The lymphatic system is hard at work removing waste and toxins from the body’s tissues. However, certain conditions can cause lymph fluid to build up and cause puffiness, uncomfortable swelling, and even infection. The best way to relieve it? Massage. While some massages carry a hefty price tag, a lymphatic drainage massage is easy to DIY from home with no strings or price tags attached.
The Lymphatic System
Now you may be wondering, what is a lymphatic massage in the first place? Lymphatic facial massages work with the lymphatic system by targeting the lymph nodes and draining the body of toxins and other unwanted materials. Not only are they extremely relaxing, they can have benefits for the entire body.
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that rid the body of toxins. Lymph nodes play an important role in the lymphatic system; there are more than 600 lymph nodes in the body. Lymph nodes are glands that filter and cleanse the lymphatic fluid, AKA lymph, as it passes through your lymphatic system.
Lymph fluid supports the immune system by transporting infection-fighting white blood cells called lymphocytes throughout the body. However, lymph vessels can become obstructed, causing the flow of lymph to be blocked and the lymph nodes to swell. Not only can this cause puffiness and discomfort, but the buildup of toxins can also reduce immunity while increasing the risk of infection and inflammation.
Causes of Swollen Lymph Nodes
Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that your body is fighting off infection, illness, or reacting to stress. Swollen lymph nodes can range in size from a small pea to the size of a cherry. They are often painful to touch and can cause limited movement and puffiness. Swollen lymph nodes in the head and neck area can occur as a result of a bacterial or viral infection including, but not limited to:
- Ear infection
- Cold or flu
- Sinus infection
- Tooth infection
- Mononucleosis (mono)
- Skin infection
- Strep throat
- Serious immune system disorders such as lupus or fibromyalgia
Lymph obstructions can also lead to a more serious condition called lymphedema. Lymphedema causes severe swelling, usually in the arms or legs, after a lymph is removed during surgery. Though there’s no cure for lymphedema, swelling lymph nodes and lymph buildup can be relieved with a simple lymphatic massage.
Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massages
A gentle, specialized massage, done professionally or at home, can help ease some of the symptoms that come from an obstructed lymph vessel. Draining lymph nodes gets fluid and blood circulating again and helps to spread infection-fighting white blood cells throughout the body.
Massages can help to reduce anxiety, headaches, tissue strains, and joint pain. Lymphatic drainage can also relieve symptoms of stiffness and depression in people living with fibromyalgia. Since the immune system is directly linked to the lymphatic system, lymphatic drainage massage can stimulate white blood cell circulation to fight off infections like colds or flu.
Research has also shown that there is a direct link between the skin and the lymphatic vessels. When the vessels are blocked, it can cause stretching and sagging of the skin. Not only can lymphatic facial massages help to boost your immune system, lymphatic massage benefits can also include sculpting, soothing, and firming of the skin.
How to do Lymphatic Facial Massage at Home
There’s no need to go to a professional and dish out money for a lymphatic massage - you can easily do your own lymphatic facial massage at home using simple tools, at your leisure, and for free! Lymph nodes are concentrated in areas of the face and neck. Facial massaging tools can supplement your at-home massage by providing more targeted and precise pressure to drain your lymph nodes. If you want to know how to drain lymph nodes effectively, target the following areas:
- The sides of the nose - this massaging facial roller is great for draining the narrow contours of your face
- Near the corners of the lips
- The sides of the cheeks, below the cheekbone and near the ears
- The tender skin behind the ear
- The slides of the neck
- Along the jawline
Here is how you can do your own lymphatic facial massage from home:
- Relax and find a comfortable position (sitting, standing, or lying down).
- If you wish, apply a facial oil or serum to help the hands (or facial roller) glide along the skin.
- Using the palms of your hands, apply a comfortable amount of pressure and begin to massage the face in upward stroking motions, Begin by working your way from the top of the forehead down to the eyebrows, to the temples, cheeks, jawline, and down the sides of the neck.
- Use your ring finger and switch to a rolling movement to massage the skin and reduce inflammation underneath the eyes and behind the ears.
- Repeat for 10-15 minutes until you feel the pressure go down.
- Remember, not only is this a great way to treat swollen lymph nodes, it’s a bit of self-care to help you relax and destress.
The lymphatic system plays a huge role in your health and wellbeing. Any disruptions to this system can affect your overall immunity and the appearance of your skin. Luckily, lymphatic drainage massages are a great way to maintain healthy and beautiful looking skin while also reducing swelling and boosting your immunity. All of that, free of charge!