preventing varicose veins. Also, be sure to include foods rich in fiber and in vitamin C (especially cherries, apples, apricots, and pineapple), watercress, rosemary, lentils, and buckwheat. Having fruits drenched in butterscotch or caramel, however, does not count as a well-balanced holiday diet.

In the meantime, even though you may be attending parties, limit time spent in high heels or tight-fitting clothing, don’t smoke, avoid standing for long periods of time, and if it doesn’t seem too miserable, shower your legs (or soak them) in cool water before bed. Then elevate your legs for at least fifteen minutes every evening to relieve pain and swelling.

However, even if you do all of this, you may only be able to reduce the signs of varicose and spider veins. If you want to be rid of the pesky veins and are ready for laser therapy or sclerotherapy, or you want to further discuss your vascular health with one of our experienced doctors, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 760-944-9263 or visit us at