You need to let go of your fear and anxiety of being judged by others .”Wilson kanadi (aka wilzkanadi)
Brrr, November has been so cold already, I recently decided to experiment with glove layering to protect my hands from a Raynaud’s attack and it led me to a discovery that helped me out with a year-long problem of Raynaud’s episodes while shopping in supermarkets. Looks a little silly, but food prep gloves are my latest hack for Raynaud’s…
The vast majority of folks with scleroderma also suffer from Raynaud’s Phenomenon, where blood flow to extremities is restricted due to blood vessel spasms triggered by cold and stress. This will cause things like fingers, toes, and even noses and ears to change colour, become numb and even painful. Unfortunately, those with scleroderma, a relatively rare disease, are not the only ones who suffer from Raynaud’s! If you follow this blog you may recall a recent post “5 Things You Need to Know About Raynaud’s Disease” in which we discussed that somewhere between 3 to 5% of the world’s population suffers from Raynaud’s either as a primary disease or a secondary symptom of other autoimmune diseases.
As you can imagine in late fall, numerous Raynaud’s sufferers are expressing their pain and fear for the winter on social media. Here in the Toronto area (southern Ontario, Canada) we have been experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures for November. As a result, I have also been experiencing more Raynaud’s episodes and moved from my favourite gloves (see Head Running Glove Review) to fuzzy mittens. Unfortunately, even my warm mittens are not warm enough right now.
Even those who do not suffer from Raynaud’s often find grocery stores very chilly. For me, even in the summer, food shopping is always a trigger as supermarkets seem to be freezing all year long. For this reason, I was dreading my weekly grocery shop. I decided that even though we aren’t really in winter yet, I would go to my layering strategy. I experimented last winter by layering vinyl or nitrile gloves under fuzzy warm mittens, as pictured above, and found it to be quite effective.
I typically use these vinyl gloves for food prep as they protect the skin from water and somewhat from cold food items that both trigger Raynaud’s episodes and damage delicate skin from scleroderma. I bought this large, one-size-fits-all package recently only to discover that they did not fit well enough to prepare food but decided to keep them for winter and for other tasks that did not require great dexterity.
From previous experience, I know that the layering works well to keep my hands warm when I go out in the winter. After my shopping excursion last week, I picked up a couple of my kids from the gym and got hit with the questions… Why are you wearing those gloves?!? They asked with a tone of disbelief as I realized I was driving around wearing my food prep gloves. I suppose they thought I lost my mind!
What actually happened was that when I got to the grocery store, the mittens (as you can imagine) just got in the way. I couldn’t stand the thought of shopping with unprotected hands and thus determined, as ridiculous as it looked, I would just wear the thin food prep gloves. To my delight, they worked great! Not only did the humid air in the gloves keep my hands warm the entire time, the grippy-ness of the gloves helped me when picking things up, even opening those pesky plastic produce bags! For the first time, I did not have a Raynaud’s attack at this particular store… Even though I always wear gloves there, they have never been enough to prevent the spasms, pain and colour change associated with Raynaud’s.
You don’t have to tell me how ridiculous I must have looked to other shoppers. When I was a teenager I had a job at a tiny corner store in my neighbourhood and there was a local woman who shopped there, a germophobe we suspected, who wouldn’t touch anything with her bare hands. I wondered if I was being judged as hard as so many had judged her back in those days? I was self-conscious at first, but eventually forgot all about it.
As a person taking immune suppressing medications to keep my scleroderma in check I suppose I have become a bit of a germophobe myself too! When you think about it, the gloves would be protective of germs from the shopping cart and other dirt and bacteria that could infect the little sores that develop on my fingers.
At a certain point relief (from not having a painful Raynaud’s episode) replaced embarrassment, and I realized that my pride should never supersede health concerns. Frequently wearing gloves indoors to prevent Raynaud’s episodes over the past couple of years has been a little embarrassing too. The changes that scleroderma has made to my body, particularly my face and hands have forced me to be far less prideful anyway, what is one more thing? Let’s face it folks, there will always be some people who judge us – but the important thing is to take care of ourselves and keep on living life as normally as possible in the face of chronic illness or disability.
Pride should never supersede health concerns.”Sick with optimism
Something that I have found key is to put the vinyl gloves on while hands are still warm. It seems that if I wait until my hands are cold it is hard to generate enough heat to make a big difference. The good news is, these thin gloves still permit me enough dexterity to button close my jacket, grab my keys and turn a smooth door handle – Can’t do that with fuzzy mittens! Here are a few more pros and cons that I have been thinking about:
Pro’s and Cons of Using Medical or Food Prep Gloves:
- Kept my hands warmer than gloves alone
- I was able to grip objects sufficiently when shopping and driving
- Provided a protective moisture barrier so that hands did not get wet when selecting fresh produce, refrigerated or frozen items
- Protected from exposure to dirt, germs and bacteria, particularly when there are openings on the skin due to sores
- Takes some getting used to, not as comfortable or free to move as bare hands and humidity build-up can be a little disturbing
- Single-use, disposable gloves: From an environmental perspective we are creating more waste, as long as the gloves are clean and dry we could mitigate this impact by reusing gloves that are still clean and dry
- Humidity inside the glove could provide an incubator for bacteria to grow; I would throw away immediately after use if used over dirty hands, open sores, or if a lot of moisture built up during use.
- On-going cost of use; could mitigate cost by purchasing gloves in bulk
Bottom line, the vinyl glove hack was successful, for me! The gloves alone were not warm enough when I went outside in the blustery November wind (and by this time snow flurries) but were sufficient again once inside the car. Of course, not everyone is the same, so before you run out and purchase a bulk pack of vinyl, latex or nitrile gloves, I would try this out a couple of times first; maybe you have a pair around the house or could ask your doc if she/he would give you a pair to try.
What are Your Thoughts on Layering with Vinyl Gloves
I would love your feedback on this little Raynaud’s hack! Have you tried this layering strategy before? Have you used medical or food prep gloves to keep your hands warm? Can you add any Pros or Cons that you can think of using disposable medical or food prep gloves for shopping?