Decrease swelling, bleeding and inflammation by using a cold compress during the first 48 hours after an injury occurs. The cold restricts circulation and causes blood vessels to constrict to avoid further bleeding. The cold also slightly numbs the skin tissue, aiding in pain relief. Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, is commonly used in first aid and sports injuries. Save money by creating a cold compress at home, instead of buying one. Cold compresses take a few minutes to make and can be stored in the freezer.
Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes. Add a small amount of water to help the ice cubes melt slightly. Use enough water to barely cover the ice, suggests Healthwise, an online health resource guide. Squeeze the air from the bag and seal shut. Place the bag inside another plastic bag to avoid spills and drips when the ice begins to melt.
Run a clean washcloth under cool water; squeeze out any excess water. Place ice cubes in a bowl and fill with water. Submerge the washcloth in the bowl and allow to cool. Wait several minutes so the washcloth can get as cold as possible. Wrap the washcloth around the pack of ice.
Place the ice pack against the skin for up to 15 minutes; repeat up to four times a day. Have a dry towel handy; as the ice pack warms, it will begin to wet the area and drip.
Use a bag of frozen vegetables, if a cold pack is needed immediately. Apply bags of frozen peas or corn; the vegetables are small and mold well to the body.
Make a smaller cold press, used for inside the mouth and other small areas, by only using the cold washcloth. Soak the washcloth in ice water. Fold the washcloth and use a small corner to make the cold compress. Continually resoak the washcloth in the bowl of ice water. Use gauze for extremely small compresses that can be placed directly in the mouth.
Never apply an ice pack directly to bare skin to avoid further injury.