People sometimes look past the purchase of an ice wrap to simply save some cash. Some individuals use ice in a washcloth, a bag of frozen peas, some even just use ice in a plastic wrap. The problem with these methods of icing is that many of them don’t include safety measures to avoid “cryoburn” to the skin.
Cryoburn occurs when an area of the body’s skin is exposed to ice or other objects with subfreezing temperatures for an extended period of time. Similar to a burn from heat, the skin will typically start to become red, swollen, and uncomfortable. Essentially this is the beginning of frostbite to the area. Some individuals may develop a burn sooner than others due to their skin sensitivity, however without taking the correct precautions eventually any exposure to subfreezing objects can result in a burn.
Ice pack products designed specifically for the recovery of injured areas of the body are made with this in mind. Most of the ice packs have micromesh netting, thermal insulation, or other protective layers keeping the skin from developing a cryoburn within their suggested length of time in use. Of course even with these measures it is possible to develop a burn to the skin from ice. It is suggested that cold therapy on an injury is always monitored and ice wraps are removed if the skin becomes irritated.
Follow some simple rules to keep your skin protected: Never place ice directly on the skin, always keep a layer of material between your skin and ice. Never allow the product to stay on the injury for more than 20 minutes at a time. Don’t fall asleep with a product on the injury as this can be harmful because most ice wraps can stay cold for up to two whole hours. If skin has been overexposed to ice and appears red and swollen, submerge the area in lukewarm water for 10 to 15 minutes, this will help return the area to the body’s natural temperature and reduce the chance of a burn.
For more help, refer to our Pain Relief Health Articles