Wondering how to wear and care for your compression. stockings? If you are worried about your vein health or have been instructed to take care of your veins, compression stockings are a great and easy-to-use tool. While compression stockings are an easy way to improve your vascular health, it is important to know the correct way they should be worn for maximum effectiveness. Knowing how to take care of them will protect your investment, as well.
WHAT ARE COMPRESSION STOCKINGS?
Compression stockings are garments that tightly squeeze the skin for medical purposes and may be worn for a variety of reasons. For instance, they may be recommended by a doctor after certain kinds of surgery. They may also be recommended by physicians for people who are non-ambulatory for a time. For those who suffer from conditions like varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, a doctor may also recommend the wearing of compression stockings or hosiery. There are many types of compression stockings. Some can be purchased over-the-counter, and others must be prescribed by a vascular doctor. Compression stockings come in different sizes and lengths and must be fitted correctly in order to be effective.
ALL STOCKINGS ARE NOT EQUAL
Compression stockings are not like regular long socks, compression stockings use graduated pressure applied at the ankle that steadily increases up to the knee. The pressure squeezes varicose veins and helps push blood toward the heart. It also reduces stress on varicose veins, helping varicose vein symptoms such as aching, heaviness, and vein pain in your legs.
Support hose may also help to prevent varicose veins in the first place by compressing varicose veins and helping varicose vein valves function properly.
WHEN TO GET PRESCRIPTION COMPRESSION STOCKINGS
Compression stockings are often prescribed by doctors to improve circulation and prevent the formation of blood clots. They are commonly used by people who have a history of venous thromboembolism (VTE), or blood clots in the veins. People who are at risk for developing VTE include those who have had recent surgery, are pregnant, have a family history of blood clots, or are immobile for long periods of time.
There are a few key reasons why prescription compression stockings are different than over-the-counter compression stockings.
- First and foremost, prescription compression stockings are typically stronger and provide a higher level of compression than over-the-counter versions.
- Second, prescription compression stockings are made to fit the individual’s leg measurements, while over-the-counter versions usually come in ‘one size fits most.’
- Finally, prescription compression stockings must be prescribed by a doctor, while over-the-counter versions can be purchased at most pharmacies or online.
You can purchase vascular health wear at pharmacies, medical supply stores, and online.
Compression stockings are generally graded by the amount of compression they provide.
- 8-15 mmHg stockings are the lowest grade, typically available over the counter. These may come in knee-high, thigh-high, pantyhose, or maternity pantyhose styles.
- 20-30 mmHg stockings are the first medical-grade compression stockings. It is the most widely used, providing ample compression without being too strong. These are generally recommended for the treatment of varicose veins, spider veins, leg swelling, and after surgery.
- 30-40 mmHg stockings are stockings that are recommended for more serious symptoms. They are also commonly recommended for those with deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, and lymphedema.
- 40-50 mmHg stockings offer the strongest grade of compression. This level of compression is usually reserved for those with severe venous stasis and lymphedema.
Once your doctor has recommended compression stockings, you’ll generally have a wide variety of styles to choose from to fit your lifestyle. Always wear your compression stockings as the doctor recommends if they are prescribed to you.
WHEN TO WEAR COMPRESSION STOCKINGS
As a general rule, compression stockings should be worn when you are up and about for the day.
For people with more mild symptoms, such as varicose veins or edema, it is usually recommended to wear compression stockings during activities that put a strain on the legs, such as standing or walking for long periods of time.
For people with more severe symptoms, such as venous insufficiency or venous ulcers, it is often recommended to wear compression stockings all day, every day.
It may also be recommended that you wear them prior to long flights or trips in a car where you will be sedentary for a long period.
Compression hose may even be used during an activity such as lounging or even while you sleep. This can give your leg veins an added boost when taking the pressure off of them.
However, it is important to speak with your doctor before starting to wear compression stockings to ensure that you are wearing them correctly and not at risk for any complications.
