Important: Swollen Fingers Could Point to a More Serious Issue



We all know the feeling: You go to put on your rings in the morning, but you don't remember having to work this hard to get them on your hand; it's like your fingers grew two sizes overnight. There's something about the morning in particular that makes swollen fingers a common occurrence. We were curious—why do our fingers swell, and how can we prevent it? We reached out to Dawn Tottenham, MD, an emergency medicine physician in New York, to get her take on what swollen fingers could possibly indicate. Keep reading to get one medical professional's opinion on what could be the cause of those swollen digits, along with a few simple ways to reduce puffiness.


Up next, another crucial must-know about hands: how to apply glitter nail polish with the maximum glitter-to-polish ratio.

Have you noticed your jewelry getting tighter as temperatures are on the rise? Tottenham lists this as one of the most common reasons for swollen fingers. The reasoning is simple: Heat causes your blood vessels to expand. As blood vessels stretch, a minor amount of fluid will leak into the surrounding soft tissue, leading to noticeable swelling in areas like your fingers, hands, ankles, and feet. This is the same reason you may notice swollen hands and fingers after exercising.

Another common cause of swollen fingers that Dr. Tottenham lists is salt intake. Something as simple as eating a salty dinner the night before can lead to noticeable swelling the next morning. If minor swelling is a common occurrence, consider keeping a food diary to help track your salt intake. Of course, swollen fingers can also be a marker of a larger health concern. Tottenham writes, "Other causes can be more serious, such as infection, allergic reaction, or other inflammatory or vascular processes. Any finger swelling that lasts after removing the inciting factor or is associated with other symptoms should be evaluated by a health professional."


Treatment for swollen fingers can range depending on the cause. For anything you suspect may have a more serious underlying cause, seek a professional's opinion on the best treatment.

If you think your minor swelling could be due to salt intake, a simple trick is to monitor your hydration levels and drink plenty of water along with your meal. Tammy Olsen Utset, MD, MPH, a specialist in rheumatology, says in an interview with, "Your body likes to keep a consistent salt-to-water balance. Taking more salt in means your body compensates by retaining more water, which explains the swelling."

If you suspect it's the heat that may be causing your digits to swell, try icing your hand. By cooling down the area, you can help blood vessels return to their standard size, which should lessen fluid leakage. Compression gloves can similarly have a positive effect on reducing the size of swollen fingers.