To reduce Raynaud's symptoms, wear gloves or mittens outdoors when the weather is cool and indoors when you reach into the freezer. To maintain your body's core temperature when it's cool, dress in layers and wear a hat or scarf, thermal socks, and well-fitting boots or shoes that don't cut off your circulation.
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about the best ways to quit. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, making Raynaud's phenomenon worse. Smoking also worsens heartburn.
Regular exercise can help you maintain your flexibility and strength. Ask your doctor or physical or occupational therapist what activities are right for you.
Change eating habits
If you have difficulty swallowing, choose soft, moist foods and chew them well. To minimize acid reflux:
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Avoid spicy or fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol
- Don't exercise immediately before or after eating
- Elevate the head of your bed
- Sit upright for two or three hours after a meal
Protect your skin
Excess collagen destroys sweat and oil glands, leaving your skin stiff and dry. To help soften your skin:
- Avoid harsh soaps and detergents. Choose cleansing creams or gentle skin cleansers and bath or shower gels with added moisturizers. Use rubber gloves when doing the dishes or cleaning.
- Reduce bathing frequency. Bathe just once a day or every other day, and take brief baths and showers, using warm rather than hot water.
- Moisturize. Apply a rich oil-based moisturizer immediately after washing your hands or bathing, while your skin is still damp.
- Apply sunscreen. To prevent further damage to your skin, apply sunscreen before you go outside.
- Use a humidifier. Increase moisture levels in your home by using a humidifier.
Practice good oral hygiene
Be sure to have regular checkups and use any special rinses or toothpastes your dentist recommends. If your mouth is chronically dry, try drinking more water and sucking on ice chips or hard, sugarless candy. When these measures fail, your dentist may prescribe a medication to stimulate the flow of saliva.
April 30, 2014
- Imboden JB, et al. Current Rheumatology Diagnosis & Treatment. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=809. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Handout on health: Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Scleroderma/default.asp#3. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Van don Hoogen F, et al. 2013 classification criteria for systemic sclerosis: An American college of rheumatology/European league against rheumatism collaborative initiative. Annals of the Rheumatic Disease. 2013;72:1747.
- Denton CP. Overview of the treatment and prognosis of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
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