Socks for Nurses – Complete Guide (with Rating & Socks Pictures!)

cute blue and black support hoses
support hosiery varieties for RNs

Socks for nurses! Do you need them? So, for any of us who work very long shifts, we know how it feels to be on our feet for eight to twelve hours a day.

you need 15 to 20 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg, or 30 to 40 mmHg knee high graduated clothing

So, if a patient comes out of surgery compression socks are usually recommended for the patient, and that’s it. Nothing is normally said about nurses being in need of knee high graduated clothing, which would help improve blood circulation. We think knee high graduated clothing should be taught in school. So, we want to have this discussion because it helps any nurses out there.

Are Nursing Socks Effective for Nurses? 15 to 20 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg or 30 to 40 mmHg

Graduated compression medical hoses have been shown to improve blood circulation to help treat venous valve incompetence and prevent the incidence of recurrence. Some studies show that 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression medical socks can heal venous incompetence. Stockings for nurses can effectively do the following:

  • Improve blood circulation velocity
medical hoses boost blood flow
  • Reduce superficial venous pressure
reduce the recurrent of superficial vein thrombosis with 15 to 20 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg, or 30 to 40 mmHg knee high graduated clothing
  • Improvement of lymphatic drainage
15 to 20 mmHg and 20 to 30 mmHg knee high graduated clothing can improve lymphatic drainage
  • Reduction of reflux in the deep veins
medical socks can alleviate venous reflux
how medical hosiery work
use of graduated compression support hosiery

Compression socks therapy need 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg of graduated compression to counteract tissue capillary. Different graduated compression nursing clothing are available to provide the necessary level of graduated compression. We sell the best knee high 30 to 40 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses. Continual and long-term control of venous disorders is important to prevent future problems in your nursing career.  

improve your performance during your shift with medical hoses

Use of Compression Therapy

support hoses level of support in percentages at different parts of the leg
a RN wearing comfortable support hosiery
  • You must exercise caution when applying 30 to 40 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses
  • Use a lightly elasticated graduated compression nurse socks in case you have a wound dressing on your leg
  • Use compression socks in preference to the use of elastic bandages
  • If you have little to no knowledge of graduated compression socks therapy, you should seek for additional advice for their use from an expert
  • Consider smaller sizes of 30 to 40 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses when dealing with edema
wear medical hoses when relaxing after a shift

How Long Should I Wear the Clothing?

a nurse working a 12-hour shift
a tired nurses after a long shift

It is a question that most people are concerned with, especially nurses who have little knowledge of compression socks.

tired RN meme

When compression socks were first introduced, medical doctors used to recommend a duration of about six weeks. For medical reasons, a doctor’s recommendation may require you to wear compression socks for one to two weeks following treatment.

fatigued RN in need of medical socks

But as you can see these recommendations may not be the most ideal for nurses. A medical doctor would recommend that your wear 30 to 40 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses at night to help improve blood circulation in the legs.

excessive standing requires good quality nursing socks
RN need 15 to 20 mmHg 20 to 30 mmHg or 30 to 40 mmHg knee high graduated clothing

But it is not that necessary because when you lie down on your bed, pressure in the superficial system returns to normal.

If you are self-prescribing 20 to 30 mmHg, 30 to 40 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses, we suggest you consider how long your shift is in a day. A nurse’s shift can be 12, 10, or 8 hours long and the working days are usually Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm and weekends, depending on the hospital. And most nurses work on just weekends, nights, or days. They may also work as needed, full-time, or part-time.

night shift RNs be like.......

So, based on all the above, you can conveniently wear 20 to 30 mmHg, 30 to 40 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses based on how long your shift lasts.

RNs wearing cute knee high graduated compression clothing
RN wearing comfortable 20 to 30 mmHg knee high graduated clothing

Also, you should consider wearing your 20 to 30 mmHg, 30 to 40 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses after shift to improve blood circulation to relieve swelling and soreness.  

