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What is an Ice Bandage?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 17, 2024
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An ice bandage is a bandage that uses cold temperature to help heal injuries. One of the key functions of an ice bandage is to help reduce swelling. In some cases, the bandage is simply a packet of cold material that is wrapped about the injured body part. In other cases, it is part of the bandage and is designed to fit against the body. It is quite common for an ice bandage to be used to treat a sports-related injury.

There are a number of kinds of ice bandages on the market. Some must be placed in a refrigerator or freezer to cool before being used. Others can create a cooling sensation on the offending body part without being cooled in a refrigerator. These are the key differences in the technology of an ice bandage. The key differences in the design of an ice bandage have to do with the ways in which they close. Some brands close using Velcro®, others close with a clasp.

It make good sense to keep an ice bandage on hand in a home first aid kit to deal with injuries that involve swelling. The types of injuries that can require the application of a cold compress include sprains, strained muscles, injuries that are the result of overuse, and bruises. By reducing swelling, an ice bandage can help to reduce pain. Furthermore, the low temperature can help to numb the area.

As many of the injuries that require cold compress treatment are related to physical activity, it is especially useful to keep an ice bandage in a home first aid kit if the home includes children or adults who are very active. An ice bandage is also a good item to keep in one's mobile first aid kit, especially if that kit is taken on outings that include hiking, camping, long distance running, biking, and similar physical activities. They can also be brought to kids' sports games to have on hand in case of injury.

Although these kinds of bandages are very useful to have on hand, it is important to have a medical professional address any injuries that are moderate to severe. Also, when in doubt about whether to use a warm compress or cold compress, consult a doctor or nurse before doing either. Using the wrong temperature can exacerbate the problem and increase the severity of an injury.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On May 18, 2014

I have used ice bandages a few times in the past. They definitely helped and I think they are a must have for emergency kits for on-the-go first aid. Sports teams need to have these in their kit. But I don't think that these are the best products out there for cold therapy at home because they are very wet. I'm not sure what they're made of, but I think they create the cool sensation with the use of water. So either they are wet or they need to be wet in order to stay cold after a few hours.

By stoneMason — On May 17, 2014

@bluedolphin-- Ice bandages (or "ice tape") is great! I highly recommend this type of product if you get injured often and experience pain and swelling. Yes, they really cool the area and the one I use lasts for at least an hour which I think is very good.

The ice bandage I have just looks like very long tape. It's very cold and also has menthol. I usually have problems with my ankles so I wrap the tape around my ankle and lie down. The inflammation and pain disappears soon afterward.

I think that ice bandages are much better than ice packs or instant cold packs because I don't have to hold them in place and I don't have to freeze them.

By bluedolphin — On May 17, 2014

I had heard of cold wraps before, which is basically a wrap with a pocket to insert an ice pack. But this is the first time I'm hearing about an ice bandage. I think the idea is great, but do these bandages really work? I mean, do they really cool the area and how long do they last?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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