Compression stockings and the challenges of summer

November 4, 2022

Medical compression stockings and garments are used to control swelling (oedema) in legs. Often, the conditions which lead to the use of medical compression garments also means that the person has a higher risk of infection in that limb (cellulitis).

Even though summer is the time of sun and holidays, those who need to wear medical compression garments have unique challenges as summer usually means:

• increased swelling of the affected limb

• having to wear a garment during long hot days

• being extra careful to protect skin from sunburn and insect bites

Here are some ideas that may be of help to those who wear medical compression stockings or garments and those who find summer a difficult time of increased limb swelling.

Always remember to consult your health care team before you change your routine.

How to manage swollen legs with compression stockings

Stay well hydrated

• Unless your swollen legs are due to a heart or kidney condition, limiting your water intake will not reduce the swelling.

• Limiting your water intake on a hot day might lead to dehydration and ill health.

Continue to wear your compression stockings and garments

• Put your garment on early and before your limb has a chance to swell

• Most compression garments can be made with open toes. Ask your care team if this is appropriate for you

• Lightly dust powder around your foot and heel to help slip the garment over a sweaty foot

• A pair of rubber gloves (make sure they have a good grip i.e. gardening gloves) will assist you in putting on your garments

• You may need to use an aid to get your garment on and off. Speak to your health care team to work out what is best for your needs

Elevate legs when sitting

• Sitting with your legs down and not moving can lead to increased swelling and other health conditions (pressure sores and/or DVT)

• Keep your legs elevated while sitting and remember to move your feet and legs regularly

• Get up and walk regularly

Stay home in the hottest part of the day

• The hottest part of the day is usually around 3pm.

• If you must go outside then go out in the morning

• Close the blinds and keep the doors shut to help keep the house cool

Homemade air conditioning

• The affected limb will feel cooler as they dry if they are sprayed with cool water

• Have a bowl of iced water or a wet cloth in front of a fan

Keep a pair of spare stockings in the fridge

• Swapping your garments with a cool pair kept in the fridge will give some temporary relief