- Drink lots of water – It is often a misconception that putting more fluid into your body will ultimately cause more accumulation of fluid in your ankles, or legs, or arms. This is entirely untrue. The water you drink actually helps keep your skin stay hydrated and helps maintain good elasticity. A tough, hardening of the skin called fibrosis can occur if you have poorly hydrated skin with the pressure of swelling on it for months/years.
- Move around – The more active you are the better. As you move, your muscles contract and relax, causing a “pumping” motion again your circulatory and lymphatic system. This type of “muscle pumping” will help work against gravity to move the excess fluid out of your limbs and into your kidneys to be excreted.
- Massage your legs/arms – Using an unscented and neutral pH lotion (skin pH is around 5), rub the lotion from the furthest point on your arm (fingers/hand) or leg (foot/ankle), up towards your body. You always want to do this in that particular direction to influence excess fluid to move up into your trunk lymphatic system and out of your body.
- Keep clean – When you have swelling in a limb, there is more pressure on the skin. With more pressure on your skin, the more porous your cells become which allows for an easier transmission of bacteria. It is more important to maintain good hygiene practices to prevent any accumulation of bacteria. Use a lotion that has a pH similar to that of your skin (around a 5) and avoid anything with fragrances. It is also recommended to avoid using a razor blade or electric razor. These can harbor bacteria in the blades and when used, can cause mirco-tears in your skin that make them more susceptible to bacteria. Use a hair-removing lotion when possible.
- Compression – Even you aren’t to the goal of wearing a properly fitting compression garment, it’s important to know the difference between good compression and too tight. You do not want to wear anything that is going to cut off your circulation and worsen your swelling; avoid tight jewelry and any clothes that create a tighter band around a small area, such a low ankle socks. If you have puffy ankles, try to wear high-top shoes that can provide more support around your ankles and feet versus wearing flip-flops.
If you are having any problems with foot swelling, ankle swelling or limb swelling in general, contact the therapists at Hohman Rehab to help you find a good solution for you. We treat patients with swelling in the Clermont 34711 area.