We had the opportunity to test products from Infracare, a company based in Canada that specializes in supplying products to the medical community that are specifically designed for people with a common problem very familiar to Raynaud’s sufferers – cold hands and feet.
The company has spent time studying patients with Raynaud’s, diabetes, chilblains and peripheral vascular disease, and found that the surface temperature of their extremities can be documented at 10 degrees lower than that of healthy hands and feet (check out the video).
Infracare’s products are designed to address this issue head on with imbedded biomaterials that work to increase the temperature of users’ hands and feet by as much as 10 degrees in 30 minutes or more. Standard gloves and socks – even good ones made of merino wool, sheepskin or thermal insulation – are designed to keep the cold out, not to increase the skin temperature. Externally-heated gloves and socks do this with batteries and microwaveable inserts, but aren’t always convenient, comfortable or available.
My first impression of the products are that they are pretty thin for this purpose. Lightweight, stretchy and very comfy, but I couldn’t imagine that the gloves would be sufficient for winter weather in the Northeast. However, I was inspired to give them a test as a glove liner after two days of “wintery mix” weather when I had to clear snow and ice off my car while it was raining.
I hadn’t charged the batteries in my heated gloves, and didn’t feel like wearing my microwaveable mittens because they are not the best for steering on a day when you want a lot of control over the car on slick roads. So I decided to wear the Infracare gloves as liners inside my trusty UGG sheepskin gloves, and they were a fabulous match! The liners are so thin and smooth that they fit comfortably inside the UGGs. I still had room for plenty of movement (no feeling of constriction that I sometimes get when trying to add a liner).
When I opened my trunk to grab the snow brush, icy snow fell inside the car and I had to pick up some clumps with my hands to remove them – no problem, I felt no pain! I wore them clearing the car, and could see that my outer UGG glove was wet, but the liner kept my hands and fingers warm and dry, which was an outcome I hadn’t expected.
I continued wearing them to the gym and on errands throughout the morning, and they were terrific together. My hands were plenty warm, dry and comfortable, and I had all the dexterity I needed.
But my favorite way to use them is indoors. The gloves offer a lot of dexterity, so I was somewhat able to type with them on, but mainly was able to perform most everyday tasks, including taking the thin top off a cold yogurt container, which was pretty impressive.
There are days when my hands just won’t warm up, even after running hot water over them (I know you’re not supposed to use hot water, but on those days, it’s needed!). I often use fingerless gloves, and they do help, but the thicker ones can actually get in the way of tasks, and the thinner ones only help so much on extreme days. Other strategies include holding onto a portable heater, and that helps, too, but you can’t do anything else with your hand with this strategy. With the Infracare gloves, I was able to do most anything with full dexterity, and after keeping them on for a half hour or so, I did warm up.
One bonus extra – the gloves are touchscreen friendly, so if you need to use your phone in the cold, you can remove the outer glove and still be protected by the liner for touchscreen functions, and indoors still remain fully covered.
For the socks, I asked my mother, who lives in northern Florida but still has severe Raynaud’s attacks in her toes, to be our first tester, and her experience was quite positive. For a number of reasons, she can’t wear boots or thick socks in shoes, and has trouble finding socks that fit comfortably and keep her toes warm. These were an excellent fit. In addition, she found that during the three-day period that she wore the socks her toes were warmer, or at least, she didn’t have a Raynaud’s issue on those days, which is not the norm for her.
My results were a bit mixed: My toes were warm enough, but my upper foot was still cold on a couple of the days during my first test. So I waited a few days and tried again. Same thing: My toes were warm, but my upper foot was still a bit cold one or two days of the three-day test.
My normal winter wear is much more robust than my mother’s, and is much needed as I live in a colder climate. I’ll wear cashmere, wool or thick knit socks on a cold day inside warm boots with either fur or sheepskin lining. Plus, I often add a layer of Warm Skin cream if the temps are below freezing. Armed with this gear, I don’t often have a day with cold feet. So I was surprised that these socks – even inside a well-insulated boot – didn’t keep the top of my feet warm.
In reviewing these results with the Infracare team, I was told “Constriction at the calf was a major challenge so we had to make it a constriction free design. That is particularly helpful for diabetics whose blood circulation upwards or downwards is un-inhibited. That is the reason the calf area has a different kind of fabric finish that enables it to stretch further, and that feature deprives the socks of the one layer of Bio-material embedding, which may explain the issue.”
So our conclusion is for some sufferers, the socks will work well solo; for others, they should make a great liner paired with thicker socks. But for those who need a solution that keeps the toes warm, these socks did deliver!
Special Discount for Our Members:
Offer Code: 488915
Infracare’s products are not available in stores. Up until now, the only way to purchase their gloves, socks and other medical accessories has been through professionals, such as podiatrists, physiotherapists, diabetic and arthritis clinics and other physicians and medical specialists. But because the company is eager to reach the Raynaud’s community, they’ve opened up direct orders for our members and created an order form specifically for us!
Gloves come in Black (one-size) and sell for $19.99. Socks are available in Black, Beige and White, and come in four unisex sizes (S/M/L/XL) referenced by shoe size for $24.99. But as a Sponsor of the Raynaud’s Association, Infracare is offering our members a 15% discount on their products purchased from our order page. To qualify, simply enter the offer code 488915 during checkout.
We hope to hear more feedback from fellow Frosties who try Infracare’s line of products. Please let us know how they work for you!
4889 Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON M9A 1B2