How best to look after a swelling foot?

Posted , 8 users are following.

This is my first post, so I apologise in advance if I'm doing it wrong.

In October of 2011, I had a very severe bout of cellulitis, primarily in my right foot and lower leg. I was told at the time that there'd be some kind of permanent tissue damage, and ever since my foot and ankle have tended to swell from time to time. Most often, it happens in hot weather or after exercise if I've not been able to rest it. However, resting it for a little while has always put it right.

Recently, I've started working ten hour days, and since the weather became hot (not long ago, admittedly) I've noticed it swelling significantly - more than usual - by the end of the day. It's also starting to hurt, and it takes rather longer to recover when I'm able to get home and rest it. There's no possibility of resting or elevating at work.

Given that I know what's happening, I don't want to waste time making a gp appointment merely to ask for advice, so a friend pointed me in this direction. What I came to ask was how I should be looking after the foot. Is simply resting and elevating it when I get home the best (or, indeed, only) plan? Or is there something else I should be doing to look after it?

Many thanks.

0 likes, 13 replies

13 Replies

  • Posted


    I'm sory I can't help you but I'm having similar problem to you. I had a bad case of cellulitis, starting in the thigh and spreading to the foot. I was in hospital for IV treatment for one week. That was three months ago, although I responded well to the antibiotics, my foot is still not well. It gets swollen and hot when I walk. Also it feels like burning in the arch of the foot. It just responds well to being elevated as you said.

    How are you now? Have you found an answer?

    • Posted

      Hey momo1 just curious how long did you have cellulitis for and how far did it spread? Mine was in my foot but didn't go to far up my ankel. I had effects for about a week. I took the antibiotics but it looked like it went away for the most part. Minimum pain, the swelling went down and the redness went away. So I stopped taking the meds. Well now im having burning pains in the bottom arch of my foot. Wondering if I should go back to the hospital, maybe it didn't heal all the way. I seen you also said about the arch in your foot burning. Not sure what to do. But I hope this isn't something that's permanent, because its highly uncomfortable. Hope you can help thanks
  • Posted

    Hi momo1,

    I completely understand.

    I had severe cellulitis in my lower left leg and foot - started a few weeks ago. I was on Flucloxacillin tablets for 5 days (oral, pretty good but maybe not very strong?)

    Then I was on Ceftriaxone (Intravenous, but didn't have to stay in hospital) for 3 days. It worked but I seemed allergic - red spots all over torso, itchy, felt hot and face looked like I had a tan from a holiday!

    Then I was on Clindamycin tablets for 5 days. Worked but with following allergic reaction - foul metallic taste in mouth, swelling lips, diarrhoea, itchy all over.

    Now I'm off antibiotics and just keep my leg elevated with 2 cushions when I sleep and also try and rest it horizontally when I'm working (from home anyway).

    I find that I can wake up and my ankle&foot look pretty good, but after keeping my leg vertically down for, say 2 hours, it swells quite a bit.

    I think (hope!) that the infection is gone - I believe the swelling occurs because gravity pushes all the blood downwards into the ankle and foot (my leg size/redness is not too bad now).

    Around 2 weeks ago I could watch my foot change colour just by lifting it in the air for around 3 seconds!

    Each day the pain got less and less (with foot down) and now there's hardly any pain, just a little discomfort if I keep it down for several hours.

    I think the swelling generally happens so easily because the soft flesh (with all the blood vessels in) was stretched so much that it almost becomes spongier and softer, so it swells easier with just the weight of blood, and blood pressure. When it swells it feels warmer too.

    It's so tedious but I'm just keeping my eye on it at the moment. I take a couple of photos with my phone every day. This is great for looking for changes over periods of time.

    I have no idea what even caused the cellulitis. Maybe a bit of athlete's foot, or a scratch/sting on my right foot(?) that I seemed to notice one morning just before my severe fevers started, and then the cellulitis.

    Hope you recover soon momo1. Hope we all do.


  • Posted

    Hi Zulu

    I'm sorry to hear of your misfortunes and allergies to antibiotics, but I'm glad you are getting better.

    Since I wrote the post I have been looking into massaging and exercises. The massage consists of lightly tapping the foot and also with soft semicircular motion upwards from the foot to the side of the leg and towards the heart. Also doingbreathing exercises filling the abdomen before the lungs (you can feel immediately as you exhale the flow in the legs and foot, it's amazing) and walking as much as I can and wearing a compression stocking. My veins in that leg are not very good so I imagine that it will take time. There are also exercises one can do while with the feet up or even while sitting, they consist of stretching foot up and down and also the toes up and down. Also, when putting legs up do circles like bicycle riding. I mainly researched for these Edema of the leg and foot.

    I found a good video for the massage on Youtube: Manual Lynphatic leg drainage. The interestic part is that the Eastern Qigong also has similar massage for the legs but starting at the hip and using both hands at the same time which I find easier to do. It's important to be gentle and not use oils and let the skin come with the fingers.

    I hope this will help you. I got my cellulitis from a cats' claw when he jumped onto my thigh. It spread from there. I'm in tropical country and I had just arrived and I don't think I was aclimatised to the local bacterias.

