Treating spider-vein itch

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DEAR DR. GOTT: Can you suggest something to relieve the horrible itching around my ankles? It seems to be better in the morning, but by bedtime it’s so definite that I even have trouble sleeping. It’s more aggravated when exposed to heat, such as by my car heater.

I do have what my doctor terms “spider veins” in that area. Other than a recent bout with stage 1 breast cancer and 10 treatments of balloon radiation, I am an extremely healthy and active 67-year-old female. My current medications are Zoloft, thyroxine and Loperamine, and I take a super vitamin B, calcium and B-12, which my cancer surgeon added due to my proneness to infection.

DEAR READER: Varicose veins are a weakness in the walls of superficial veins. Many people with varicose veins also have spider veins (enlarged capillaries), which are similar but smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. Spider veins are common in the lower legs or ankles, may be caused by hormonal changes in the body or by the pressure from blood in the varicose veins, and are associated with an itch, especially following warming from socks or stockings. Because of your prone position when resting, the exertion placed on your veins is reduced, and side effects are lowered or eliminated temporarily. I do not think your medications are to blame, nor was the balloon-radiation therapy.

Elastic stockings compress veins, thereby reducing the stretching and ensuing pain. Beyond that, alternative remedies include one part horse-chestnut seed combined with 10 parts distilled witch hazel applied externally as needed or daily use of oral horse chestnut, grape-seed extract, bilberry extract, butcher’s broom extract or hawthorn extract. I cannot endorse any of these remedies because I haven’t had experience with them and only have reports from readers stating they work within three months of initiation. Be sure to speak with your physician before beginning these or any other course(s) of treatment.

To provide related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports “Compelling Home Remedies” and “More Compelling Home Remedies.” Other readers who would like copies should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 for each report to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092, or download an order blank from my Web site, Be sure to mention the title(s).

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