How to Reduce Swelling: Treatment, Home Remedies, First Aid, Foods

Swelling & its Causes

There are many diseases when the swelling on different areas of body display the symptom of poor health condition. Swelling of different parts is also one of such symptom. Swelling occurs when the hands, feet or other body parts enlarge. It is the result of a buildup of fluid or inflammation. It can occur internally and can affect your muscles as well as the outer skin.

Swelling can lead to a wide range of health conditions. One should seek the advice of a doctor if they notice any unexplainable swelling or are witnessing any abnormal weight gain. You need to understand that insect bites or injuries result in some form of external swelling, whereas internal swelling is the result of some form of serious injury. Immediate steps should be taken to reduce swelling.

How to Reduce Swelling

How to Reduce Swelling?

Creams/Ointments for Swelling:

There are quite a few topical pain killers in the form of ointments and sprays that can be rubbed over the skin to reduce pain and swelling. Although many of the products contain different ingredients that help reduce pain and inflammation some of the common ingredients include capsaicin, salicylates and counterirritants.


Some of the popular ones are felbinac, piroxicam, and ketoprofen. In addition to this, there are the host of sprays along with ointments to reduce the swelling.


  • Ibuprofen like Advil
  • Naproxen like Aleve
  • Aspirin such as Bufferin.

You need to consult your doctor to switch between doses of the above drugs. When you switch between the medicines, there is a strong chance that your child may get too much of the same. One should not take more than the prescribed dose of medicine, and the expert opinion of the doctor is need before consumption of the same. If one has had an allergic reaction in the past, then they should avoid medicines.

Treatment to Reduce Swelling:

The treatment to a large extent will depend on the level of swelling. If the tumor is causing the swelling, then surgery is the only way to remove it. If that cannot be removed surgically because of the location and the size, then the doctor is left with no other option than to adopt an aggressive form of treatment. The only evitable option left in this regard are chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the amount of swelling or inflammation. One can also resort to the use of antihistamines as they can relieve the extent of itching and swelling caused by hives and rashes. Steroid medicines may also be administered to ease the amount of skin inflammation. You should have a brief consultation to find out on whether these medications are yielding the desired results to reduce swelling. If they are not providing the desired level of results, then a stronger antihistamine is advocated.

If any chronic illness is causing the body to swell, you may be able to prevent the extent of swelling by properly managing the illness or consuming medicines to treat or reduce it. Any form of medication may also be prescribed for reducing the swelling and inflammation.

In some cases, the doctor may ask you to make lifestyle modifications to reduce swelling. Some of the effective home measures that you can take are to reduce the amount of salt, increase your intake of water to 10 to 12 glasses. You can also keep your arms and chest above the level of your heart.

First Aid for Reducing Swelling:

Swelling is build up of fluids in the body. It can be generalized or localized, and that depends upon the extent of the swelling. Depending on the area of the swelling, first aid should be administered at the earliest possible juncture. If the swelling is due to a minor injury, one will be able to manage it more at home, and this is known as the PRICE module which is as follows:

  • Protection- first and foremost the swelling should be protected from other injuries using some form of support or other measures
  • Rest – is a must to reduce swelling. Any form of rigorous activity should be avoided in the area of swelling 24 to 72 hours after the swelling.
  • Ice packs – it needs to be applied 72 hours after swelling. The pack needs to be wrapped in a towel and then need to be applied on the area for 20 minutes to reduce the amount of pain as well as swelling. If the need arises, it can be applied again on the same area after 20 minutes.
  • Compression- Applying a compression bandage can help reduce swelling. One needs to remember the fact that the bandage needs to be removed before one goes to bed.
  • Elevation – of the affected area helps reduce the pain and swelling.

All the above measures, if adopted, will reduce the swelling and pain. If the situation arises, one can also resort to the use of painkillers. A point to be noted is that you should avoid HARM 24 hours after the injury.

  • Heat – Any form of heat treatment like heat packs, saunas, etc
  • Alcohol – is known to increase the level of swelling and pain which can delay the healing process to a large extent.
  • Running – along with exercising will aggravate the damage to a large extent.
  • Massage – increases the bleeding and the swelling.

Home Remedies for Reducing Swelling:

Treatment of swelling is possible with the help of home remedies. Swelling is a problem that is accompanied by pain along with injuries. In most cases than not swelling subsidizes on its own, whereas in certain cases it may require medical attention. Here is a list of home remedies for swelling treatment.

