Summertime Swelling: Guide to dealing with hand and foot swelling
Do your fingers sometimes turn into little sausages overnight? Does this happen often? In fact, enlarged fingertips caused by swelling is a common problem, especially during the summer heat. However, in 90% of cases, there is no need to worry. Having swollen hands and feet can be an uncomfortable experience, especially when you try to bend or touch the affected limbs. Swelling in hands may happen because of excess fluid or inflammation in the particular area.
The symptoms of swelling: hands and fingers
According to the Mayo Clinic team, the most widespread reason for hand swelling is the same as it is for feet swelling – edema. This disorder refers to an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the cavities beneath the skin of the whole body. If edema is the cause of your finger swelling, you may have symptoms like:
- Visible swelling;
- Hard to bend or touch something with fingers;
- Pain in fingers;
- Extreme fatigue;
- Easy bruising;
- Swollen finger joints;
- Lumps along the fingers;
- Tingling or numbness;
- Limited motion of swollen fingers.
Common causes of swelling in fingers
In most cases, the causes behind swollen fingers tend to be harmless. However, rarely some cases of hand puffiness, accompanied with severe finger pain, can point to serious health problems. If your fingers swell at night and you can’t bend them in the morning more than once a week, consider consulting a health care specialist.
The experts from Mayo Clinic team name 8 common causes of swollen fingers:
- Physical injuries like a finger sprain, jammed fingers, closed fractures, etc;
- Extreme weather conditions – due to the summer heat, the vessels in hands may stretch causing fluid to leak into the soft tissues and make them swollen;
- Various infections caused, for example, by insect bites;
- Severe rash;
- Increased consumption of salt;
- Hormonal changes:
- Serious health problems – bursitis, cellulitis, different types of arthritis, and ganglion cysts, carpal tunnel, Lymphedema, Raynaud’s disease, preeclampsia.
Swollen finger remedies
The team of Mayo Clinic and WebMD have gathered the most popular medical options you can try for swollen finger remedies. They include:
Cold and heat hydrotherapy
To get quick relief for swollen hands, you may use a popular method of hydrotherapy – cold and warm compresses. Such contrast hydrotherapy may benefit significantly into the improved blood circulation and reduced inflammation. Here is how you can do it:
- Take 2 bowls – one with cold water and with warm water;
- Soak swollen hands in warm water for 4 minutes;
- Take out and immediately place them in cold water for 2 minutes;
- Keep on changing the bowls for 20 minutes;
- Repeat this procedure 4 times throughout the day, until you notice a visible change.
For people who frequently have swollen hands in the morning, doing special exercises can be very helpful. Exercises may enhance blood circulation, stress, strain, or fluid retention. Flexing swollen fingers in the following way may be useful:
- In the beginning, close the swollen hand into a fist (even if it seems hard) and try holding this position for 60 seconds;
- Slowly open the fist;
- Stretch out the fingers;
- Repeat the exercise a few times throughout the day.
Alternatively, you may use stress balls to squeeze your swollen hands.
Warm oil massage
If you have the swelling with mild-to-moderate pain in finger joints, consider doing a massage with warm essential oils. These oils may relax the sore muscles, drain out the excess fluid, reduce stiffness and blood circulation. In order to reduce finger joint pain, you can do the following thing:
- Slightly heat a bit of olive, mustard, or castor oil;
- Apply the warm oil on swollen fingers;
- Massage the affected fingers slowly for 5 minutes;
- Start a gentle massage from the fingertips and slowly move towards the base;
- Repeat the massage several times throughout the day.
Take Epsom salt baths
Epsom salts are rich in magnesium sulfate which may significantly reduce the muscles, relieve the stiffness and pain in sore joints.
- Take a large bowl of hot water and add to it 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt;
- Stir thoroughly;
- Soak the swollen fingers in this water for 15 minutes;
- Repeat the procedure 1-2 times throughout the day.
Taking over-the-counter (OTC) medicines
If the pain in swollen fingers is hard to tolerate, a doctor may recommend taking oral OTC drugs, mostly from the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds:
These drugs can significantly limit the swelling related to the finger joint pain and inflammation.
How can you quickly relieve swelling in fingers at home?
Many health care specialists recommend following the methods of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (REST) to treat swollen hands and feet. You need to let your fingers rest as much as possible. Also, consider elevating the affected fingers above the chest level to provide the blood circulation and clear the pain. You may even place a few pillows under the hands while sleeping or sitting.
Drinking many fluids like water and healthy drinks throughout the day is important to be hydrated and prevent water retention.
Tips for preventing swollen fingers
- Use elastic bandages or ace wraps around the wrist or palms with even pressure, if you are prone to swollen fingers and hands. Do not forget to remove these bandages before going to bed at night;
- Try eating less salty foods (no more than 1 teaspoon daily);
- Consider maintaining a moderate temperature in your home or office for improved blood circulation;
- Try reducing the exposure of the swollen fingers to hot or cold temperatures, because it may worsen the swelling;
- You may start eating more anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, omega-3 fatty acids, cayenne pepper, and garlic.
If your hand or fingers become swollen because of an injury, don’t hesitate to seek medical care. Urgent elevation is essential to prevent increased swelling. The warning signs of swollen fingers are chills, fever, rapidly increasing pain, tingling, and numbness.