Have you noticed varicose veins starting to pop up? These swollen, enlarged veins usually appear on the legs and develop for a number of reasons. They can cause pain, itching and aches, and form when blood pressure increases inside your veins. Although there are medical treatments for this condition, there are a number of home remedies that can reduce the appearance and pain of varicose veins. If you want to avoid costly, invasive procedures, we’re letting you in on how to get rid of varicose veins with 9 home treatments that work!
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen and twisted veins that are dark purple or blue in colour. They’re bulging in appearance, typically appearing raised, and may cause pain or discomfort. They usually occur in the legs, but can also form in other parts of the body. Varicose veins are very common, and you’re at higher risk to develop them if you’re older, you’re female, you’re obese, or have a family history of varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins appear when veins aren’t functioning properly. They’re usually caused by weak vein walls or valves. Veins have one-way valves that let blood through and close before it can come back the other way. When veins become stretched and lose their elasticity, they weaken, and if the valves don’t function properly the blood flows backwards and collects in your veins, making them swollen and enlarged. Your risk for varicose veins can heighten for the following reasons:
- You’re pregnant
- You’re female
- Age over 50
- Standing for long periods of time
- Family history of varicose veins
- High blood pressure
- Conditions such as a previous blood clot, a swelling or tumour in the pelvis, or abnormal blood vessels
When Should I Worry About Varicose Veins?
You should give your doctor a call if you notice the following symptoms occur with your varicose veins.
- Severe and continuous pain and swelling in the legs
- Heavy, dull or aching feeling in the legs at the end of the day
- The veins are red and feel warm and tender to the touch
- The veins are prone to bleeding
- The skin surrounding the veins is dry, itchy, discoloured or inflamed
- Open sores in the skin
How to Prevent Varicose Veins
1. Regular Exercise
Exercise should be a part of your regular routine to keep your body as healthy as possible. It encourages better blood circulation in the legs, which helps push along blood that has collected in the veins. Exercise also helps to lower your blood pressure, which can be a cause of varicose veins. Make sure to do low-impact exercises that help get the calf muscles working, such as walking, yoga, cycling and swimming.
2. Avoid Long Periods of Sitting
Sitting in the same position for a long period of time makes it more difficult for your blood to travel in the leg veins against gravity. If you have to sit for a long period of time during the day for work, make it a habit to get up and move around consistently throughout the day. Also make sure to change positions frequently to keep the blood flowing smoothly. Sitting crossed legged can further restrict blood flow to the legs and feet, so avoid this as much as possible.
3. Wear Loose Clothing
Wearing tight fitting clothing can restrict blood flow, compromising your circulation. Try to wear loose, non-restrictive clothing as much as possible so you don’t restrict the blood supply to the lower body. Avoid clothing like skinny jeans, shapewear and tight belts and socks. Wearing flat shoes instead of high heels can also help prevent varicose veins in the legs.
4. Elevate Your Feet
When it’s possible, place your feet on a chair or stool while you’re sitting so the blood can flow back toward your heart. This will help improve circulation, reducing the pressure in the leg veins. If you’re going to be sitting down for a long time, during work or rest, aim to keep your legs elevated as much as possible.
How to Get Rid of Varicose Veins
1. Lifestyle Changes
Obesity can increase your risk for varicose veins. Practicing healthy lifestyle choices such as exercising and eating a healthy diet can prevent more damage to your veins. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you need to make a point of getting up to move around. Going for walks in the morning or at lunch is a great place to start.
2. Compression Stockings
You can find compression stockings online or at most pharmacies. They apply pressure to the legs, helping the muscles and veins move blood toward the heart. They can help keep your vein valves in the right position, making it easier for your veins to function properly, and reducing blood pooling, swelling and pain. Talk to your doctor when choosing a compression option, as they vary depending on how damaged your veins are.
3. Dietary Changes
Salty, sodium-rich foods cause the body to retain water, so cutting down on these foods is key to minimizing water retention. Potassium-rich foods can also help to reduce water retention. These include bananas, almonds, pistachios, lentils, white beans, potatoes, leafy vegetables, salmon and tuna. Eating foods with fibre is also helpful as it keeps the bowels moving and prevents constipation. Increase your intake of foods including nuts, seeds, legumes, oat, wheat, flaxseeds, and whole grain foods.
4. Eat More Flavonoids
Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that can help shrink varicose veins. They improve blood circulation, making it less likely to pool in the veins. They also help reduce blood pressure in the arteries and can relax blood vessels, which all helps reduce varicose veins. Foods that contain flavonoids include onions, spinach, broccoli, citrus fruits, blueberries, strawberries, cocoa and garlic.
5. Try Grape Seed Extract
There is also a herbal remedy you can try to get rid of varicose veins. Grape seed extract has been found to reduce swelling in the lower legs and help treat symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. It contains vitamin E, flavonoids and other compounds and can be found in tablets, capsules or liquid extracts. Do not take grape seed extract if you are on blood thinning medication as it can interact with blood thinners and increase the risk of bleeding.
Whether you want to prevent or get rid of varicose veins, we hope we offered some helpful tips for you to try.