Drink Water:

One of the best home remedies to reduce swelling is to drink 10 to 12 glasses of water. This works best if the swelling is caused by water retention. Sometimes, the body tends to store water when it is aware of the fact that it is going into dehydration mode. This leads to swelling of the hands as well as the legs. When you drink sufficient amount of water, the signal is sent to the body that the dehydration issue is solved. The net result is that it lets go the extra amount of water.

Understand the Injury:

If the swelling occurs on account of any external injury, the best home remedy to bring down the injury is to lie down on the bed and at the same time elevate the injured part of the body. It should be at the same or above level of your heart. The excess amount of fluid is drained out from the injured part of the body.

Hot and Cold Compresses:

The hold and cold compresses can be applied depending on the level of swelling of your body. This can be an effective home remedy to bring down the level of inflammation and reduce swelling. Say if the swelling is due to an allergic reaction, you can apply ice packs to bring down the level of swelling. It will cool down the skin and reduce swelling immediately.


The best mechanism to bring down the level of swelling in the hands, as well as the feet, is to exercise on a regular basis. A point to be noted is that by exercise it does not mean that you hit the gym. Mild exercises like walking can also provide a considerable amount of relief from swelling. One can also undertake some mild form of feet and leg-specific exercises to bring down the level of swelling.

Salt Solution:

Swelling in the hands and the feet can be reduced effectively with a simple home remedy of salt solution. 2 teaspoons of salt should be mixed in a glass of water. Then your hands and feet should be soaked in this salt solution for 10 to 15 minutes. It is very effective in draining out the extra flow of liquids to the hands as well as the feet.

Apply Pressure:

In the case of a mild swelling, applying a certain amount of pressure will reduce the swelling to a large extent. It should be done mildly, gently and point to the direction of the heart. The extra amount of fluids collected in that part of the body will be reduced. This is also one of the effective home remedies to reduce swelling.

Potato Juice:

During the stage of pregnancy, the body is known to undergo a lot of hormonal changes which may result in swelling of the feet as well as the hands. Edema is also experienced by the women during the final stages of pregnancy as well. This swelling can be irritating and painful at the same time. To reduce the amount of swelling during the times of pregnancy use potato juice as a home remedy.

A medium-sized potato should be cut into thin slices. This should be applied to your hands and feet. After 30 minutes rinse it off. The treatment needs to be repeated as and when required. In the case of potato slices, cucumber can also be used.

Reduce the Amount of Salt Intake:

It has been observed that in most cases of bloating and swelling, an excess amount of sodium in your diet is the main culprit. Salt is known to be the richest source of sodium, and the best home remedy to reduce swelling would be to cut down the excess amount of salt in your food. This will also involve in cutting down the excess amount of processed food like cheese and ready to eat meals. Consumption of these foods need to be reduced as they are highly toxic in nature, and a huge amount of salt is found in them.

Mustard Oil:

Many times it is observed that swelling is due to poor blood circulation to certain parts of the body, and this is especially related to the hands as well as the feet. To eradicate this problem, you will need to apply mustard oil on the affected areas as a part of the home remedy to reduce swelling. Then massage the swollen areas for 5 to 7 minutes and the blood will be restored to the affected areas and this will reduce swelling. Here one must note that the massage has to be done without any pressure on the affected area.

Compression Garments:

In certain cases, to reduce swelling, you can resort to the wearing of compression garments like stockings, gloves, and sleeves. These clothes are known to apply pressure on that particular area, and the fluids do not get collected in the tissue there. The net result is that it prevents swelling.

Stay Cool:

Sometimes hot weather can result in swelling of the hands and the joints. This is all the more so when it concerns women, as the hormone estrogen is responsible for the body towards the hot climate. It induces the plasma to leave the blood vessels and enter the tissues.

This will result in accumulation of fluid in that particular region resulting in swelling. Hence to avoid swelling during the summer months, the best method would be to remain cool on all counts. You need to remain indoors when the sun is at its peak and increase your intake of cold food and if possible have cold baths twice a day. In case one has to travel in these days, all the necessary precautions must be taken to avoid the direct sun.

Maintain Weight:

Swelling of the hands and the feet is a common problem that is observed in overweight people. If you are a victim of painful inflammation and that too for no reason, then go and check your weight. Control your diet and undertake exercise on a regular basis. Not only it will help you reduce your swelling, but you can have a tab on any other form of medical conditions if any.

If none of the home remedies mentioned above is helpful and you are not able to reduce swelling with first aids, home remedies, and foods, then it is suggested that you undertake medical diagnosis. Thorough diagnosis can help to find the actual cause of swelling.

