Cold Compress


A cold compress is basically just a cloth dipped in ice water and wrung out, then applied to the skin.  There are other ways to apply cold, but usually they involve actually applying something frozen, so would fall under the category of “cold pack” or “ice pack.”  A cold compress is different because it just uses cold water.  For this reason it does not hold it’s cold temperature as long and it’s cold temperature won’t penetrate the tissues as deeply- so it’s a convenient and safe way to treat superficial conditions of the skin, more than for deep tissues.



Effects / Benefits

  • Causes blood vessel constriction superficially which reduces local blood congestion associated with inflammation or related to increased body heat.  For these reasons it can reduce pain, itching, swelling.  It is especially good for applying to simple allergic reactions on the skin.


  • When applied to the forehead and/or face a cold compress can reduce blood congestion, headache or discomfort related to elevated body temperature or during other heating techniques such as the steam bath (any time those techniques are used to produce sweating it is best to use a cold compress to the forehead). 



Contraindications
Should not be used on someone who is chilled, at risk for chilling or has a strong aversion to the use of cold
Avoid using a cold compress for sinusitis or pleurisy
Discontinue using the cold compress if it causes discomfort or unpleasant symptoms



Equipment
Basin of ice water


Cotton wash cloth


Technique
Immerse the wash cloth in cold water, then wring most of the water out (its best to wring it out enough so that it will not drip, but not to make it so dry that it will warm up quickly or not be able to transfer cold temperature to the skin).


Lay the cloth on the skin, mold it to the target area.


Renew it frequently (by dipping it in the ice water again and wringing it out) every few minutes for 10-15 minutes or throughout the heating technique as needed.


Pat the skin dry thoroughly when finished



References
Thrash, A, Thrash, C. Home Remedies. Seale: NewLifestyle Books; 2005, 68p.


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