    Let me know how you are going.


  • Posted

    Hi momo1,

    Thanks so much for all your information - I really appreciate that.

    My compression-sock is on it's way smile

    Just wondering how long (if ever) it'll take for foot and ankle swelling and colour to go back completely.

    How are you now?


  • Posted

    Hi Zulu

    I'm a bit better but perhaps not a lot. It's funny as I look into forums about Cellulitis, I notice a lot of people have pain, but luckily I didn't, although my foot gets a bit sore and hot underneath if I walk a lot, so short walks are better. I did do a lymph drainage by myself after a lot of research and it worked. I got rid of a lot of water/liquid from my body and my foot seemed to have improved. But I think it can be dangerous doing it often. Since then I think it's the same. Ok if I have it high up, but if I do a normal life, with standing and walking it swells. But I always think its improving although extremely slowly. I'm also living in the tropics where it's hot so not so good for this type of thing. The cat patted my arm the other day. She lightly touched my skin with her nails and within two days i had cellulitis in the arm. I took immediately Cloxacillin and applied lots of Silverene cream and in less than 24 hrs it was all gone. It's scary with the cat and she is so lovely. I'm thinking about taking her to the vet.

    I'm glad you are buying compression stockings. Where I am there aren't any so I will look into buying through the Internet.

    Hope you are better.

  • Posted

    Hi Momo,

    Sorry to hear you're still struggling with it, and your cat! Hopefully it's better than when you posted that message?

    I bought the compression stockings from an online retailer myself too. I did post the link address but they removed it on this forum as I don't think they allow links.

    I used the compression sock only for a few days and it made the world of difference to the swelling.

    It kinda squeezed back together all my flesh and I think it was exactly what I needed at the time.

    My cellulitus seems to have calmed down, the infection has gone anyway.

    My ankle now only inflates by I would estimate about 3% to 5%. Its not really a problem at all.

    Also, my lower-leg, ankle and foot are darker and I don't think the proper colour will ever return (doc advised me too) but I really don't mind. At least it's not ruining my life anymore.

    I did try 1 of the lymph drainage things and I'm not sure if it worked, but it felt good though wink


    • Posted

      Just curious as I asked Momo the same thing. Will the bottom arch of your foot hurt forever. Or maybe the cellulitis isn't gone all the way? I stopped taking the antibiotics cause the swelling, pain, and redness went away so I didn't finish them like your supposed to. I had the effects of cellulitis for about a week. Now it's been like 3 or 4 days and I'm having really bad pain in the bottom arch of my foot. I don't know what to think because I can't deal with it much longer. I have a 1,3, and 13 year old to chase after everyday. So I need an answer asap if you can help thanks so much in advance smile
    • Posted

      Hi Julie90634,

      I didn't have that problem to be honest, though it took many weeks before "blood-rush" pain went away.

      I think with things like cellulitis, I would certainly finish the course of antibiotics (plus more!) to make sure the infection has _completely_ gone otherwise I understand it may spread again from any infection that may be left.

      In my opinion do it sooner rather than later as unfortunately these things spread fast.

      Hope that helps and hope your suffering eases.


    • Posted

      I have had cellulitis since the end of may last year,i am allergic to penecillin so had variousĀ  antibiotics,also had IV for 5 days,but still got it,its never totally cleared,my gp gave me cream to put on it so been using it since the 11th Jan.Itried raising my leg but it hurts to do it for long,and couldnt walk well after havin it raised.
    • Posted

      Really sorry to hear it.

      I hope and pray it cures fully and gets easier for you.

      May be worth asking for a different/stronger antibiotic.


  • Posted

    Hi Zulu

    Glad to hear you are better and got the stockings.

    I have been much better and walking everyday 3.5km with basically no signs. Even the hot spot i had on the foot is now gone. But beginning this week was very hot and I stood for a few hours and the foot and ankle swelled a lot. It is taking days for it to go down; so last night i did again as last measure the lympho massage and once again almost all swell went down. Keep trying with the massage. Light pressure almost like puxing a coin (its amazing that it works) and with rhythm and upwards movement in a semi circular sort of way. Massage first at the top of the thigh near main lymph node and outer thigh and go slowly down to the foot and up again on the inner side. Stay longer where it's swollen. There are lots of videos. The thing is, it will just get worse if we dont do anything and it will reach a stage that's irreversible. Hopefully we both are still not at that stage.

    I also noticed my leg, has a different colour tinge to it if foot is a bit swollen. Like a red/grey colour.

    You can send me name of company for stockings. They don't sell them where I live and it's very important, specially when doing lots of exercise or travelling as I do. Just the name will do.

    Have a look at this article:

    It has been great being able to share these bits of info.

  • Posted

    Hi momo1,

    Yes, it's been great sharing info with you too!

    Thanks for everything.

    It's a shame they removed the link. Okay the name of the company is "daylong". Just google that and you'll see it.

    They have different compressions - I ordered "VENOSANĀ® Supportline Mens Compression Socks 18 - 22 mmHg" - certainly worked a treat for me.

    Good luck!!


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