Swollen Hands After Hiking: Causes And Remedies

It’s a beautiful day for a hike, and you’re excited to get out on the trails. But as you start your hike, you notice that your hands are starting to swell up. What could be causing this? And more importantly, what can you do to remedy the swelling? In this article, we’ll explore the causes of swollen hands after hiking and recommend ways to reduce or prevent the swelling.

Can Your Hands Get Swollen from Hiking?

Just like any other physical activity, hiking can cause your hands to swell. This is because your heart rate and blood flow increase when you hike, which can cause fluid to build up in your hands. Additionally, carrying a heavy backpack or using hiking poles can put extra strain on your hands and wrists, which can also lead to swelling.

So if it happens to you – don’t fear. Hand swelling is actually a pretty common occurrence during exercise.

What Are the Symptoms of Swollen Hands After Hiking?

If your hands are swollen after hiking, you may notice that they feel tight, itchy, or painful. The skin around your hands may also look red or inflamed. In extreme cases, your fingers may start to feel numb or tingly. If you experience any of these symptoms, taking a break from hiking is important and giving your hands a chance to recover.

Are There Other Reasons Your Hands Might Swell?

So what if you didn’t work that hard, but your hands still started to swell? There are several other reasons why your hands might swell after hiking.

One possibility is that you’re allergic to something on the trail, such as poison ivy or pollen. If you develop a rash or notice that your hands are itchy or inflamed, this could be a sign of an allergic reaction. If you think you might be allergic to something on the trail, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

Another possibility is that you have an underlying medical condition that causes your hands to swell. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disease can all cause hand swelling. If you have a medical condition that causes hand swelling, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best way to manage it.

Finally, taking certain medications, such as blood pressure or steroids, can also cause your hands to swell. If you think your medication might be causing your hand swelling, it’s important to talk to your doctor about changing your dosage or switching to a different medication.

How Do I Stop My Hands from Swelling when Hiking?

So there isn’t a proven method (yet) to reduce most exercise-related swelling; however, there are some things you can do to help to ease any discomfort or pain.

First, try to take breaks often and give your hands a chance to rest. Additionally, try to avoid carrying heavy objects or using hiking poles. Any extra strain on your hand can cause the swelling to worsen.

If possible, try to keep your hands cool by putting them in a stream or using a cold compress.

If you think you may have come into contact with something that you’re allergic to, it’s important to wash your hands and any affected areas of your skin with soap and water as soon as possible. You may also want to apply a calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to help relieve any itchiness or pain.

Lastly, you can perform arm circle exercises along with finger stretches to loosen up your muscles and help reduce any pain or discomfort.

Do Fingers Swell in High Altitude?

It’s not just your hands that can swell when hiking – your fingers can swell too. This is because, at high altitudes, the air pressure is lower, and there is less oxygen in the air. This can cause fluid to build up in your fingers and cause them to swell. Additionally, if you’re exercising or doing any physical activity at high altitudes, this can also lead to finger swelling.

If you’re planning on hiking at high altitudes, taking precautions is important to prevent finger swelling. First, try to ascent slowly to give your body time to adjust to the change in altitude. Additionally, make sure to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. You may also want to wear gloves or mittens to help keep your fingers warm.

If you start to experience finger swelling, it’s important to take a break and rest. Additionally, you can try putting your hands in cold water or using a cold compress to help reduce the swelling. If the swelling is severe, it’s important to descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible.

Additional Tips To Prevent Hand & Finger Swelling While Hiking

Now that we’ve covered the most important parts, I wanted to share a few extra tips that can help to prevent hand and finger swelling while hiking.

  • Compression Gloves: Wearing compression gloves while hiking can help to prevent hand swelling.
  • Elevate Your Hands: Whenever possible, elevate your hands above your heart to help reduce the swelling.
  • Remove Any Restrictive Jewelry: Remove any rings, bracelets, or watches that could restrict blood flow and cause swelling.
  • Stay Cool & Hydrated: Try to keep your hands cool by putting them in a stream or using a cold compress. Additionally, make sure to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated while hiking.
  • Watch Your Sodium Levels: Eating foods high in sodium can cause your body to retain water and lead to hand swelling. However, if you end up drinking a ton of water on your hike without supplementing it with salt, this can also lead to low sodium levels (hyponatremia), which can be just as dangerous. So, it’s important to find a balance and make sure you’re not consuming too much or too little sodium.
  • Loosen Up Your Backpack: If your backpack is too tight, it can restrict blood flow and cause hand swelling. Make sure your backpack is loose enough that it doesn’t cut off circulation but tight enough that it doesn’t bounce around while you’re hiking.


In conclusion, it’s important to be aware that hand and finger swelling can occur while hiking, especially at high altitudes.

It’s not something you need to be overly worried about, but it’s still a good idea to take some precautions to prevent it. Because who wants sausage fingers while hiking? No one.

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