Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

You can take steps to help yourself feel better if you've been diagnosed with polycythemia vera. Try to:

  • Exercise. Moderate exercise, such as walking, can improve your blood flow, which decreases your risk of blood clots. Leg and ankle stretches and exercises also can improve your blood circulation.
  • Avoid tobacco. Using tobacco can cause your blood vessels to narrow, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke due to blood clots.
  • Be good to your skin. To reduce itching, bathe in cool water, use a gentle cleanser and pat your skin dry. Adding starch, such as cornstarch, to your bath might help. Avoid hot tubs, heated whirlpools, and hot showers or baths.

    Try not to scratch, as it can damage your skin and increase the risk of infection. Use lotion to keep your skin moist.

  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Poor blood flow increases your risk of injury from hot and cold temperatures. In cold weather, always wear warm clothing, particularly on your hands and feet. In hot weather, protect yourself from the sun and drink plenty of liquids.
  • Watch for sores. Poor circulation can make it difficult for sores to heal, particularly on your hands and feet. Inspect your feet regularly and tell your doctor about any sores.
Feb. 08, 2017
References
  1. Tefferi A. Diagnostic approach to the patient with polycythemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 16, 2016.
  2. Polycythemia vera. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/poly/. Accessed Nov. 16, 2016.
  3. Tefferi A. Prognosis and treatment of polycythemia vera. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 16, 2016.
  4. Polycythemia vera facts. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. https://www.lls.org/llssearch?search-terms=polycythemia+vera&search_language=en. Accessed Nov. 16, 2016.
  5. Mesa RA, et al. Effect of ruxolitinib therapy on myelofibrosis-related symptoms and other patient-reported outcomes in COMFORT-I: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2013;31:1285.
  6. Brian JC, et al. Overcoming treatment challenges in myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera: The role of ruxolitinib. Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology. 2016;77:1125.
  7. Geyer H, et al. Symptomatic profiles of patients with polycythemia vera: Implications of inadequately controlled disease. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2016;34:151.
  8. Polycythemia vera. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/myeloproliferative-disorders/polycythemia-vera. Accessed Nov. 16, 2016.