Emergency advice

Cold compress:

Cold pad

  1. Soak flannel in cold water, wring out, and fold.

Ice pack

  1. Use a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a dry cloth.
  2. Hold against injury.
  3. Cool the injury for no more than 10 minutes.   

What is a cold compress?

Cooling an injury like a sprain or bruise can help to reduce the swelling and pain. There are two types of compress: ice packs, and cold pads, which can be made from dampening a cloth with cold water.

What to do

Cold pad

  1. Soak a clean cloth or flannel in cold water. Then wring it out lightly and fold into a pad.

    • Hold it firmly against the injured area
  2. Re-soak the cloth every couple of minutes to keep it cool.

    • Do not cool the injury for more than 10 minutes

Ice pack

  1. Use a pack of frozen vegetables or partly fill a plastic bag using small ice cubes or crushed ice. Wrap the bag in a dry cloth.

  2. Hold the pack on the injury and top up with ice to keep it cool.

    • Do not cool the injury for more than 10 minutes
Did you find this information helpful?

Related first aid advice

How to put on a bandage

Bandages can be used to support injured joints, secure dressings and control bleeding.


Bruises can be painful and tender. Find out what causes bruising and what to do.

How to apply a dressing

When you have a wound, you should always cover it with a dressing as this can help to prevent infection. Find out what to do.

St John Ambulance volunteers providing support