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Ice Pack Application

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

How is ice helpful?

Ice can be used to decrease swelling and pain after an injury or surgery. Common injuries that may benefit from ice therapy are sprains, strains, and bruises. The use of ice is most effective in the first 1 to 3 days after an injury.

How should I apply ice?

  • Fill a bag with crushed ice about half full. Remove the air from the bag before you close it. You can also use a bag of frozen vegetables.
  • Wrap the ice pack in a cloth to protect your skin from frostbite or other injury.
  • Put the ice over the injured area for 20 to 30 minutes or as long as directed.
  • Check your skin after about 30 seconds for color changes or blistering. Remove the ice if you notice skin changes or you feel burning or numbness in the area.
  • Throw the ice pack away after use.
  • Apply ice to your injured area 4 times each day or as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how many days you should apply ice.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You see blisters, whitening of your skin, or a bluish color to your skin after using ice.
  • You feel burning or numbness when using ice.
  • You have questions about the use of ice packs.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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