Warm Compress: How to Make and When to Use It

Priyank Pandey
Written by Priyank Pandey on July 26, 2020

Whenever you have had sports injuries, dental pain, or any eye related problem, you must have heard people say about Warm Compress.

People have heard about Warm Compress, but no one knows when and how to use it.

Well, today, Healthroid is bringing together experts from all over the world to discuss everything you need to know about Warm Compress.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • What is warm compress
  • When to do a warm compress
  • How to make a warm compress
  • How to do a warm compress
  • What are benefits of doing warm compress
  • What are downsides of warm compress
  • A warm compress can be used for what
  • Lots more

So without further ado, let’s get started.

What is a Warm Compress?

A warm compress is the application of heat to an area of the body. Warm compresses can be either moist or dry. A moist warm compress can be made from a towel soaked in warm water. A dry warm compress can be a hot water bottle or a heating pad; Dr. Leann Poston, a licensed physician and contributor of InvigorMedical, explains to Healthroid.

Also, According to Dr. Leigh Plowman, Optometrist & Founder of Dryeyedirectory, warm compress is usually done at a tolerable heat. If it’s too hot, it can cause problems to delicate parts of the body. Generally, you’ll feel if it’s too hot.

When to Do a Warm Compress?

Dr. Poston says; warm compress is used to deliver heat to the body. Increased heat increases blood flow to an injured area of the body which can relax tense muscles, relieve pain, and decrease joint stiffness. Warm compresses are also used to increase inflammation and help with the healing process in non-acute injuries by bringing growth factors and increased oxygen to the tissues.

Also, according to Dr. Leigh; warm compresses are helpful for dry eyes and clogged eye oil glands. They help loosen clogged oil (Meibum). Warmth helps turn the oil from a solid to a liquid. This makes it easier to flow onto the surface of the eyes.

How to Make a Warm Compress?

Dr. Olivia Audrey says; there are a few different types of compresses, but the basic concept is the same. According to her to make a warm compress, follow these steps:

Step 1: Use a clean sock filled with uncooked, dry rice or oats filled to about 3/4 of the way full.
Step 2: Use peppermint oil or orange essential oils to add in some aromatherapy as well.
Step 3: Seal the end of the sock by sewing or tying with a string, the more full the compress the less soft it will be.
Step 4: Microwave for 35 seconds, and using a buffer such as a towel between skin and the compress.

You may use the same steps with a wet piece of cloth to produce a wet compress, she added.

In addition, Dr. Leigh said, you can also purchase warm compresses that are designed for the eyes. These are usually a device that fits closely to the eye area. Newer devices also include gentle vibration to help loosen clogged oil glands.

How to Do a Warm Compress?

According to Dr. Poston; follow the below steps:

Step 1: Apply a warm not hot compress to the affected area for 20 minutes or so.
Step 2: Repeat as needed every 20 minutes.

According to Dr. Leigh, if you are doing it for dry eyes; sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Apply the warm compress over your closed eyes. You may like to do relaxation, mindfulness or listen to a podcast as you do the warm compress. Make sure that the compress is sitting in place. Adjust if needed. Make sure it isn’t putting too much pressure on your eyes. Sitting up slightly can help.

What Are Benefits of Doing a Warm Compress?

Moist heat can reduce muscle spasms and relieve aching joints by increasing blood flow to an injury. Blood carries growth factors and other chemicals that can speed-up tissue healing and decrease pain. Warm compresses can also relieve stiffness when you are rehabilitating from an injury; Dr. Poston explains to Healthroid.

Dr. Leigh says; in case of dry eyes, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is the most common cause. Warm compress helps the oil glands flow well and your eyes get a natural protective coating of oil. This helps the normal tears to avoid evaporating quickly.

What Are Downsides of Doing a Warm Compress?

A warm compress increases blood flow to an injury. This is not a good idea for a recent cut or injury because it can lead to increased bleeding and swelling. Increased blood flow increases inflammation which results in the release of chemicals which can delay healing. For a new injury, you need to decrease blood flow by using a cold compress instead; Dr. Poston explains.

Dr. Leigh says; warm compresses heat up the skin area. This can encourage more germs to grow on your skin. On the eyelids, this is known as blepharitis. So he recommend drying your eyelids, then using a cleanser such as a hypochlorous acid spray, after the treatment. According to him, it kills the germs that throw debris into your eyes.

A Warm Compress Can be Used for What?

Dr. Poston says, a warm compress can be used any time you need to increase blood flow to an area to speed up healing and decrease pain. Acoording to all the experts possibilities include:

  • ear infections,
  • muscle cramps,
  • sprains or strains,
  • menstrual cramps,
  • boils or cysts,
  • sinus congestion,
  • tension headaches,
  • dry eyes,
  • styes on the eyelid,
  • closed wounds,
  • joint pain from arthritis,
  • ingrown toenails,
  • and toothaches
Priyank Pandey
Written by Priyank Pandey on July 26, 2020

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