Compression socks for Nurses: Tips and Questions Answered

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compression socks

I recently wrote about how compression socks can really help with the pain you might experience from being on your feet all day. They have certainly helped me over the years.

Today I thought I would elaborate a bit more on the best way to use them and to answer some tips and queries you might have.

Let’s take a look.

I thought compression socks can only be worn with a prescription?

This isn’t true. While high compression socks (mmHg level of 30 or higher) can only be purchased with medical advice and a prescription, there are many types of lower compression socks that can be bought online and in-store with no issue at all.

That being said, if you are experiencing a lot of pain in your legs or are detecting the onset of varicose veins, you should see your doctor anyway. They may suggest high mmHg compression socks as part of your treatment.

What is the best way to put on compression socks?

Putting on your compression sock can be done in various ways. The important issue is to ensure that the majority of the pressure and support is concentrated at your ankles. This pressure should decrease as the sock goes up your leg.

One way of putting on compression socks involves gently pulling the unrolled stocking over the foot until the fit is clean and tight over the foot and heel.

Then, the rest of the bunched stocking fabric is pulled and unrolled up the leg to the proper height, (which is the extent of the sock), smoothing the material as you go.

You also begin the process of putting the sock on with it folded inside out to the ankle level, (again, ensuring the stocking is tight and smooth around the foot and ankle before you pull it up the leg).

Should you choose, you could also use a small stocking donner. This helps you put the stocking on and is especially useful for sufferers of arthritis where grasping and pulling can be difficult.

Once the stocking is on, check all sides to ensure that the seams run vertically up the leg in straight lines.

There should be no wrinkles or bunching and you shouldn’t roll the tops over. (If you find the stockings too long up your leg, there are compression ankle socks available).

My legs dry out during the day when I wear compression socks, what should I do?

This can be an issue, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your socks are too tight or that you are wearing them too long, (although you should consider this and check either your prescription details or the guidance that came with your socks).

One way to alleviate dryness is to moisturize your legs at the end of the day.

You can also moisturize in the morning before putting on the socks. However, this should be done with enough time for your legs to dry before attempting to roll on the compression sock. Slippery feet and legs can make it difficult.

Can I wear normal socks above my compression socks?

If you can handle the increased warmth and it doesn’t affect the fitting of your footwear, it is perfectly okay to wear normal socks over your compression socks.

This can be done to hide the sock as well as protect them.

I have a small tear in my compression sock, do I need to replace them?

To enjoy the health benefits of compression socks they do need to be completely intact. A tear or a run of loose threading will diminish the compression attributes of the sock. This means you should replace them.

Compression socks should also be replaced over time they begin to wrinkle or bunch up during the day. Essentially, they are losing their compression ability and are becoming worn out.

I’ve stopped wearing compression socks and my legs have begun to swell

This can happen if you have been wearing compression socks for some time and then stop using them.

If your legs begin to swell, take steps to reduce the swelling. Laying down with your feet up can help. You could also try compression bandages while you sleep, (assuming you do not want to go back to wearing compression socks).

A cold water bath can also help, (don’t go crazy with this however, it should not be uncomfortably cold). Check here for a list of home remedy treatments for swollen legs.

If the swelling persists for more than a day or two, you should contact your healthcare provider for guidance.

I am experiencing skin irritation and redness after wearing compression socks

This is normally a sign that the socks do not fit correctly and/or you have picked up an infection while wearing them.

It is important that you keep a close eye on your feet, ankles, and legs when you wear compression socks, (check them at the end of the day basically), to see any signs of soreness and skin discoloration.

This is especially true when you begin using them for the first time.

If you do experience itchiness, soreness, and redness, you should contact your healthcare provider for guidance.

About Hannah Drake

Hannah Drake, RN, CSP is a registered nurse and owner and founder of Nurse Focus. Her nursing career spans almost two decades, and in that time she has developed her skill base across a variety of settings, including med surg nursing, clinical informatics system administration and implementation, and healthcare community management. Contact Hannah.

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