Navigate Up

Men's Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Varicose and other vein problems - self-care

The blood flow is slow from veins in your legs back to your heart. Blood tends to pool in your legs, especially when you stand. As a result, you may have:

  • Varicose veins
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Skin changes or even a skin ulcer in your lower legs

These problems usually get worse over time. Learn self-care that you can do at home to: 

  • Slow down the development of varicose veins
  • Decrease any discomfort
  • Prevent skin ulcers

Alternate Names

Venous insufficiency- self-care; Venous stasis ulcers - self-care; Lipodermatosclerosis - self-care

Wear Compression Stockings

Compression stockings help with swelling in your legs. They can gently squeeze your legs to move blood up your legs. 

Your health care provider will help you find where to buy these and how to use them.

Make Time to Exercise

Do gentle exercises to build muscle and to move blood up your legs. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Lie on your back. Move your legs like you are riding a bike. Extend one leg straight up to the sky and bend the other leg.  Switch your legs.
  • Stand on a step on the balls of your feet. Keep your heels over the edge of the step. Stand on your toes and let your heels drop below the step. Stretch your calf. Do 20 - 40 repeats of this stretch.
  • Take a gentle walk. Walk for 30 minutes four times a week.
  • Take a gentle swim. Swim for 30 minutes four times a week.

Put Your Feet up

Raising your legs helps with pain and swelling. 

  • Raise your legs when you are resting or sleeping.
  • Raise your legs above your heart three or four times a day for 15 minutes at a time. 

Do not sit or stand for a long time. When you sit or stand, move your legs every few minutes. 

  • Bend and straighten your legs.
  • Keep the blood in your legs moving back to your heart.

Take Care of Your Skin

Keeping your skin well moisturized helps it stay healthy. Talk with your health care provider before using any lotions, creams, or antibiotic ointments. Don’t use: 

  • Topical antibiotics, such as neomycin 
  • Drying lotions, such as calamine 
  • Lanolin 
  • Benzocaine or other creams that numb the skin 

Watch for skin sores on your leg, especially around your ankle. Take care of sores right away to prevent infection.

When to Call the Doctor

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if: 

  • Varicose veins are painful 
  • Varicose veins are getting worse 
  • Putting your legs up or not standing for a long time is not working 
  • You have a sudden increase in pain or swelling 
  • You have a fever, redness in your leg 
  • You get leg sores

Updated: 8/25/2012

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com