Doctors recommend wearing compression stockings for a variety of medical problems. Compression stockings compress your legs, increasing circulation up and out of the legs and feet.
If your doctor has recommended that you begin wearing compression stockings, it’s important that you understand how to put them on and care for them properly. Here are some important Do's and Don’ts to remember when wearing compression stockings.
DO carefully measure your legs before you buy compression stockings. Premium compression stockings by CEP, Juzo, Mediven and Sigvaris are carefully sized. If you buy the wrong size, you will not get the medical benefits of wearing compression socks and they won’t be as comfortable on your legs. Learn how to measure your legs for compression stockings before you buy. Getting the right size is very important for the comfort and effectiveness of your compression stockings.
DO care for your compression stockings everyday. As most doctors recommend wearing compression socks every day for maximum benefit, you will need to wash them every day, as well. This is important not only for your own hygiene, but also for the life of your stockings. As you wear your stockings throughout the day, they stretch to fit your legs. Washing helps return them to their original shape, extending their usability over time.
DO wash your compression stockings properly. Check the care instructions for each pair of compression stockings you own; some are washable in your machine’s gentle setting. If so, place your stockings in a mesh laundry bag to help protect them. To wash your compression stockings use cold water and a bit of gentle soap. If you can, use a specially formulated washing solution for your compression socks – this will clean the elastic without causing damage. To dry, roll up your socks in a towel and pat out all the excess water, then hang them up.
DO use donning gloves to put on your compression stockings. Donning gloves dramatically reduce the chance that you will snag your stockings on a fingernail. In addition to offering protection, donning gloves provide grip and make it much easier to put on your compression hosiery.
DO put compression stockings on first thing in the morning. The conditions that compression stockings help to alleviate are generally related to one’s everyday activities, so it makes sense to wear them all day if you want to see the most medical benefits. Also, your legs and feet are general y less swollen in the morning. So putting on your compression stockings in the morning are a bit easier than if you did it later in the day.
DO replace every 3-6 months. Eventually, the elastic fibers will break down. This is normal, especially with daily use. You will probably need to replace your compression stockings every three to six months. How can you tell when it’s time for a new pair? One indication is that your compression stockings start to sag, or they are becoming really easy to put on.
DON’T roll up your compression stockings to put them on or take them off. Rolling creates a tight band, which cuts off circulation and can cause sores. While donning or removing your compression socks try not to roll or scrunch them up.
DON’T wear them at night. Unless your doctor specifically prescribes it, it’s best to avoid wearing compression stockings at night. When you are lying down, your legs are already in a neutral position that allows regular blood flow. Adding graduated compression in this position increases circulation, but once again is unnecessary. Try elevating your legs on a couple of pillows instead. By having your legs above your heart level, you are facilitating regular blood flow.
DON’T use chlorine bleach to clean your stockings. Avoid using any substance that could damage your compression socks. Harsh chemicals like chlorine bleach should be avoided.
DON’T wring out compression socks to dry them. Any intense movements, such as wringing or scrubbing, can damage your stockings. Treat them gently to get the most out of them. To get the excess water out of your compression stockings, just ball them up and squeeze gently.
DON’T alter your compression stockings. Refrain from cutting off any part of your compression stockings. The foot of compression hosiery acts as an anchor; it provides a solid hold, making it easier to put on the stockings. Furthermore, compression stockings have graduated compression, meaning the compression is strongest at the ankle and gets lighter as it goes up the calf. Cutting off the foot could cause them to roll up and become uncomfortable to wear. If your stockings seem too tight around the toes, you may want to consider a product such as open toe compression stockings.
DON’T wear lotions or oils. Oily substances can break down the elastic fibers. Try moisturizing your legs in the evening, after you’ve removed your compression stockings for the day.