Foods That Help Reduce Swelling

There is an age old saying of “What you are is all as what you eat” and food can be important in reducing swelling in your joints along with inflammation. So to reduce swelling what are the foods that can help you out? Let us find out

Good Oils:

If one has not started cooking with olive oil, then now is the time to start. It contains omega fatty acid and oleic acid that reduces inflammation. If you use an extra amount of olive oil in your foods and salads, you will get the food working faster for you. It is good for the brain and the heart too.


Red meat has a bad reputation because of the high cholesterol and salt content that triggers inflammation. Switch to fish if you are looking for protein and salmon, cod and bass are a few of them. All of them have a high content of omega three fatty acid and will reduce swelling to a large extent.

Fruits and Nuts:

Between your daily course of meals try nuts and fruits. Almonds along with sunflower seeds are great choices. Both of them are rich in omega three fatty acids. One can also resort to processed snack food with fruits like apples, pineapples or strawberries. The antioxidants present in the fruits and vegetables guard the body against the free radicals which can cause cellular damage.


Garlic is a powerful food in the health department section and is an effective remedy for swollen joints. Mint levels can also be used for bad breath, and they will help reduce your swelling.


For centuries herbs have been used to reduce swelling and promote health. Herbs like Basil are delicious choices when it comes to your cooking, and is a source of antioxidants. Certain herbs like chili pepper have antioxidants in them that reduce pain, swelling and fight inflammation.


Eating healthy does not mean missing your favorite sweet stuff in the form of chocolates. It is known to contain 70 % of cocoa, and that is the way to go for sure.


Besides reducing your risk of cancer and heart diseasegreen tea in combination with other liquids stages an inflammatory fight within your body. You could add some lemon juice to hot or cold tea that perks up the flavor of tea and boosts the antioxidant levels.

When you are preparing your shopping list, make it a point that fresh is the best as the nutrients tend to be on the higher side. When you are dining out, keep the healthier choices in mind.

How To Reduce Swelling Naturally?

Quite often swelling can be prevented or reduced by following some simple natural measures and lifestyle modifications.


It is known to reduce inflammation naturally, and the blood is prevented in accumulating in your blood extremities. If one is suffering from inflamed and swollen legs, then swimming is the best solution. When one floats, then the impact is taken off their feet, and that eases the discomfort to a large extent.

Elevate the Swollen Feet:

If one is not ready for the head start yet, then you can try elevating your legs to a higher level so that they are above your heart. You need to do them three times a day and that too for 30 minutes and the difference can be observed. When in bed put down the ankles below the feet.

If your job involves sitting for long periods of time, then go for a walk.

A little change in schedule and movement during the work hours can also be much helpful to avoid or reduce such swelling naturally. There are various exercises you can carry out during work hours also which are though simple yet much effective.


It is easier to avoid swelling by preventing smoking. It is one of the effective measures to reduce swelling. It can lead to dangerous conditions that can lead to limb swelling.

Massage the Painful Area to Reduce Swelling Naturally:

It is better if you can make it someone do it for you. It is extremely relaxing and is known to improve the blood circulation. One should use gentle but firm motions, and all this lead to the direction of the heart

Magnesium Supplements:

Feet inflammation and swelling can be related to the deficiency of magnesium in the body. A small dose of 350 mg of magnesium can work more than wonders of the body, but all should be taken under the advice of an expert.

When Should You Seek a Medical Help to Reduce Swelling?

If the PRICE and the HARM approach does not help in reducing swelling, then the only option is to seek medical help. In addition, a medical consult maybe necessary in the following instances:

  • If the pain and swelling do not reduce after 72 hours, then it is the case of more than a sprain or a strain
  • If the swelling is accompanied by shortness of breath or chest pain, then medical intervention at the earliest possible juncture is needed
  • If you are a diabetic and have swollen feet, then the swelling can have dangerous impacts on the affected area.


Swelling as disease requires a multidisciplinary approach. The causes related to it may be internal or external in nature. You need to identify the source of its origin and take steps at the earliest as it may be generalized or local in approach. If it is possible, you can undertake the treatment in your home or adopt a natural approach. First aid should also be administered at the earliest possible juncture. If all the above measures fail to yield positive results, then the only outcome left is to visit a doctor. You need to understand that swelling may also arise due to some serious health ailments or bad lifestyle changes. The doctor through a series of tests and physical examination will find out the exact cause and rectify it.

The article deals with what swelling is all about and what are the home as well as natural remedies related to the same. In addition to this, it also deals with the foods that you should have to reduce the amount of swelling.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 7, 2018

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