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Self-management - Varicose veins

If your varicose veins are not troubling you there is no need do anything. However, if you do have symptoms your GP may ask you to:

  • use compression stockings
  • exercise regularly
  • avoid standing up for long periods
  • elevate the affected area when resting

Compression stockings

Compression stockings are not suitable for everyone. Your GP will check your circulation and you may need an ultrasound doppler test.

Compression stockings have a special design. They squeeze your legs to improve circulation. They may help relieve the pain, discomfort and swelling in your legs.

They are available in a variety of different sizes and pressures.

Compression stockings are not usually a long-term treatment. They are only for the long-term if you cannot have any other treatment.

You may need them for the rest of your life if you have deep venous incompetence. Deep venous incompetence is due to a blockage or problems with the valves in the deep veins in your legs.

If you're pregnant

If you have varicose veins you may be offered compression stockings while you are pregnant.

Wearing compression stockings

You usually need to wear the stockings from morning to bedtime.

They can be uncomfortable. But it's important to wear them correctly to get the most benefit.

Pull them all the way up so the correct level of compression is applied to each part of your leg.

Do not let the stocking roll down your leg. This may cause it to dig into your skin in a tight band around your leg.

Talk to your GP if the stockings are uncomfortable or do not seem to fit. It may be possible to get custom-made stockings that will fit you exactly. If you need custom-made stockings, your legs will need to be measured. Get this done in the morning time when any swelling should be at its lowest.

If the stockings are causing the skin on your legs to become dry, apply a moisturising cream.

Keep an eye out for sore marks on your legs, as well as blisters and discolouration.

Caring for compression stockings

Compression stockings usually have to be replaced every 3 to 6 months.

If your stockings become damaged, talk to your GP. They may no longer be effective.

You should be prescribed 2 stockings so that one stocking can be worn while the other is being washed and dried.

If you're wearing 1 on each leg, you'll be prescribed 2 sets of stockings.

Compression stockings should be hand washed in warm water. Dry them away from direct heat.

Read more about varicose veins

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 25 March 2021
Next review due: 25 March 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.