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Warm Compresses: How To Make and Use a Warm Compress

Learn how to make a warm compress two ways and keep a compress warm for longer. Discover which issues may be helped with a warm compress.

Read on

Using a warm compress seems to be a go-to recommendation for various ailments ranging from sore muscles after a strenuous workout to helping a deep pimple come to the surface and drain.

Warm compresses are a popular treatment option due to their ability to easily and effectively bring more blood flow to the area in order to speed healing.

But, what are the best ways to make a warm compress, and what conditions can they be used on?

In this article, we will cover the different ways of making compresses and outline popular uses.

What kinds of things can you use a warm compress on?

Warm compresses are best used on issues or conditions that benefit from more blood rushing to the area or conditions that have clogged pores that need to be released

The most popular uses for a warm compress include:

  • Sore muscles
  • Eye styes
  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Certain eye infections
  • Sinus congestion or pressure
  • Acne boils or cysts
  • Ear infections
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Muscle spasms
  • Painful ingrown nails

However, not all conditions respond well to a warm compress, and a cold compress or no compress at all may be best.

Certain conditions that should not be paired with a warm compress include fresh highly inflammatory injuries or open wounds such as cuts, broken bones, or recent sprains.

These conditions tend to already increase the inflammation of the area and a cold compress may be better suited to these injuries to reduce the amount of blood rushing in.

If you have open wounds, you should avoid compresses all together until the area begins healing unless advised otherwise by your doctor.

Also Read: What Triggers Ocular Rosacea? How To Reduce Eye Issues When You Have Rosacea

How to use a warm compress

Once you have your moist or dry warm compress, you will start by testing the temperature before applying the compress to the area.

You want to ensure that the compress is warm, but not so hot that your skin may burn or scald.

Then, you will hold the compress to the affected area for up to 20 minutes at a time.

After time the compress will cool down and may need to be reheated to continue the compress.

During the time that you are using the compress, it is normal for the skin to become slightly pink or red, but if there is a pain, bright red coloration, or a burning sensation, you may have the compress too hot.

Hot compresses used on the eye area generally need to be cooler than compresses uses elsewhere on the body due to the delicate nature of the skin around the eyes.

You can use a warm compress many times daily as needed to help relieve symptoms or encourage the drainage of clogged pores or blocked ducts.

Read Related: Mild, Moderate, and Severe Acne: How To Tell Acne Severity Levels

How to make a moist warm compress

Step 1: Collect a clean cloth and find a source for warm water.

Step 2: Either hold the cloth under running hot water for a few seconds, or heat water in a container to dunk the cloth into.

Step 3: Wet the cloth with the warm water and then wring out the excess water until the cloth is wet but not dripping.

Step 4: Test that the temperature of the compress is not too hot and fold cloth for easy application to the site.

Step 5: Hold the moist warm compress on the affected area for up to 20 minutes as needed throughout the day. You may need to re-saturate the cloth with warm water during this time period as it cools down.

How to keep a moist warm compress warm

Step 1: Collect 2 clean cloths and a microwave-safe plastic bag.

Step 2: Wet both cloths with clean warm water and place one cloth folded inside of the plastic bag.

Step 3: Microwave the cloth inside the bag with the bag open for 1-2 minutes until it is very warm.

Step 4: Carefully remove the bag from the microwave making sure the steam does not burn you.

Step 5: Now seal the end of the bag to retain the hot steam and help the compress stay warmer for longer.

Step 6: Wrap the plastic bag with the cloth inside in the other warm water cloth and place on the affected area.

Step 7: Hold the warm compress on the area for up to 20 minutes at a time. The plastic bag with the microwaved cloth inside should help maintain a warm temperature for longer than just a soaked cloth.

How to make a dry warm compress

Step 1: Collect a clean long tube sock and enough dry uncooked rice or dry uncooked beans to fill it up about halfway.

Step 2: Pour the dry rice or beans into the sock and then tie a knot at the top of the sock to keep the contents inside.

Step 3: Microwave the sock and contents for 30 seconds and then test the temperature - it should be warm but not too hot or scalding.

Step 4: Keep microwaving and testing the sock in 10-second intervals until your sock is moderately warm but not too hot.

Step 5: Wrap the sock with the warmed contents in a clean dry outer cloth to ensure that you do not burn yourself.

Step 6: Apply to the affected area for up to 20 minutes at a time as needed throughout the day.

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