Compression stockings and summer don't really go together. Or do they?

How heat affects the veins

Many people complain of swollen and aching legs in summer. Why is that?

Due to heat, the elasticity of the blood vessels decreases and they dilate. The veins become more permeable. The consequence: venous fluid leaks out and flows into the surrounding tissue. This results in swollen legs. Even people with otherwise healthy veins can feel this effect. However, heat can cause problems, particularly for people with pre-existing vein problems and therefore already dilated veins. The veins dilate even further, which impairs the return flow of blood even more. This leads to painful and swollen, so-called summer legs. There is also a risk of varicose veins becoming inflamed and the risk of thrombosis increases.

What can one do about it?

Wearing compression stockings can help prevent painfully swollen legs. By applying precisely defined pressure to the leg, compression stockings reduce the increased venous pressure caused by vessel dilation. The pressure is highest in the area of the ankle and decreases upwards. This supports blood flow in the veins and the blood can flow freely back to the heart. This can reduce painful swelling of the legs.

But compression stockings in the summer?

We are fully aware that most people are not really inclined to put on their compression stockings and wear them during the warm summer months. But having swollen and aching legs is even less appealing. So, compression stockings it is after all.

Tips and tricks for wearing compression stockings in the summer:

  • Thin compression stockings are particularly suitable in summer. Those with a cotton component are also ideal, as they provide good thermoregulation. Stockings with open toes can be comfortable in summer.

  • Compression stockings can be moistened with a washcloth or spray bottle. But be careful: a wet foot can promote athlete's foot, among other things, so this area needs to be watched closely.

  • The summer heat makes stockings sweaty more quickly. It is therefore important that the stockings are washed daily by hand or at 40 degrees in the gentle wash cycle. 
  • A compression stocking only helps if it is worn. Therefore, wear the stockings for as long as possible. If the heat becomes unbearable, the stockings can always be taken off - it is still better to wear the stocking for a few hours than not at all.

Further reading