Benefits of Nursing Socks – Do 15 to 20 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg or 30 to 40 mmHg Help

15 to 20 mmHg knee high graduated clothing
20 to 30 mmHg knee high graduated clothing

Compression of the socks actually helps with the gravitational pull of the blood back up into the heart. So, without wearing knee high graduated clothing, the following happens. The blood will just pool in your veins. It moves, but not as quickly as it would move when wearing knee high graduated clothing. The 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression socks actually squeeze the legs and the veins in the walls of your legs and moves the blood back up. This really helps release lymphatic fluid so that you don’t experience swelling and edema in your lower extremities. What are the benefits of compression socks?

protect your legs from unsightly varicose veins with medical hosiery
prevent bruising with thigh length graduated compression clothing
medical hosiery protects your legs from injuries
  1. Protects your legs and your feet from scratches and abrasions. If you have the correct knee high graduated compression socks, you will be able to protect your feet. Not to mention that the best graduated socks do usually have antimicrobial properties. You really need these knee high graduated compression stockings for nurses, considering how many times you have bumped into so many beds. The graduated clothing on your legs will decrease the amount of bruising that you normally see on your legs after a long and stressful shift.   
you can wear thigh length for more protection
be done with leg swelling by wearing medical hoses
  1. Knee high graduated compression stockings-for-nurses reduce swelling in your lower extremities. The swelling on itself can be one of the most uncomfortable things in your nursing career. The constant pushing, pulling, and lifting of items in the hospital applies a lot of pressure to your legs forcing them to swell. The 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses can actually create warmth and alleviate soreness. So, having graduated nursing socks constantly squeezing against your legs and moving that lymphatic fluid upwards is important. It actually alleviates a lot of the soreness.
reduce swelling with medical hoses
  1. They help treat varicose veins and spider veins. If you have ever seen varicose and spider veins, they will make you run for the hills. They appear as a horrible, blue discoloration map on your legs that look horrific. Do yourself a favor and wear 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression stockings for nurses. Without medical hoses, you run the risk of developing blood clots in your legs.

she's going to look cute in medical hosiery
  1. Knee highs graduated compression medical hoses complement your dress code. In nursing, we all wear the same thing, you know those uniform patterns with the same color. So, the only thing that we can actually change and show off when we want to, is our 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses. You can literally choose any color or pattern you want because the wish list is long.      

medical hoses make nurses look cute
soft and comfortable medical hoses help relieve fatigue
  1. Leg fatigue is another major drawback of being a nurse. And as you can imagine, you don’t have the time to do those tricky exercises, such as ankle pump to improve blood circulation to your heart. So, your only convenient fix is to wear 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression nurse socks. They not only help improve blood circulation, but also relieve stress to your legs, hence reducing leg fatigue.
get rid of heavy legs and fatigue with medical support hosiery

What Conditions Do Graduated Compression Nurse Socks Treat during Long Nursing Shift

hectic shift definitely needs medical support hosiery
long standing shifts need medical support hosiery

It might be a new concept to most of you, but 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression nurse socks help improve blood circulation and treat a number of conditions.

  • Varicose Veins
varicose veins can be treated
varicose veins before and after the use of medical hose

Varicose veins and their complications are a very common problem in nursing, causing discoloration and morbidity. The condition affects almost every nurse in the nursing department with only an exception of a few nurses who work out or do some sort of exercises. Most of the varicose veins are due to the stressful working condition in a nursing environment, congenital or familial predisposition that leads to loss of elasticity in the vein wall and incompetence of venous valves.

varicose veins thigh length hosiery

The venous system is made to return blood in circulation to the heart. To achieve this, your veins contain a series of one-way valves. This is necessary because, unlike arteries, there is low pressure in the veins, and movement of blood only takes place through the pumping action of muscles. However, valves can become incompetent, leading to pulling and blood congestion. Varicosities of the superficial veins can be unsightly and painful, but they are more serious when they occur in the deep veins of the leg.

varicose veins vs. normal veins
types of varicose veins

A common complication of varicosities is inflammation. Blood clots may also form in the deep veins. Prevention of varicose veins is much easier than treatment. To prevent this condition, you have to improve blood circulation in your legs. You can easily achieve this with 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses. Varicose veins can be asymptomatic or can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Throbbing pain
  • Fatigue
  • Heaviness
  • Spider Veins
spider veins that can be treated with medical hoses
spider veins - before and after wearing support hosiery

They are simply annoying, unattractive, and ill-fated part of being a nurse in the nursing world. These frail blue or red lines in your legs are just puffed-up veins. They can pop-up anyplace on your body and they are most common on the legs. In some cases, they may develop in one area, creating a spider web pattern. In some few occasions, they may cause burning sensation or pain in the legs.

