Pete

About Pete

Pete is a VP at BrightLife Direct, with over 15 years of experience in the compression hosiery business.

A Comparison of Sheer Compression Stockings

In this update we compare Therafirm Sheer Ease, Allegro Premium Italian Sheers, Allegro Essential Sheers, Juzo Attractive Sheers, Mediven Sheer & Soft, Sigvaris EverSheer and Jobst UltraSheer; the main lines of sheer compression hosiery we sell.  We compare sheerness, knit, construction, color and top band.  To do this, we took a size medium thigh high in a 15-20mmHg compression from each brand in the most skin neutral shade, and put it on a clear leg form in front of a window.  Here’s what we found…..

more-sheers-003Knit and construction were almost identical across the seven brands.  There was no major difference in the construction or size of the foot portion, with the exception of the Allegro Essential Sheers.  This brand has a roomier balloon toe with a seam that runs under the foot between the toes and ball of the foot.  All of the others have a seam running across the end of the toes.  All have a reciprocated heel.  Under a magnifying glass there are differences in the knit, but to the naked eye they look the same, with the exception of the Therafirm which has a less open weave.

We did find a definite difference in the visual sheerness of the stockings.  Sigvaris EverSheer and Allegro Essential Sheers were the clear winners, followed closely by Mediven Sheer & Soft and Allegro Premium Italian Sheers.  Next came Jobst UltraSheer and Juzo Attractive SheersSheer Ease was the least sheer of the group.  For many women, having the sheerest stocking isn’t necessarily an advantage.  The slightly opaque sheers hide skin discolorations, spider veins, and other blemishes while giving the appearance of a sheer stocking.

There wasn’t a huge difference in color.  Again, we chose the nude or natural shade from each brand and placed them in order from lightest to darkest in the photos.  Therafirm nude was the lightest, followed by Allegro Premium nude, Allegro Essential nude, Jobst natural and Sigvaris natural.  Mediven natural was a little darker, and Juzo beige was the darkest.

more-sheer-bands-003

Where these stockings varied the most, aside from sheerness, was in the design of the top band.  All seven have a lace exterior.  The difference was in the design of the silicone on the inside of the band.  Therafirm and both Allegro’s have two strips of silicone.  Jobst gives you the option of traditional strips of silicone, there are two, or silicone dots.  Juzo and Mediven use a low profile honeycomb design.  Sigvaris uses the Sensinnov band, which is a solid sheet of silicone.  They claim this band won’t slip or roll, is very skin friendly, and won’t cause thigh bulge.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct
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Do Compression Stockings Make Your Legs Itch?

Itching is universal.  Everyone, at some point, has to scratch an itch.

There are so many things that make us itch, besides wearing compression stockings, that determining and eliminating the cause is almost impossible.  Xerosis or dry skin makes us itch.  Allergies, fungal infections, and insect bites can make us itch.  Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema can cause severe itching.  Even scratching can make us itch more.  Repetitive scratching produces a thick, often slightly darker area of skin, that itches even more.  A topical cream with capsaicin or corticosteroid may be required to break the itch-scratch-itch cycle.

Completely eliminating the itch from compression stockings may not be possible, but you may be able to reduce the severity by moisturizing.  We sell several creams and gels that do a great job of moisturizing your skin, and there are many dermatologist recommended pharmacy brand lotions that do a good job too.  I have very dry and sensitive skin, plus eczema and psoriasis, and have found Cerave lotion does the best job of keeping my skin type moisturized.  I slather it on from head to toe in the morning after I shower, and at night before bed.  In the morning, I try to moisture at least 15-20 minutes before donning my stockings so the lotion has time to be absorbed.  Consistency is important.  If I miss a day or two, my skin starts to itch again, with or without compression stockings.

This regimen won’t work for everyone, but if your legs itch when you wear compression socks, give it a try for a few days to see if it helps you.

More Than A Beautiful Sock

I met the guys behind Top & Derby about a year ago at a medical trade show in Atlanta.  They were displaying the most beautiful canes, made from walnut with a simple silicone handle.  As we talked they mentioned that their next project would be compression stockings.  Based on the design of their canes, I was expecting a beautifully made sock, and they didn’t disappoint.  BrightLife Direct is the first US retailer to sell the new Trig Compression Sock from Top & Derby.

Designed for men and women, the Trig is more than a beautiful geometric pattern.  This stocking is really well made.  The nylon, Lycra blend is substantial without being too thick, and is extremely soft.  There’s a reciprocated heel, so it fits perfectly, and an invisible toe seam for comfort.  The top-band is part of the sock so there’s no binding.  I did a wash and wear test, three times in the washer and dryer, and the stocking stayed up all day.  (Top & Derby recommends you air dry this sock.  It will retain its compression and color longer if you do.)

Trig provides a moderate level of compression, 15-20mmHg, which makes it a perfect choice for travel and everyday wear.  This stocking is sized by ankle and calf circumference, so be sure to measure your leg.  Measure first thing in the morning, around the narrowest part of your ankle and heaviest part of your calf.  Also measure the length of your leg from the floor to bend of knee.

trig-for-blog

The most difficult part of ordering this sock will be deciding what color to buy.  Your choices are “Not your Granny’s Smith”, a combination of yellow, gold, gray and light blue.  “Coral of the Story”, features triangles of deep coral, light coral, brown, blue and beige, and “Going Bare Black” a geometric mixture of blacks and grays.  I couldn’t decide, so I got all three.

