Compression socks are a great way to relieve varicose vein symptoms and boost your circulation, especially when you’re static for long periods. But can you wear compression stockings for 24 hours a day? Read on to find out.
What compression socks do
Compression socks, stockings, and pantyhose support the function of your veins. They primarily assist your deep veins to work more efficiently and minimise inflammation. They also activate your leg muscles, which are crucial to moving blood up. Your veins themselves only have small valves to stop backward blood flow.
You can wear them at night, but it’s not necessary
Due to their function, compression stockings are good to wear during the day, when your veins need to work against the pull of gravity. At night, however, your feet are at heart level, so the veins don’t need that extra support. Instead, you can prop your feet up on a pillow to assist with circulation.
There could be some side effects to wearing compression stockings 24/7
Wearing compression socks or stockings for 24 hours a day isn’t strictly dangerous. That is, as long as the material is good quality and the sizing is right for you. If the material was treated with harsh chemicals or isn’t breathable, it can cause skin irritation. And if the stockings are too tight, they could impede circulation instead of assisting it.
But even great quality stockings can have some side effects if worn non-stop. Especially if you have sensitive skin, the accumulation of oils and sweat combined with friction can still lead to skin irritation. It might become red, itchy, and flaky if you don’t give it a break.
Additionally, the edges of knee-high and thigh-high stockings (even if properly sized and fitted) can cause pressure sores over time. This is especially common with knee-high socks, as the movement of the leg can make the edges curl and bunch up.
What to do if you’re struggling to take them on and off
Compression garments need to be quite tight to have an effect. And although they have some elasticity, they can be a pain to pull on and off every day. Conditions like hand arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease can make matters worse.
Fortunately, some tools can help. First, you can try a pair of donning gloves. These have a textured underside and material covering the nails to help you slip the stockings on easier and without risking the fabric. Second, you can try a donning aid to pull the stocking up the leg.
The key thing to note here is that for medical cases, specialists often prefer you to wear compression stockings for longer rather than not wear them at all. As we mentioned, it is fine to wear them for 24 hours sometimes, as long as you don’t do it too often, care for the stockings as instructed, and see a doctor if you’re noticing side effects.
There are cases where you’ll need to wear them for 24 hours
These include long work shifts when you’re up and about or sitting down or when you’re on a long-haul flight (for example, the 24-hour one from Perth to London.) In such cases, your veins could use the added pressure since your legs are either not moving much or are below heart level.
Seek specialist advice
When picking out compression garments (especially if it’s your first time), it’s important to know which type you need. You should also speak with your doctor or a vein care professional, as they can help you choose and determine any risks. These may include an allergy to a common material used in compression knit fabric or a disorder like ischemia.
Compression stockings and varicose veins
Compression stockings ARE good for relieving varicose vein pain and swelling. But if you need to wear them through the night just to sleep, it may be time to seek treatment. Procedures like laser ablation, medical superglue, and sclerotherapy are minimally invasive and highly effective for getting rid of the varicose vein and its symptoms. Compression garments, on the other hand, won’t eliminate the vein and thus do not address the issue of faulty valves and reflux, which cause the condition to begin with.
If you have any questions or are ready to start your varicose vein treatment journey, call us at 13 VEINS (that’s 13 83467) or request an appointment online.