The good news is that spider veins can be controlled with 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression stockings for nurses. What graduated compression socks do is improve blood circulation in your lower extremities in order to improve venous valve function. There are no specific symptoms that are associated with spider veins, but the most common one is:

  • Spider-like patterns through the skin of the leg
  • Ankle Sprain
sprained ankle after a long shift
a sprained ankle in need of support hosiery

This is a torn or stretched muscle, tendon, or ligament. The vulnerable position of the ankles of a nurse leaves them susceptible to stress as well as injury. They are usually the most affected joints a in nurse’s boy. An ankle sprain would occur when a nurse rolls over onto the external of the foot, which places the full weight of the body on the muscles that support the ankle. Symptoms vary in intensity with respect to the severity of the injury. The most popular ones being:

  • Loss of mobility
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising  
  • Redness

As you can see, these are terrible side effects of a hectic day at the hospital. Some studies have indicated that wearing 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses can help alleviate and prevent ankle sprain.

  • Edema or Swelling
medical hoses can treat swelling
alleviate swollen legs with support hosiery

It is not uncommon for nurses to notice some swelling in the hands, feet, and legs. In most cases, the swelling may be a result of long periods of standing. You may often observe more swelling of your ankles, feet, and legs during the summer months. The best way to improve blood circulation and reduce/prevent swelling is by wearing 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression nurse socks. The symptoms and signs of edema are:

  • Persistence of indentation of the skin
  • Swollen extremities
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis support hosiery
Plantar Fasciitis can be treated with medical support hosiery

This is another condition that usually affects most nurses during nursing shifts. This condition is a common cause of heel pain and often mistaken for a spur. This condition is defined by a thick ligamentous band in the lowermost part of your foot that runs from the ball of your foot to the heel, where it is attached. Bad alignment of your foot that causes supination or pronation of your foot during walking causes stress and stretching of the plantar fascia. Pain is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis.

The pain normally gets worse after you have rested from a long period of nursing shift. Some nurses may experience a high degree of pain in the morning hours. The pain may go down after a period of walking, but may increase as you begin a new shift, putting pressure on your heels from standing or walking. If your nerves become irritated, the pain may radiate to your ankles. Stretch exercises and 15, 20, 30, or 40 mmHg graduated compression medical hoses can be considered as the most ideal symptomatic treatments. There is only one common symptom associated with this condition:

  • Pain at the bottom of the foot

How to Choose Compression Nursing Socks

The choice of the best compression socks depends on a number of factors, which will help you differentiate one pair from another.

The Ideal Support Level for Nurses  

support level comparison
different support levels and indications

When looking for socks, what are you really looking for because all graduated compression nursing socks are not the same? Therefore, the one thing you want to look for is the graduated compression socks mmHg (millimeters of mercury). What does it mean? This simply refers to how tight the graduated compression nursing socks are. I believe they come as less of 10 and they go all the way up to 40+. Any mmHg above 30 is more of a medical grade compression socks that you see your patients wearing in the hospital.

You want to have nurse socks that are between 8 to 15 mmHg, 15 to 20 mmHg, and 20 to 30 mmHg. The most ideal graduated compression for most nursing working conditions should be between 20 to 30 mmHg. They have a firm graduated compression, but they are not too tight to the extent that they cut off blood circulation to your legs. Nursing socks designated as 20 to 30 mmHg will provide you with about 30 mmHg graduated compression at the level of the ankle and 20 mmHg graduated compression at the calf.

What this graduated compression does is encourage the flow of fluid from the greater to the lesser pressure. That is from lower to higher graduated compression. Most studies have found that graduated compression nurse socks can alleviate most conditions. You should be careful into talking yourself into wearing a higher graduated compression level. They are difficult at best for most people to put on. In most circumstances, light graduated compression nursing socks are better than no compression socks at all.     