Allegro is getting a new look!

Your favorite Allegro compression products are getting a new look.  The stockings will NOT change, but we are very excited to announce redesigned packaging for Allegro. The new packages include illustrated donning instructions, a size chart, care instructions and some easy to understand icons on the front, that tell you a little about the stockings inside.  We’re also reorganizing the products into two groups, Essential and Premium, and making a few name changes so the products are easier to find online.  Product item numbers will remain the same.  Our new packaging will roll-out slowly over the next few months, and you’ll also see a few new products being added.

Here are a few more details on the changes:

  • New organization! With the addition of so many new socks, we’ve organized the Allegro lines into “Essential” and “Premium”.  Essential socks are your favorite everyday, low-cost socks. They’re durable, comfortable and won’t strain your wallet. Allegro Premium Socks are made from more luxurious materials, like Italian Cotton, and are priced a bit higher.
  • The dance names sadly, are dancing away.  The Jig, Swing, Samba, Jazz, and Paso Doble were fun, but they didn’t describe the products very well.  New product names will now be more descriptive.  For example, the Allegro Jig Cotton Sock will now be called the Allegro Essential – Unisex Cotton Compression Sock.
  • The item numbers will NOT change.  If your favorite sock is the #100 – it will still be the #100 on the new packaging and online.
  • New products! We listened to your feedback, and went on a hunt to find the best compression products available.  We found premium sheer stockings, wool knee highs, an open toe cotton sock, and a super soft sock made with milk fibers.  Details on these exciting new products will be coming soon.

Check out some of our new packaging artwork below and let us know what you think!

new allegro package blog

The Healing Power of Silver

Many of you already know Oslo the Schnauzer, our company Mascot and unofficial “Director of Security”.  I took Oslo to the dog park last Sunday.  Oslo was romping and rolling with her best girlfriends, Eloise and Ramona.  Their “play” is always friendly but they do sometimes get overly exuberant.  As the dogs were running circles around me I received an accidental but nasty scratch on my calf from one of their paws.

dogs-for-blogWhen I got home I cleaned and disinfected the scratch and didn’t really think about it again until Monday morning.  Both my socks and jeans rubbed on my calf, and although it wasn’t painful, it was very irritating.  Earlier that morning I had read an article in the Washington Post about how hospitals are starting to install copper handles, switches, and fixtures to fight the spread of viruses and bacteria.  Both copper and silver have been used for centuries to clean wounds and fight infections.  What luck that BrightLife sells a soft tubular bandage with X-Static silver threads.  We sell it to patients and medical facilities for use in the treatment of lymphedema, dermatological infections, and wounds.  Unlike other bandages, this slightly elastic tubular bandage slips on arms and legs without adhesive.  There is no screaming and crying like the kind that occurs when you yank an off adhesive bandage.  I cut a piece off a 3” roll, slipped it on my leg, and the irritation was gone instantly.

petes-leg-for-blogIt’s Tuesday morning and I’m still wearing the Silverseal X-Static Tubular Bandage on my leg.  There’s no pain or irritation, and the scratch is healing nicely.  Both my leg and I should be ready to take Oslo to the dog park this coming weekend.

Healing and Preventing Leg Ulcers

Every year in the US, 2.5 million individuals develop leg ulcers, the majority of these are due to severe venous insufficiency, or poor circulation.   Healing a leg ulcer is a long, slow process that requires compliance and perseverance.  Swelling in the leg needs to be reduced, and blood flow to the affected area needs to be reestablished.  This is typically accomplished with a combination of compression bandages and compression stockings.  Once healed, it’s imperative that compression be used on a regular basis to prevent the ulcer from reoccurring.

Mediven recently introduced a new double sock combination for the treatment and prevention of venous ulcers.   Consisting of a low compression closed toe stocking liner, with a higher compression outer stocking, the Dual Sock System is available in 30-40 mmHg and 40-50mmHg.  Layering socks makes wearing a higher compressions much more comfortable, and comfort along with ease of donning increases compliance.

Mediven Dual Layer Sock

Wearing two socks together has a number of advantages.  The inner liner sock has a light compression, which makes it much easier to put on.  It can be donned without disturbing a wound or wound dressing.  Treated with ClimaFresh Odor Protection, the inner sock also helps inhibit bacterial growth.  The liner can be worn alone at night, if prescribed by your doctor, although care needs to be taken that it doesn’t roll-down.  Studies have shown that wearing two socks in combination, offers better containment than a single stocking.  And finally, the inner sock makes it MUCH easier to put on the higher compression outer sock.

Mediven’s Dual Layer Sock System is sold in pairs, 2-liners and 2-outer stockings, along with a foot slippie to make donning even easier.  Both compression levels are Medicare approved, if you have an active venous ulcer on your leg.

