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  • Brindley Brooks

Heat vs Cold for Abscesses

We all understand the comfort of using heat, however, using dry heat in the form of heating pads or other dry heat is not recommended for Hidradenitis Suppurativa abscesses. Heat promotes continuous inflammation, which equates to pain, especially with inflammatory conditions.

Cold or ice reduces inflammation and less inflammation equates to less pain and breaking of the inflammation cycle. Opt for cold compresses for inflammation control, although it may not feel as good on the outside, it is the best choice for breaking the inflammation cycle. Caution: Never put ice directly on an abscess, wound, or skin. Always put something down as a barrier such as a cloth or towel.


Moist warm packs or compresses can be especially beneficial when an abscess is close to or ready to drain by helping soften the skin and promote drainage. Below are a few ways to make them at home.

Use one of the following:

  • Clean washcloth

  • Flannel

  • Piece of gauze

  • Unused tea bag

Heat your water using one of the following methods:

*You do not want your compress to be too hot or dripping wet; semi moistened is sufficient*

  • Run your item under hot tap water and squeeze the excess water out.

  • Place a bowl of water in the microwave for about 20 seconds then place your item in the water and wring out.

  • Moisten your item, put it on a clean plate and place it in the microwave for a few seconds until warm.

Place your moist pack on the area you are treating, place a warmer on top and relax. Keep this on for as long and repeat as many times as needed.


One of the challenges is keeping your hot pack at temperature. Here are a few tips on how to keep your moist pack hot. These products are meant to be used on top of one of the suggestions above.

  • Microwavable corn or rice filled heating pads with a washable cover

  • Rubber hot water bottles

  • Round reusable hot packs

  • Heating pad -- microfiber moist heating pad made for water preferred. *Please use caution with an electric heating pad over a wet pack as this can cause electrocution. Please invest in a microfiber moist heat type of heating pad that is specifically made for water (safely).

Use caution when preparing your moist warm packs/compresses, you do not want to burn yourself when removing items from the microwave.


Read more about moist heat and abscesses here.


Content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website.


HSconnect.org


Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen

Edited by Brindley Kons

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