Compression stockings are a popular treatment for tired legs and swollen calves. By supporting healthy circulation, these garments can boost your energy levels and reduce the risk of blood clots. They can benefit people who work standing up, distance runners and the elderly.
But compression stockings aren't for everyone, and studies show that using them incorrectly can be harmful.
This article will cover the basics you need to know about using compression socks and how to make sure wearing them doesn't do more harm than good.
What are compression socks?
Your circulatory system pumps fresh, oxygen-rich blood from your heart into your veins. Once the oxygen is distributed throughout your body, the blood is depleted and returned through another set of veins to be replenished.
Blood in the veins of the legs usually has to overcome gravity to return to the heart. As a result, the veins and arteries in the legs are more likely to become weak and inefficient. That's where compression socks and stockings come in.
Compression stockings put pressure on the ankles and calves. This gentle, constant squeeze on the bottom of your circulatory system helps support your veins as they carry blood back to your heart.
Compression stockings are recommended on a prescription basis for people with specific medical conditions and family histories. They are also popular over the counter for daytime stand-ups, frequent flyers and those over 65.
Is it dangerous to wear compression socks?
Generally speaking, compression socks are safe when worn correctly. This does not mean that they are safe for everyone under any circumstances. Some people should not use compression stockings, such as those with delicate or irritated skin. It is also important to fit compression socks correctly.
Here are some potential risks to be aware of:
can cut your loop
Compression stockings and stockings are designed to provide constant pressure that supports circulation. But when they're not installed properly, they can have the opposite effect and stop blood from circulating in your legs.
will bruise and bruise your legs
If you have dry skin or travel in a climate with dry air (such as on an airplane), your skin is more prone to chafing or chafing. People with compromised skin barriers may experience cuts, scrapes, and bruises from compression stockings. Note that this is much less likely to happen when compression stockings or stockings are fitted.
Can cause itching, redness and irritation
Compression stockings can increase skin irritation and can also cause itching. Skin redness and temporary dents may appear on the leg at the edge of the sock fabric when the compression stocking is not properly fitted.
Follow your doctor's advice
Manufacturers of compression stockings and stockings tend to report that their products are safe to wear all day and night. Your own needs will vary depending on your medical history and the reason for wearing compression stockings.
Talk to your doctor about how often you use compression stockings and how long you can safely wear them.
What is the safest way to use compression socks?
The safest way to use compression stockings is to follow your healthcare provider's directions.
Talk to your doctor if you've been wearing over-the-counter compression socks, or if you want to add compression socks to your routine. They can provide wearing advice and a prescription for medical-grade prescription socks if needed.
Keep in mind that most side effects of wearing compression stockings only happen if you don't wear them properly.
Best Practices for Compression Socks
Here are some best practices for wearing compression socks safely:
Let a professional fit your compression stockings properly.
If you gain or lose weight, please try again to make sure you are wearing the correct size.
Follow the socks or stocking manufacturer's and your healthcare provider's instructions.
Check your skin for changes, such as redness, dents, dryness, and chafing between wears.
Hand wash compression socks and hang them to dry to prevent the fabric from warping or changing.
Throw away compression socks after 30 wears or so, or when you notice they have lost their elasticity.
Take off your compression stockings every day and replace them with a clean, dry pair of socks so they don't stick to your skin and don't become difficult to take off.
when to see a doctor
Compression stockings can help treat and prevent deep vein thrombosis and blood clots. But that doesn't mean you should ignore the signs and symptoms of these conditions. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of the following:
- swollen, hard veins
- persistent tenderness or circulation disturbance in one or both legs
- Persistent cramping in one or both legs
- redness or warmth in an area of a vein
- Weak or irregular pulse
- blue or purple skin
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
If you've been wearing compression stockings for a long time and can't take them off, you may need to see your doctor for help.
Types of compression socks
There are three main types of compression stockings:
- non-medical support socks
- gradient compression socks
- Anti-embolic compression stockings
- non-medical support socks
When you hear the word "compression stockings," you most likely think of non-medical support stockings. These types of compression garments are available for anyone to buy over the counter or online.
You can choose the level of pressure these socks apply based on your comfort level. Non-medical support socks are widely available nationwide and come in a variety of lengths, fabrics, and patterns.
gradient compression socks
Gradient compression socks can only be purchased with a doctor's prescription. This type of clothing requires a professional try-on and you will be taught how to use them safely. Your provider should know why you use them, how long you should wear them, and other safety factors.
Anti-embolic compression socks
Antiembolic compression stockings are indicated for individuals at increased risk of pulmonary embolism. Often, people using this type of clothing have limited mobility.
Compression stockings are usually safe to wear if you follow your doctor's instructions and the manufacturer's instructions. Overusing compression stockings and wearing them incorrectly can damage your skin and create conditions that can start an infection.
You should not wear the same pair of compression stockings for several days at a time, and you should ask your doctor for the recommended length of time to treat your symptoms.
If you use compression stockings regularly, consider getting a prescription for medical-grade compression stockings. Stop using socks and tell your healthcare provider if side effects such as broken skin or bruising occur.