First thing in the morning, my rings slide on easily. Come night time, they can barely be pried off my swollen, sausage-like fingers. Of course, this is because they heat up during the day, and with this happening more and more frequently given the warmer months, I thought I'd ask why do my fingers swell in the heat — and how to beat it.
The first thing to note is heat-related swelling affects women more than men, according to the NHS. Excellent news for us. Urgh. It happens, the NHS says, because in hot weather, our bodies send more blood to the skin. The blood vessels expand, in an attempt to let the body cool down by allowing heat to escape through the skin's surface. As the vessels do so, some of their fluid flows into the tissue, which is what causes the appearance of swelling, Tammy Olsen Utset MD, MPH explains to Prevention.
Basically, it's our genius bodies at work, doing its very best to cool us down, and the condition should go away on it's own, when you find yourself in a colder environment. It's generally not serious, so first of all, don't worry. Most remedies offered up for swollen fingers are for when there's a more serious underlying condition. But if you want to try to speed the de-swelling process up, either for aesthetic reasons or because it's uncomfortable, there are a few things you can do.
The Mayo Clinic suggests stretching out your fingers and then balling them into fists, and repeating this motion a few times. This suggestion is specifically for when you'e exercising in the heat, but the same theory applies when your hands swell up all on their own in the heat.
That said, you should also try to stay active. It may not be what you want to do when it's sunny (prosecco and snacks all day, anyone?) but it will keep blood flowing and circulating around the body, which will help the swelling come down.
You can also try and elevate the hands, reports LiveStrong, rather than have them dangling by your sides. Again, this will help circulation and blood flow, and keeping hands elevated at night, maybe on a pillow, could generally help with this, the site says.
Byrdie suggests icing your hands: this will help the blood vessels shrink back down, and in so doing, they will stop leaking fluid into the fingers.
DIY Remedies recommends varied solutions such as massaging your fingers and dunking them in cold water, similar to the suggestion in the Byrdie article. These may help, but ultimately, so long as it's not debilitating, and you're eating well, and aren't injured, in all honesty this isn't something I would bother doing. If you disagree, DIY Remedies also suggests putting a teabag on your fingers and dunking them in water mixed with epsom salts, which admittedly are known to generally help with inflammation.
Ultimately, if it's getting uncomfortable, the best cure is prevention: stay inside! And remember to stay hydrated, as puffy fingers are a sure sign your body is reacting to temperature conditions. The NHS notes that general heat swelling in feet and hands (medical name: oedema) shouldn't be treated with diuretics, as these can dehydrate the body. If it doesn't go down on it's own when you're somewhere cooler, the swelling may be caused by other things, such as imbalanced sodium levels, and you should seek help. But in summer, swollen fingers is an unfortunate, but pretty normal, side effect of enjoying sunny days. Got to take the bad with the good, I guess.