A warm compress is a traditional home remedy which has been used from generations for treating mild ailments. Medical professionals and doctors recommend it for managing certain conditions.
A clean cloth is soaked in warm water and is applied and compressed on the skin, wound and other areas of the body.
This is a process where heat and moisture blend together and help in alleviating inflammation, pain and other minor issues.
A warm compress may also help in treating the symptoms of dry eye, itchiness, red eye, styes, and other eye infections.
It is very simple and easy to use a warm compress. Warm compress is good for the eyes because it improves circulation, soothes inflammation, and unclogs swollen eyelids.
Warmth is known to provide a healing and soothing effect on our body. It helps in relieving pain, increases circulation, relaxes spasms of the muscles, and helps in wound healing. Warm and cold compresses are applied to various injuries because they help our body to restore itself.
The same is true for the eyes too. If you have an issue with your eye, there are two types of warm compresses that can be used.
Moist warmth is a method where you soak a cloth in some warm water and apply it to the affected area. This is the best way to treat pain caused to the muscles, resulting from strained eyes(1).
Dry warmth, which is achieved through things like hot water bottles or heating pads wrapped in fabric. This means there is no moisture present and only warmth.
Do not use a commercial heat pack for your eyes. They are very large, bulky and heavy. You might not feel comfortable having them on the eye. There is also a chance that these packs can leak and chemicals released out of them could enter your eye. This could have very serious consequences and might lead to a medical emergency. So, it is good to avoid these packs.
A warm compress is incredibly beneficial if you suffer from Blepharitis or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). If you suffer from either of these conditions, debris and dirt form on your eyelashes and in the corner of your eyes.
By applying a warm compress, and particularly a moist one, you will be able to loosen the debris, enabling it to be removed easily. Sometimes, the debris and dirt are so hard that if you try to remove it by hand, you would actually pull out some of your eyelashes.
Warm compresses are also beneficial for dry eye syndrome (DES)(2). People who suffer from DES either have insufficient tear production or, more commonly, the quality of their tears is sub-standard.
Dry eye syndrome is a situation where people either have insufficient production of tears or poor-quality tears (No lipids in the tears)
Using a warm compress on your eye stimulates the glands of the eyes and encourage to produce more lipids, which keeps the eyes moisturized, thus relieving the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome.
How to Apply a Warm Compress
It is very important that you use the right compress that will benefit you. You should also know to use it in such a way that you reap maximum benefits out of it.
The 2 most important things you need for this is
- Sterile water
- A clean and dry cloth
- Firstly, clean your hand thoroughly with an antibacterial soap. Ensure that even your nails are clean, otherwise, the dirt from the nails might get deposited on the compress and enter the eyes.
- Take a clean and dry cloth which is soft and fold it into a rectangle.
- Add 1 liter of clean water into a bowl. Turn on the heat and let the water boil. Wait till the water cools to such a temperature where you can bear the heat.
- Now, soak the cloth completely in the warm water. Now, you will observe that the cloth is also warm.
Wring the washcloth out, lie down, and cover your eyes with it. Leave the cloth there for around 15 minutes. This is an effective way to relax and rest your eyes.
Don’t wring the washcloth out, but press it against your closed eyes for about 10 seconds, put it back in the water, and repeat.
You can apply a warm compress as often as you like. However, the best time to do this is when you have just woken up from sleep, particularly if you have a buildup of gunk in your eyes. This will help you to loosen it up for easy removal. Doing it just before you go to sleep is also a good habit, particularly as it will prepare your eyes to relax, and it will remove the gunk and debris you have built up during the day.
If you have to use eye medication, you should make sure there is at least a time gap of half an hour between applying the compress and applying the medication.