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How to Make a Cold Compress

Applying a cold compress is a time-honored way to reduce inflammation and ease pain in countless situations, from bruises and migraines to bee stings and scorpion bites.


  • Step 1: Fill bowl Fill a bowl with ice-cold water.
  • TIP: If ice cubes are available, add them to the bowl to make the water as cold as possible.
  • Step 2: Dip washcloth & wring out Dip a folded washcloth into the bowl for about 10 seconds and then wring out the excess water.
  • Step 3: Press to area Press the chilled washcloth to the inflamed area and keep it there until the compress loses its chill.
  • TIP: An ice pack will stay colder longer than a washcloth, but wrap it in a clean cloth or towel first; it should never come in direct contact with the skin.
  • Step 4: Refresh water supply Refresh your cold water supply if it loses its chill and continue dipping, wringing, and applying as needed.
  • FACT: For acute injuries—that is, sudden trauma—ice helps constrict the blood vessels, decreasing swelling in the area.

You Will Need

  • A bowl
  • Some ice-cold water
  • A clean washcloth
  • Some ice cubes (optional)
  • An ice pack (optional)
  • A towel (optional)

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