According to a number of studies, about 25 percent of all women and 10 percent of men are affected by varicose veins. Varicose veins are dilated and 'puffed up' veins that are usually in the legs that can be painful and have an unpleasant appearance. But don't stop reading here, because there are a number of at-home remedies for treating varicose veins that could help you, or someone you know with the condition, avoid expensive and painful surgical procedures.
Varicose veins are usually genetic, so if someone in your family has had them, there is a greater chance that you will too. They are caused when the valves in the veins that push blood throughout your circulatory system weaken and become 'flappy', causing fluid to accumulate in the veins. The common signs for the development of varicose veins are tenderness around the area of an enlarged vein, swelling of the legs, a tightening or itching sensation in the legs and a feeling of heaviness in the legs.
Although varicose veins are usually benign, meaning that they do not put your health at risk, their puffed up appearance is startling or discomforting for some, and therefore many doctors recommend cosmetic surgery to remove them. Yet these surgeries can be expensive and keep you off your feet, so it's best to try out some of these simple and completely natural remedies first.
1. Keep Your Feet Up
Just like on any long flight or an extended period sitting down, the blood rushes to your legs and causes them to feel heavy. The feeling with varicose veins is similar, and those that have the condition may experience swelling if they spend the day seated or on their feet. To remedy this uncomfortable feeling, it is best to recline with your legs elevated for anywhere up to an hour. This allows the blood to flow away from the legs and ankles and back towards the heart to decrease swelling and the feeling of heaviness.
2. Ice Your Veins
Applying ice or a cold pack to your varicose veins can help minimize their appearance and reduce the swelling around the vein. This is because the application of cold restricts the blood flow to the area of application, making the appearance of the swollen veins less apparent. It is also recommended to take a cold or lukewarm bath every so often to keep your blood flow healthy and your veins and vessels working hard.
Regularly performing cardiovascular exercise, either running, walking at a fast pace, biking or swimming, keeps your blood flowing as it should and prevents the pooling of liquids in your veins. It is recommended to perform at least 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day (with approval from your doctor), and not just to stay fit. It has been shown that regular exercise can reduce the severity and appearance of varicose veins.
4. Flex Your Feet
Even if you aren't able to get in a full cardiovascular workout, doing a few leg raises or ankle circles will help keep your varicose veins in check. When you contract the muscles in your feet, the blood is forced upward out of your legs and towards the heart. By pointing and flexing your feet a few times, circling your ankles, or doing heel slips where you slide your heels back and forth can keep your circulation in check and blood out of your varicose veins.
5. Try A Compression Stocking
There are special compression socks and stockings that can be purchased at most pharmacies that will help improve circulation in your legs. As explained above, when pressure is applied to the lower legs, the blood is pushed up towards the heart and won't pool in your veins. You can get weaker compression stockings, 20mm Hg, or stronger ones at 60 mm Hg (the stronger versions usually require a prescription from a doctor). They come in a variety of colors and shapes for different parts of the leg and are usually comfortable enough (in the weak and mild versions) for everyday use.
If you or someone you know has varicose veins, you should consult your doctor to determine if you have a higher chance to experience clotting. These natural remedies will help mediate many of the effects of varicose veins, but there is no guarantee that they will completely disappear. There is no harm in trying!