Choose the Ideal Length

There are different varieties of graduated compression nursing socks for different body parts, such as:

Knee high nurse socks: These extend from the toe to just under the knee

perfect length for nurses

Thigh length nursing socks: These extend from the toe to the gluteal fold just under the buttocks

thigh length support hosiery

Graduated compression pantyhose: This one extends from the toe to your abdomen


Graduated compression pantyhose with belt: It extends from the toe to your abdomen and features a belt

pantyhose with belt

In addition to selecting the correct class, type, and style for the indication, it is important to correctly measure and fit 20 to 30 mmHg, 30 to 40 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression nursing socks.  

Size of Compression Socks

How to Measure Knee High

knee length measurements
ankle measurement

You can do this on your own, but you can get the most accurate measurements if you have a friend or relative do it on your behalf. Here are the steps to follow:

  • If you are not able to stand just sit on the edge of a comfortable chair and make certain that your knee is in a straight posture, while the heel is settled on the floor
  • Use a soft tape measure (preferably cloth) and measure around the broadest section of the ankle
  • Then use your soft measuring tape to measure the broadest part of your muscular back part of your shank
  • The last step is to measure the stretch from the bottom of your ankle to just under the joint between the femur and tibia in a quadruped

How to Measure Thigh High

thigh length measurements

For thigh high 30 to 40 mmHg, 20 to 30 mmHg, or 15 to 20 mmHg graduated compression stockings for nurses, you will have to measure your ankle, calf, and gluteal fold. Here are the steps to follow:

thigh length measurements
  • Use you measuring tape to measure the broadest segment of your ankle and make sure you measure the bare skin without any clothing
  • Measure the broadest part of the muscular back part of the shank and make sure the tape comes into contact with your skin
  • Then measure the broadest section of your leg between your hip and the knee
  • For the length of the stockings for nurses, measure from the bottom of your heel to just under your gluteal fold  

Helpful Tips

  • Take your body measurements first thing in the morning when swelling is usually minimal and the leg smallest
  • Measure only over bare skin to make sure you get the most accurate measurements without any obstructions
  • All your length measurements should be taken without wearing shoes and your feet flat on the floor
  • It is ideal to use a cloth measuring tape and not a metal measuring tape because the cloth one is highly flexible

Specific Features to Look For

If graduated compression nursing socks offers you comfort, you should wear them, but you have to choose the ideal pair of nurse socks. But to do so, you need to know a few things about the design of compression socks.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

  • Comfort
medical hoses with comfortable materials

It does not matter what level of support your graduated hosiery provide. You need knee high graduated clothing that will improve blood circulation and offer comfort at the same time. Look for a pair that features comfortable material. The ideal material should be lightweight, breathable, and form fitting, which helps to maintain joint stability during active nursing hours. One of the most popular material is copper infused fabric, which has a good function to improve blood circulation and relieve muscle tiredness, and give you comfort feelings. The copper infused is a very special technology that involves blending copper ions into fiber. The fiber that is infused with copper ion is converted into graduated compression clothing.

  • Fashion, Color, and Patterns
beautiful patterns for RNs

As we earlier mentioned, the only way you can make adjustments to your nursing uniform is by choosing graduated clothing of flamboyant colors and patterns. Alternatively, you can settle for solid colors, such as black, white, yellow, orange, or green to mention a few.

  •  Construction
construction of a medical hose

A quality construction should have a non-binding top band on the knee or thigh end, which is great because it helps keep the graduated clothing comfortably in place. The heel pocket should be reinforced with stitching to help improve blood circulation and durability of the graduated clothing at the ankle area. The material has to be infused with an antimicrobial agent, such as copper for effective odor control. The toe box should be roomy with a single flat seam to help prevent friction during active hours. Make sure the areas around the Achilles tendon and calf are padded for added protection.

  • Ease of Application
how to put on medical hoses
use a donning device to wear medical hoses

One of the most challenging part of using graduated compression clothing is probably application, especially when you do it yourself. So, choose a style that will work for you. Most people would conveniently choose knee high graduated compression clothing. They are easy to put on with hands or a donning device.

This page last updated January 7, 2022