Please give advice to help with my constantly cold feet
January 20, 2014 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Feet and hands constantly icy but it's my feet that really annoy me. I have read this thread and several others, which gave me some great ideas, but wanting to see if there is any additional ideas for me. Male, 6 foot, 160 lbs, mid 50s in age. No history of diabetes in family ever. Yes, I may have Raynauds, but not sure what to do about it other than try and find ways to keep my feet and hands warm.

I live in a desert environment but dread winters. Sit at a desk all day at work with painfully icy feet, but even at home where I can move a little more, feet are constantly frozen (and hands, but I want to focus on feet). At work, I have a little space heater blowing on my feet but they are still cold! Plus the heater makes the rest of me hot. Can't exactly wear down slippers at work or heavy ugly winter boots. I'm thinking I need some freakin HOT socks or something.

Does anyone have any advice on socks? (therapeutic is best--alpaca, merino wool, angora, mohair, anything else that is HOT) but not too thick as I have to wear normal shoes at work. I'm not big on the gel packs as that would get too expensive for every day use.

Any other advice on anything is appreciated.
posted by luvmywife to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Caveat-- I haven't tried the footwear. But Colombia's omni-heat thermal tops (little silver dots on the inside to reflect back heat) are the real deal--I'm constantly cold, and they're the most amazing thing I've ever tried....warm as wool but light weight. I can't say enough. So it would be worth trying a pair of the socks.
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:25 AM on January 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you have Raynauds, then you can get relief via medication. Mom takes pills during the winter, because her extremities turn blue (literally) in the cold. Ask your doctor.
posted by xingcat at 6:37 AM on January 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Ok, so I just called wigwam because I needed to find out whether they still made the socks I came to recommend. Unfortunately they no longer make them; however, I have ordered what they make in place for my recommendation.
Wigwam Ultimate Liner

For me, their earlier counterpart has been the most comfortable sock I have ever worn and the sock that I don't mind wearing all day. They are a liner sock, meaning that they are a tight fit; however they breathe like a champ and I've never felt foot sweaty. Their predecessor was the sock that was my go-to for the days I wanted sock comfort. (Predecessor was the Ultimax X-Static Silver Liner - discontinued).

I've worn these in backpacking in the White Mountains (both Summer and Winter), backpacking in Costa Rica, and hiking and kayaking in Arizona (though more for shore time in AZ). I had my twp pairs of socks for... I'll guess 10 years at this point, and only one of the pairs has sprouted a heel hole as of last week.

FYI: I ordered two of those pairs of socks, while I doubt I'll be lucky enough to have them last another 10 years, should these be as comfortable as my old socks, I will be replacing all my socks with them this time around.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:18 AM on January 20, 2014

I live in a cold climate and am constantly deal with cold hands and feet. Nthing the Columbia thermal tops for staying warm, although I only have the tops and bottoms and haven't tried the socks, I imagine they might be just as effective. Since I have started wearing Smartwool and Icebreaker merino wool socks with my slippers around the house (and at work) my feet are never cold. They're expensive but have lasted a long time.

For outdoor wear, I wear merino wool socks with Bogs boots. They're warm and waterproof and my usually cold feet have never been happier.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:35 AM on January 20, 2014

I posted in the other thread, but will repeat my suggestion because it is life changing for those of us with freezing feet.

Get this heated foot pad. Now!

I bought it with a plug-in dimmer, and can control the temperature that way. I often slip off my shoes so I can feel the warmth directly on my feet. This thing is awesome. When it dies, I plan on replacing it right away. It could die 2x a year and I'd still consider it a bargain. If you have cold feet, and sit or stand in a stationary place for an hour or more, get this pad and rejoice!

Smartwool socks are wonderful. When you have Reynauds, you could wear 10 socks at a time and your feet are still white, so I don't bother with a liner. My only calculation is "not cotton" and the Smartwools perform better than the other options.

