Heat or Cold for Headache – A Fastest Way to Get Relief from Pain

Updated on March 16th, 2020
Heat or Cold for Headache

With the introduction of a fast-paced technological world, headaches have become a very typical condition. Returning home after a tiring day at work with a throbbing headache is the worst thing that could happen to you. From stress to not eating on time, headache can be a result of any day to day activity.

For some, popping a pain killer might sound the easiest way to get rid of a headache. But for health freaks, it might be the last thing on the mind. So for those seeking some natural way of out the deadly pain, heat or cold for headache can be the best choice.

Did You Know!

  • In the US, around 20 percent population suffers from migraine.
  • One of the most common types of headache is tension headache and can be treated easily at home.
  • Frequent headaches are not typical, and one should seek medical assistance immediately.

Why Use Heat or Cold for Headache?

Heat or Cold for Headache
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Heat and cold therapies are commonly used for various types of aches, including headaches (1). Elliot, the chief medical officer of EHE, suggests the use of cold packs because it results in constricting blood vessels in the brain and also stops the neurotransmission of pain signals to the brain. If cold packs help treat various other pains and inflammation, then it is logical to use it for headaches as well.

It is also believed that soaking feet in warm water makes your head feel lighter and better. The hot bath draws blood to your feet and results in easing pressure on blood vessels present inside your head.

A hot pack is also helpful for tension headaches as it relaxes the muscles in the back of your neck. Heat or cold for headache is also very effective.

Heat or Cold for Headache

  • Cold Compress

You can use a cold compress(2) to your forehead and eyes. Leave the pack on for 5 to 10 minutes and repeat this process 2-3 times. One might wonder how does ice help with the headache. The ice pack for headache constricts the blood vessels in your head and helps alleviate the pain.

  • Homemade Hot Pack

Some might like to use a hot compress purchased from a medical store, but you can also make your own hot pack using uncooked rice. Take a soak or piece of cloth and fill it with two-third uncooked rice. Tie a knot and place it in the microwave for one minute.

  • Cold Soak for Hands

In a contradictory method, you can also soak your hands in ice-cold water. Continue to open and close your fists to constrict the blood vessels resulting in their dilution.

  • Hot Water Soak for Feet

Another surprising use of heat therapy for headaches is a warm bath for your feet. The hot water draws blood in your feet, resulting in easing of pressure from your head. A pinch of mustard powder added to your warm water also works wonders head pain.

Risks Associated with the Use of Heat or Cold for Headache

Risks Associated with the Use of Hot or Cold for Headache
Image: ShutterStock

Using a hot or cold compress for headaches is generally safe, but some minor precautions can help you save significant troubles. Headaches are tricky as it is challenging to examine the exact cause at first. It can be due to minor tensions or because of some severe conditions like tumors. Whatever the reason may be, you should be cautious while using heat or ice for headaches.

Firstly while using a heat pack or pad on your neck or shoulder area, never leave it on during your sleep. Also, in the case of using a hot water bottle, make sure the bottle of water inside is not too hot. Too hot water can cause burns or spasms on the skin.

Further, avoid applying the heat or cold pack for not more than 20 minutes or on broken or wounded skin.

[ Also Read: Natural Treatments to get rid of Headache ]

When to see a doctor?

Heat or cold compresses are generally safe to use for a headache. In some cases, the therapy might not work, and it might worsen the pain in the head.

In such cases, it is advisable to see a professional healthcare expert or doctor to find out the exact cause. Also, a persistent headache might also be a symptom of some underlying severe conditions, and you should immediately seek medical help in such cases.

Headache is common but can be unbearable at times. Using painkillers might seem an easy way out, but it might result in long-term problems. So seeking home remedies might be your second option.

A cold and hot compress can be used easily with little precautionary measures for headaches. Also, in case of severe headaches, consult a doctor or healthcare experts. Using cold therapy in case of some problems in the circulatory system is also recommended.


1. What are the best home remedies for a headache?

Apart from using medications or pain killers, one can use many natural treatments to cure headaches. For example, using essential oils for headaches helps relieve the pain condition and helps relieve stress. Using drinking coffee and green tea helps with a headache due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Other home remedies include ginger, massage, and apple cider vinegar.

2. How is ginger beneficial for a headache?

Ginger is a natural herb used because of its anti-inflammatory and abortive effects on the pain. It also helps in reducing anxiety associated with migraine because of its prophylactic effects.

  3. Which essential oils are beneficial for a headache?

Essential oils are beneficial for headaches because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint oil is similar to paracetamol on headache and helps treat tension headaches. Lavender oil also helps relieve stress and anxiety associated with migraine.

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