The End of Slipping and Sliding – Jobst SoftFit and Medi Vitality

New compression stockings from Jobst and Mediven, with a totally new top-band, will put an end to slipping, sliding, and top-band strangulation.

Traditional knee highs with a grip-top have a top band sewn onto the sock that is covered on the inside with dots or strips of silicone.  This band never stretches as much as the stocking material, and the thickness of the silicone pushing into your skin can, for some, be quite uncomfortable.  The new band technology, uses individual threads of silicone that are knit into the top-band of the stocking. softfit-detailThese threads are very soft, and gently adhere to your skin.  Due to its superior gripping power, the tension of the top-band can be reduced.  You get a stocking that stays in place all day, without strangling your calf.

Jobst is calling their new band SoftFit.  It’s now available in their UltraSheer knee highs, in 15-20, 20-30, and 30-40mmHg compressions.  On the exterior, it looks just like a soft, knit UltraSheer top-band.  Inside you can see the fine strands of silicone.  Rub over them, and your skin sticks to the threads, but they feel very soft.  SoftFit knee highs are available in Natural and Black, and Full-Calf sizes.

Mediven is calling their new top-band mediGrip, and they have developed a totally new sock called Vitality to introduce this new technology.  Vitality is an opaque trouser sock with a contemporary herringbone pattern that will look great with a pair of dress pants or jeans.  Available in three colors, Charcoal, Chocolate, and Ebony, Vitality is offered in Regular and Petite lengths, for shorter legs.  Because compression stockings can dry your skin, Medi treats the Vitality fabric with lanolin.  This lanolin technology moisturizes your skin, and lasts the lifetime of the stocking.

So if your support stockings slip, slide, or strangle your calf, give one of these new stockings a try.

2XU, Definitely Not A Fashion Statement

Originally introduced as women’s basketball back in the early 1900’s, Netball has gone on to become the #1 women’s sport in New Zealand.  Their national team, the Silver Ferns, are currently ranked second in the world.

One of New Zealand’s top players, Maria Tutaia has recently come under fire for wearing 2XU compression sleeves on the court.   Tutaia insists she’s not trying to promote the brand, just play the best game she can.

maria tutaia wearing 2xu compression socks and armsleeve

She told NZ3News,  “I am carrying a few injuries.  I’m there to play the best netball I can, not just for myself but for my team and my region and that for me is wearing compression garments.  Yes it is for a medical reason, I injured my plantar fascia at the Commonwealth Games last year and I’ve had a few Achilles problems.  The compression garments just help the blood flow through in places where it’s hard to flow through.”

You can watch the full interview on NZ 3News.

Jobst to cut 200 North Carolina manufacturing jobs, moves to Mexico

Jobst is one the of largest and best known compression hosiery brands in the United States.  We were caught by surprise to learn that, in a cost-cutting measure, all US production is being moved to Reynosa, Mexico.  The BSN Jobst facility in Rutherford College, NC is now in the process of being closed.  We’ve been assured by Jobst that the quality of their stockings will remain the same. They will be knit on the same machines, with the same fibers, just in a location wijobst-logo-blogth cheaper labor.

 

 

The Jobst move will have a profound impact in that North Carolina region’s economy.

The Morganton, NC News Herald quotes Rutherford College Town Manager Kenneth B. Geathers Jr. as saying, “A bigger issue is the effect it will have on the town’s human capital.  The field of manufacturing has gradually been dissolving before our eyes. If you built a life here in Burke County and you were an employee of BSN, you’ve got to start all over.”

Speaking on behalf of BSN Medical (the parent company) Ann Maitland, group director of global operations said “I regret these developments for our plant here in Rutherford College, but out of a business perspective this decision was indispensable to secure the long-term success of our company. We want to thank all colleagues for their contribution to BSN and wish them the best for their future.”

BrightLife Direct salutes our other suppliers who have chosen to keep manufacturing in the USA, providing the kinds of jobs that are necessary to maintain the strong communities in which they are located.  Sigvaris is made in Georgia.  Mediven, Therafirm and Allegro (our private label brand) are made in North Carolina.  Juzo is made in Ohio.  LympheDivas are knit in North Carolina and printed & pressed in Massachusetts. Thanks guys!

New Lower Bandage Pricing – Lohmann & Rauscher

Lohmann & Rauscher was formed in 1998 with the merger of the German company Lohmann Medical, and Rauscher of Austria.  Together they form one of the largest medical products companies in Europe, with more than 150 years of experience manufacturing bandages, surgical dressings, and medical devices.

lohmann-blogBrightLife Direct is very happy to announce that our Lohmann & Rauscher bandage prices have been significantly reduced.  And unlike most of our competitors, we offer free shipping on any size order.  Just choose Super Saver Free Delivery at checkout.

Anyone who has been through decongestive therapy for lymphedema, or wound care, knows how important quality compression bandages are to the success of their treatment.  Poorly made bandages or the wrong type can slip and slide, requiring lengthy re-wraps.  Lohmann & Rauscher’s dedication to quality is unmatched, and they manufacture the greatest variety of stockinette, padding, gauze and short-stretch bandages in the world.