HOW TO USE AND WEAR COMPRESSION
To wear compression stockings, start by putting them on before you get out of bed in the morning. Many doctors will recommend that you put on your compression stockings when you first wake up before swelling has had a chance to occur.
Before putting on your compression stockings, you will want to lay them out so that they are smooth and to prevent wrinkles. When pulling them on, make sure to avoid bunching. Do not roll them down because this may put too much compression in one area. Your doctor will let you know how long you need to wear them, but doctors generally recommend removing them before sleeping. Of course, you’ll also want to remove them while bathing.
HOW TO PUT ON COMPRESSION STOCKINGS
Compression stockings can be difficult to put on, especially if you have a hard time reaching your feet or if your legs are swollen. Here are a few tips to make putting on compression stockings easier:
- Sit down or lie down when putting on your compression stockings. This will help take the pressure off of your leg veins and make it easier to reach your feet.
- Put on your compression stockings before you put on anything else, such as your pants or shoes.
- If you are having difficulty reaching your feet, try using a stocking donner or putting on compression stockings while someone else helps you.
- Gently roll the top of the stocking down up the leg until it is all the way on. Do not pull or tug on the stocking too hard, as it may damage the fabric.
- Once the compression stocking is on, smooth out any wrinkles and make sure that it is not too tight or too loose. The stocking should feel snug but comfortable and not bunched in any one area.
CARING FOR COMPRESSION STOCKINGS
It is important to care for your compression stockings properly to ensure that they last and continue to provide the level of compression that you need. When you purchase your compression stockings, they will probably come with a guide on how to wash and care for them. It is best if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the care of your stockings. Many compression stockings are fine tossed into the washing machine, but some need to be hand washed.
Here are a few tips for caring for compression stockings:
- Wash your compression stockings every day. This will help prevent bacteria from building up and causing skin irritation.
- Hand washing is recommended if you are unsure if your stockings are washing machine safe.
- Use a mild soap or detergent and cool water to wash your stockings. Avoid using hot water, as this can damage the fabric.
- Hand washing is simple. You’ll want to place the stockings into a bucket, tub, or sink filled with water at the recommended temperature that already has soap or detergent added. If your stockings need to be soaked, allow them to soak for a time. You will then want to rub the stockings together gently to clean them. Once you have cleaned them, rinse them thoroughly.
- Gently squeeze the excess water out of your stockings and then lay them flat to dry. Do not wring them out, as this can damage the fabric.
- After cleaning, you may hang them to allow them to air dry. Again, check the manufacturer’s recommendations for drying them using a dryer.
Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins
Used properly, compression stockings are an important part of controlling the symptoms of vein diseases like varicose veins. They squeeze the vessels so that blood can flow easier up your legs and prevent the pooling of blood that causes vein issues.
It’s important to wear the correct size of compression hose, so they give you the right amount of pressure. If your stocking is too tight, it can cause varicose veins or worsen varicose veins symptoms such as itching and burning. Your leg should feel firm but not tight – a bit like a firm handshake. Too loose, and it won’t work as well.
Will They Cure Varicose Veins?
Compression stockings are not a cure for varicose veins, but they can help to control the symptoms and may help to prevent the condition from getting worse. If you have a family history of varicose veins or other vascular health problems, wearing compression stockings as a preventative measure is recommended.
If you have varicose veins, your doctor may recommend that you wear compression stockings all day long or just when you’re on your feet for long periods. You may need to wear them for several months to give your veins a rest.
If you have to stand all day at work or if your job involves a lot of sitting, compression stockings can help prevent varicose veins from developing or getting worse.
Contact The Vein Centre to Get Fitted For Compression Stockings
The Vein Centre has years of experience dealing with all types of vein problems and can help you choose the right type and size of compression stocking for your needs. We will also show you how to put them on and take them off, and how to care for them so they last longer. Schedule an appointment today.