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Primary & Secondary Lymphoedema Online & in the Community


When buying shoes for Lymphoedema feet L-W-O suggests that you shop for shoes when your feet are swollen. The reasoning behind this is that you will not be trying to cram swollen feet into shoes that are not big enough.

  • You should always wear footwear both indoors and out
  • ​Wear well-fitting footwear for support and protection
  • ​Do not walk around barefoot in case you step on something or stub your toe
  • ​Do not walk around barefoot as you are more likely to pick up a fungal infection
  • ​New shoes - break in before wearing for a special occasion
  • ​Shop for shoes when your feet are swollen
  • ​Feet are likely to be swollen in the evening so this might be the best time to buy shoes
  • Shoes, sandals, boots should not leave indentations
  • Blisters can cause cellulitis

​​At the bottom of this page there is a chart and a video that shows or suggests the best way to buy shoes.

L-W-O recommends that you have your feet measured on a regular basis.

​L-W-O recommends you visit a Foot Health Practitioner, Chiropodist or Podiatrist on a regular basis.

Breaking in New Shoes


L-W-O always recommends that when you buy new shoes that you allow the time to break them in.  There is nothing worse than going out in a pair of shoes for a full day that you haven't had time to get used to.  How many times do we buy shoes for a special occasion and by the end of the day come home with aching legs, sore feet and blisters.

Cautionary tale

Someone I know went to a wedding, wearing new shoes for the first time.  This person did not have lymphoedema but did develop blisters that turned to Cellulitis.  Weeks of antibiotics, hospital visits followed and quite a long recovery time.

Break-in new shoes

·         wear for around 30 minutes a day

·         increase time over next 7 - 10 days

·         check for redness or swelling

·         check for signs of infection

All this can be done in the comfort of your own home, you are not likely to damage the shoes before that special occasion and you save yourself a lot of misery.


Shoes and damaged feet

I have spent quite a lot of time and effort researching the damage shoes can cause to your feet. Flat shoes like 'ballet' shoes can cause a problem because they compress the fluid at the top of the foot and cause further pain.




Flip Flops

This is where I get into trouble, I am constantly suggesting to our members that they do not wear flip flops.  I have lost count of the times that I am told "I don't know what I am talking about" or get told "I am still going to wear mine".


All I can do is give you the facts that are out there and suggest you do your own research so in brief flip-flops offer:

  • Little or no heel and arch support
  • Prone to injuries - stub you toes, twist your ankle, curled toes
  • Stress fractures or Plantar Fasciitis 
  • Changes the way you walk leading to back pain, hip and knee pain
  • Cause blistering between the toes, if the blister bursts you have open wound that will allow bacteria and infection to get in, this could lead to cellulitis
  • You are walking in the dirt, because of the thin sole, therefore, any break in the skin allows for infection
  • The skin will dry out quicker leaving it cracked and your feet more vulnerable to infection
  • Open to the sun so risk of sun burn

You can apply sunscreen to the top of your feet but do not apply to the bottom as it will make walking slippery making it hard to keep your footwear on. 

Danger of flip-flops Source:


Shoes too tight

Those of you who have lymphoedema in your feet do have to take special care of your feet.

The photograph is of a foot with lymphoedema and a blister caused by the shoe being too tight.  If you look closely you can also see the indentation of the shoe around the heel area.  

Thank you to the L-W-O member who sent me this photograph and has allowed me to publish.

Shoes a Nightmare?

Most of us cannot begin to imagine how difficult it is to buy shoes for someone who lives with lymphoedema in their feet and legs.  Buying shoes is a nightmare.

Each foot is likely to be a different size and as we know shoes are sold in pairs.  There is no consideration from manufacturers that feet could be so different.  Fashionable shoes, heels become a thing of the past. 


If you are more likely to wear socks in winter to keep your feet warm then make sure you change them every day.  This will prevent bacteria building up and being transferred to your feet.  Preferably use cotton socks.

If you prefer to wear tights, ankle or knee highs, they should also be changed everyday. Good shoes are also important to give your feet the support they deserve.

Make sure your socks and hosiery are not too tight and that they do not leave indentations.  If possible wear socks that are seamless.