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
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).
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
Basin of ice water
Cotton wash cloth
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
Thrash, A, Thrash, C. Home Remedies. Seale: NewLifestyle Books; 2005, 68p.