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:
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
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
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
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.