When it comes to home treatment for any kind of pain or inflammation, a hot compress is very effective.
Warmth from a hot compress is soothing and healing for the body. It helps dilate blood vessels, which makes it easier for the blood to distribute nutrients throughout the body as well as flush out toxins.
A hot compress helps relieve pain, increase circulation, relax muscle spasms, aid wound healing, and treat several skin and eye problems. It is usually applied for 5 to 15 minutes every 2 hours.
Commercial hot packs are available but may not be suitable for all body parts. For instance, your eyes may not be able to bear the weight and bulkiness of a commercial hot pack. Also, commercial hot packs may contain chemicals that can harm your skin if there’s any leakage.
However, it’s easy to make a hot compress yourself at home using some simple, cheap materials you probably already have laying around your house.
Here are some methods to prepare a hot compress at home.
1. Moist Compress
This is the simplest way to make a hot and moist compress. All you need is a towel and some hot water.
- Fill a large bowl with hot, but not boiling, water.
- Submerge a cotton cloth in the water until it’s saturated.
- Wring out the excess water, so that it doesn’t drip.
- Fold the cloth into a rectangle and place it in a ziplock bag. This will help seal in the moisture and the heat.
- Place the compress on the affected body part.
2. Dry Heat Compress
A dry heat compress is very easy and convenient to use. However, one major downside is that it could potentially dehydrate the skin. If you have dry skin, avoid this compress and stick to a moist warm compress.
- Put 3 or 4 tablespoons of cooked rice into a ziplock bag. Heat it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Remove it from the microwave and set it aside. Wrap a washcloth around the bag and use it as needed.
- Alternatively, heat a thick-bottomed pan. When it’s hot, add 1 cup of salt to it and allow the salt to get warm. Transfer the warm salt to a clean cloth and tie it into a bundle (you can also secure it with a rubber band). Your compress is ready to use. Once the compress cools down, reheat the pan and place the bundle on top of it until it warms up again.
3. Hand Towel Method
One of the best and simplest ways to make your own heating pad is by using hand towels. For this, all you need is two hand towels, a ziplock bag and a microwave.
- Wet 2 hand towels with water.
- Squeeze out the excess water until the towels are just damp.
- Put 1 towel in a ziplock bag, but don’t seal the bag.
- Heat the bag in the microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Carefully remove the bag from the microwave.
- Wrap the hot bag with the other wet towel.
- Your homemade heating pad is ready for use.
4. Rice and Socks
You probably have a pair of old socks sitting in your drawer not being used. Now, you can use those socks to make yourself a homemade hot compress. Any type of sock will do, but if you have tube socks, use those.
This type of hot compress works great if you have neck or shoulder pain.
- Fill the sock with some uncooked rice.
- Close the opening of the sock by either sewing it shut or tying a knot.
- Heat the sock in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.
- Carefully remove it from the microwave –it will be very hot.
- Wait for a minute or two, then apply it to your neck or shoulder.
- If needed, microwave it again for 1 minute and reapply.
Along with uncooked rice, you can also use uncooked beans or oats.
5. Glass Bottles
You can use bottles to quickly and easily make your own hot compress. Be sure to use glass bottles, not plastic bottles. Glass bottles are more effective at retaining heat.
- Fill a clean glass bottle with boiling water and close the cap securely.
- Wrap the bottle in a thin towel before applying the hot compress on the affected area.