I also bought a box of the charcoal insole warmers. They're not cheap, but if the difference between enjoying a winter walk is a $2 pair of insoles or being miserable and leaving early, I'm happy to pay the $2.
posted by barnone at 7:43 AM on January 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

An old housemate of mine had it, and cut out caffeine. She also often wore tights under her trousers - getting tights for someone 6ft tall will be a pain, and you might not feel comfortable wearing them as a man, but it seemed to really help her in the winter.

We have a cold flat with laminate flooring, and slippers with a furry lining make a huge difference - I have a pair of men's suede ones which are amazingly cozy. You can get fur insoles for shoes which could be cut down to fit office-friendly shoes.

Alternately, would your work be willing to relax the dress code given this is a medical issue?
posted by mippy at 7:57 AM on January 20, 2014

LL Bean makes shearling insoles - they're a bit bulky, but if they worked for you you could size up in dress shoes and have secretly warm feet.
posted by chocotaco at 8:05 AM on January 20, 2014

I have two heating pads, one at home which I put my feet on when they're cold (especially when I'm falling asleep) and one at work that I can rest my feet on while at my desk. It helps tremendously.

I'll also recommend getting socks that are a little bit big. If my toes have any pressure at all from my socks they're much more likely to get cold and numb.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:33 AM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wear Columbia's omni-heat boots almost exclusively in the winter, when not at work. They are amazing. For work, I use a usb powered foot warmer (from Amazon) that doesn't draw as much power as a space heater. You do have to take your shoes off to use it, so maybe not a good option if your office is very formal.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2014

Get more cardiovascular exercise to boost your circulation.
posted by brujita at 8:47 AM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you take any allergy medications, or anything containing Sudafed, on a regular basis, cut it out for a bit. My Reynaud's appears to have reduced its intensity when I stopped taking Claritin...
posted by suelac at 9:15 AM on January 20, 2014

My doc prescribed low dose aspirin for my Reynauds.

Otherwise, I wear trouser socks under regular socks and fingerless gloves when it gets really bad.
posted by kathrynm at 12:24 PM on January 20, 2014

Nthing layers. Tights are more important than socks, my core has to be scalding or I can't generate the flow to my limbs. I wear them under my jeans and also a shirt under my sweaters. Fingerless gloves and scarves are good.

I find managing exposure to sudden changes in temperature to be most effective (e.g. I never put my bare feet on tile, and if I have to grab something out of the freezer I'll blow-dry my hands.) Avoid caffeine, nicotine and other vasoconstrictors. Exercise daily to improve circulation! Even 20 min of aerobics or strength training makes a big difference all day. Stress management helps too.

There's some evidence that Raynaud's responds to cold acclimatization.
posted by fritillary at 12:44 PM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have it too. One thing that really helps for me which hasn't been mentioned yet is exercise. In cold (or even cool) weather, my hands and feet feel dully painful until I do something that makes my blood start pumping, and then I'm fine until next morning. So I try to run or play basketball or go for a brisk walk that builds up a sweat before heading into work each day. It's really noticeably worse on days I don't do that. YMMV, of course.
posted by overhauser at 1:26 PM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have intermittent Raynaud's in my hands and have been diagnosed with poor circulation in my feet so this is something I have had to deal with too. I also used to work in a gigantic freezer where the temperature was 15° in the main facility and -25° in the blast freezer.

This might sound like woo though my advice comes from people that have been working in a literal freezer for, in some cases, decades. I swear on my popsicle toes that this works; rub cayenne pepper on your toes. Wash your hands after applying the cayenne of course.
posted by vapidave at 10:03 PM on January 20, 2014

Response by poster: Dave--that cayenne pepper put my toes on FIRE! That's good and bad---Bad that the heat feeling made my toes feel scorched! I thought they might be blistering (they weren't--not even red in color). Good that I can use less cayenne next time and get less fire. Never heard of that trick before but it sure works for me! Anyone else trying this--I recommend you start with a very little cayenne shaken on inner socks--toe area. For me, it took about 3 hours to kick in and get some serious heat. If it doesn't seem to work for you then next day, shake more cayenne on the toes or inner socks until it works for you. Cool beans.
posted by luvmywife at 12:48 PM on January 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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