Why do varicose veins feel worse in the heat?

Why do varicose veins feel worse in the heat?

If you suffer from varicose veins, you may find summer a difficult time. Whilst some varicose veins are just unsightly and may deter the individual from wearing shorts, skirts or even swimwear in the summer months, others find that the heat can make existing varicose veins feel all the more uncomfortable or painful. Mr Eddie Chaloner, Consultant Vascular Surgeon investigates.

“Hot weather makes veins swell more and this makes the symptoms of discomfort a lot worse. Wearing shorts or skirts as the weather warms up makes the veins more visible. For these reasons we tend to see more patients coming to clinic as winter turns to spring.”

Who is most likely to suffer from varicose veins?

Varicose veins are common amongst adults (both men and women). Some studies show that upwards of one in three individuals suffer from moderate to severe vein problems as they age. Defined as enlarged sections of a vein, varicose veins are caused by the valves not working properly. Usually found in the legs or feet just below the surface layer of the skin, they can cause unsightly and, in some cases, uncomfortable bulges.

Although a family history of vein issues can play a part, pregnancy and being overweight can also be contributing factors in developing weakened veins. For those in active or physical jobs, prolonged periods of standing can also be a factor, even if an individual is otherwise healthy.

Hot weather vs. varicose veins

Hot weather makes all veins dilate, especially on the surface of the skin, as we try to lose heat and maintain a constant body temperature. It is part of the normal response to heat, just like sweating, and does not necessarily mean that the veins are abnormal.

Summer heat alone won’t cause them, but if you already have varicose veins, then they can feel much worse in hot weather. As the body tries to cool off, they can bulge and swell even more than normal, which is what causes the additional aching, throbbing and swelling around the ankles.

Non-medical treatments for varicose veins

If you struggle with varicose veins, you may already know that there isn't much you can do except lie down, sit with your feet up or use compression stockings to relieve the discomfort. Many people struggle with compression stockings at the best of times and we often hear complaints that they are even more uncomfortable in hot weather. Staying hydrated and as cool as you can may offer some relief too, but all these tips will only offer short term relief. Seeking out medical treatment is one of the only ways to resolve the issue in the long term.

Treatments for varicose veins at Benenden Hospital

Benenden Hospital offers minimally invasive Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) for varicose veins and spider veins and is one of the largest centres in the UK for laser varicose vein treatment. If you’ve tried using compression stockings, been exercising regularly and elevated your legs while you rest but your veins are still causing you pain or discomfort, our experienced consultants can help.

For more information on our varicose vein treatments, complete our online enquiry form or call our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.

Published on 16 February 2022