Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Using Ice and Cold Packs
Ice and cold packs can relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation
from injuries and other conditions, such as arthritis.
Apply an ice or cold
pack to the injured or sore area at least 3 times a day for as long as you have
pain, swelling, and inflammation. For the first 72 hours, ice for 10 minutes,
once an hour. After that, use ice for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 times a day: in the
morning, in the late afternoon after work or school, and about one-half hour
before bedtime. Also, ice after any prolonged activity or vigorous
Always keep a cloth between your
skin and the ice pack, and press firmly against all the curves of the affected
area. Do not apply ice for longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and do not
fall asleep with the ice on your skin.
Commercial cold packs are
too heavy and bulky for use on or around the eye. Be careful around the eye to
prevent a chemical burn to the eye if a pack leaks.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.