Spring 2023 RA Q&A Recently we introduced a new column called RA Q&A where we share our responses to inquiries about Raynaud’s, symptoms, products, treatments, and more.  Here is our Spring 2023 RA Q&A column.  Hope the information in our RA Q&A articles is proving helpful to fellow Frosties! 

I have been diagnosed with Raynaud’s and I even get little sores on my fingertips.  I work in the frozen food section of a grocery store.  I always wore gloves, but they do little to help.  Would putting hand warmers in my gloves work, or is there anything else I can do to protect my fingers while I work in the freezers? 

Thanks for your inquiry.  A few responses to your question:  First, not to lecture, but hope you know that working in a frozen foods section is to be avoided for someone with Raynaud’s.  Raynaud’s tends to be a conditioned response.  So, the more attacks you have, the more likely you are to have more frequent attacks and they can get progressively more severe. Repeated exposure to the cold and stress can aggravate the condition, increasing the frequency and severity of attacks over time.

By the same token, if you can decrease the onset of attacks, you are less likely to trigger future ones, and while they won’t necessarily go away, they can become less frequent and less intense.  That’s why it’s important to dress properly, avoid exposure and stress when possible, and make whatever lifestyle changes you can that may help reduce the onset of attacks.

You’re already developing digital ulcers (sores on your fingertips).  That’s a sign that your fingers are potentially becoming dangerously affected by your repeated exposure to freezing temps.  It’s important that these ulcers heal properly and not become infected, as they can result in permanent damage to your blood vessels, so please consult a medical professional about treating these ulcers before they become a more serous issue.

OK, enough with the lecture, sorry! As for using hand warmers like Hot Hands inside your gloves, yes, that’s a good option.  But you’ll need to also add glove liners because disposable hand warmers are not supposed to be used directly next to the skin (see the warnings on the package).

So you might want to consider the following options for liners:  Infracare makes good ones.  The brand was created for people with medical issues involving cold digits.  FibreHeat also makes liners.  Their gloves use a special technology designed to be self-regulating in retaining heat.  Sweater Chalet offers some incredibly warm gloves that can be combined for a liner/glove combo – including their Öjbro Wool Gloves and Mittens, along with their Dachstein Woolwear and PossumDown gloves (you’ll read how I used them together in our product review).

If you’re interested in some heated options, the heated gloves liners from Gobi, Volt and Gerbing are excellent brands to explore.  Our review on Volt is for their slippers, but all of their products are well made, and you can use our member discount on any purchase from their site.  Many of these brands and others are also sold at The Warming Store

We’d also suggest a product called Warm Skin, but it’s currently out of stock in most places – one ingredient has been hard for the manufacturer to locate, but we’re told it will be returning to shelves shortly.  The product doesn’t do what it sounds like; it won’t immediately warm your skin, but will provide a protective barrier from the cold.  It’s used by Arctic explorers, NFL players and Postal workers, which are pretty good credentials.  It won’t necessarily keep you from feeling the cold, but it will make it more manageable.  It’s important to use the cream while your skin is still warm indoors before exposing it to cold temperatures outdoors.  Watch our site for when the cream is available again.  Hope the above information (and suggested advice) is helpful.

I have primary Raynaud’s and I am contacting you in regards to if repetitive hand actions like trying to practice learning the Ukulele will make my primary Raynaud’s more severe over time?   The inquiry goes on to quote several sources on the Internet (including our website) stating how repetitive pressure to the fingertips (typing, playing the piano, using vibrating tools, such as jackhammers and drills, or similar movements repeatedly over long periods) may lead to secondary Raynaud’s. 

Thanks for your inquiry.  Please understand that we’re not a medical professionals, but will do our best to address your question.

Repetitive pressure on the fingertips can cause and aggravate Raynaud’s (called Vibration White Finger).  So continuing to play can potentially increase symptoms over time, much in the same way repeated exposure to cold and stress can make a patient’s Raynaud’s attacks potentially more frequent and/or severe over time.

You seem to have done considerable research and are now armed with the facts.  If playing the Ukulele is truly important enough to you that you want to continue with it, I’d suggest consulting with your doctor about treatment options that may work to alleviate some of the symptoms.  There are topical and oral drugs (calcium channel blockers) that are clinically proven to help Raynaud’s sufferers.   Hope the above information is helpful.

Please send me some information about medicine to help Raynaud’s. I have taken blood thinners in the past and had doppler blood flow tests pre and post taking medicines. That was forty years ago. Are doctors still recommending that?

We believe our article Treatment Options for Raynaud’s Phenomenon has the information you’re looking for.  If by “blood thinners” you’re referring to calcium channel blocker drugs, the answer is yes.  They don’t thin the blood, they help increase the blood vessels so that the blood flows more freely.  Blood thinners are drugs given to patients to help prevent the possibility of blood clots and strokes. Hope this information is helpful!

Is it safe to swim in a pool with chlorine if you have Raynaud’s? 

Thanks for your inquiry, it’s a question we’ve not been asked before.  Exposure to toxins can cause or aggravate Raynaud’s, so I searched for an association with chlorine and found this information:

Exposure to chlorine can cause Raynaud’s phenomenon. Chlorine is a chemical found in many bleach products. It can also be found in pool water and some tap water. When chlorine comes into contact with the skin, it can cause irritation and trigger a Raynaud’s attack. People with Raynaud’s are advised to avoid chlorine exposure by using gloves and protective clothing when handling bleach products and avoiding swimming in chlorinated pools.

If you’re just an occasional swimmer, it’s likely that the issue for triggering your Raynaud’s is more related to the change in temperature from the cool water to the warmer outside conditions.  It’s important to be prepared to wrap up warmly