Edema (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is pitting edema and how does it differ from non-pitting edema?

Pitting edema can be demonstrated by applying pressure to the swollen area by depressing the skin with a finger. If the pressing causes an indentation that persists for some time after the release of the pressure, the edema is referred to as pitting edema. Any form of pressure, such as from the elastic in socks, can induce pitting with this type of edema. This type of edema may be normal depending on the severity. Almost everyone wears socks all day will have mild pitting edema by the end of the day.

In non-pitting edema, which usually affects the legs or arms, pressure that is applied to the skin does not result in a persistent indentation. Non-pitting edema can occur in certain disorders of the lymphatic system such as lymphedema, which is a disturbance of the lymphatic circulation that may occur after a mastectomy, lymph node surgery, or congenitally. Another cause of non-pitting edema of the legs is called pretibial myxedema, which is a swelling over the shin that occurs in some patients with hypothyroidism. Non-pitting edema of the legs is difficult to treat. Diuretic medications are generally not effective, although elevation of the legs periodically during the day and compressive devices may reduce the swelling.

The focus of the rest of this article is on pitting edema, as it is by far the most common form of edema.

Picture of Pitting Edema
Picture of Pitting Edema
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/6/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Edema - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for edema?
Edema - Causes Question: What caused your case of edema?
Edema - Signs and Symptoms Question: In addition to swelling, what were your signs and symptoms associated with edema?
Edema - Salt Intake Question: If you've had edema, in what ways do you adjust your salt intake?
Edema - Diuretics Question: Do you take diuretics to control edema? Please discuss your experience.
Edema - Edema Experience Question: Please describe your experience with edema.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!