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The Soothing Benefits of Warm Compress on the Eyes
There are many benefits of warm compress on the eyes. Read this article to find out what they are and how it helps.
The practice of using warm compresses for certain aches and pains goes way back. It works by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation. In some cases, it also draws out fluid caused by infections.
For example, after a grueling workout, your leg muscle is sore. Applying a warm compress promotes faster healing and lessens pain. Using one also helps ease stomach cramps when it’s that time of the month.
But remember not to use a warm compress on fresh injuries. This means open wounds. Or right after sustaining an injury to your muscles or bones (like a sprain).
Yup. A warm compress is a versatile home remedy. It helps ease discomfort in various parts of your body, including your eyes.
This article lists the different benefits of warm compress on the eyes. It also discusses how to make and use one. And introduces you to the convenient and more effective version, the steam eye mask.
Here are the questions it answers:
What is a warm compress?
At its most basic, a warm compress is a piece of cloth heated up, folded and applied to the affected area. There are two types: a moist warm compress and a dry one.
When it comes to using one on your eyes, moist heat applies to most benefits listed in this article. And for the record, it's more effective than a dry warm compress in general, according to Healthline(1).
How to Make and Use a Moist Warm Compress
Making a DIY warm compress is simple enough. But using one can get tedious.
Prepare a clean hand towel.
Pour warm water into a clean bowl (don’t use scalding hot or boiling water).
Soak the cloth and wring it to remove any excess water.
Fold the cloth into a square.
Place it gently on your eyes. When the heat wears off, repeat the process.
Note that if your eye issue is infectious, you’ll need to prepare several clean towels and bowls.
Don’t add anything to the water like Epsom salts or essential oils. These could burn the delicate skin around your eyes. Not to mention irritate them more.
There’s another method of making a moist warm compress that keeps it hot for longer. It’s called the bundle method. But we aren’t going to lie. It isn’t as easy as the first. Optometry Times says this is how it’s done(2):
Set aside 5 microfiber towels and a microwave-safe container with a lid.
Dip or wet the towels in water just enough to make them damp.
Wring or squeeze them of all excess water.
Fold each cloth lengthwise thrice to create a rectangle.
Roll the first towel in a cylinder, then wrap the remaining towels around it to create a bundle.
Put the bundle in the container and put the lid on.
Heat it in the microwave for 50 seconds — up to 1 minute depending on its wattage.
Remove the container from the microwave and let it cool.
Test the heat with the back of your wrist.
When it’s comfortably warm (emphasis on comfort), peel off the first towel layer.
Make sure to put the remaining towels back in the covered dish to make sure the heat doesn’t escape.
Apply the first towel to the affected area and replace it with a new one every 2 minutes.
But before you grab a warm compress, here’s when you shouldn’t be using one. Again, never use it on fresh injuries. This applies to open wounds and immediately after muscles or bones are injured.
Why is a steam eye mask a better alternative to a warm compress?
A DIY warm compress is great if you need moist heat therapy STAT. But an eye mask made for moist heat therapy is more convenient. Results are more consistent and it spares you the heavy lifting. Not to mention the mess.
It also makes more sense if you have an eye issue that’s infectious, such as pinkeye. A steam eye mask is a personal item. It’s easier to say “Hands off” than disinfect towels. Or throwing them away to prevent others from using them. In the long run, a steam eye mask is the cheaper alternative.
An excellent steam eye mask should give the wearer moist heat therapy. And warm compression, as well. It should deliver relief with safety, comfort and effectiveness all considered.
Manta STEAM Mask
Why not try our steam sleep mask? It’s engineered to be near blackout and give soothing and warm relief. Perfect for restorative naps. We’re serious when we say it's the most effective steam mask out there. If you’re curious, read our guide on how to use a steam eye mask.
Its steamy secret lies in the eye cups, which contain self-hydrating zeolite beads. These draw moisture from the air. When heated in the microwave for 20 seconds, they give off 100% natural steam.
They also stay warm for a little over 10 minutes, so you don’t risk exposing your eyes to heat for too long.
Each eye cup has an indentation in its center so you don’t feel any direct pressure on your eyes. They’re also slightly heavier than our typical eye cups. We designed them this way so the surrounding eye area gets the warm compression it needs.
They’re also fully adjustable. Position them anywhere within the interior of the mask’s head strap. Each cup is backed with a hook fastener for this purpose.
Manta STEAM Mask gives all the benefits of a warm compress on the eyes. Speaking of, that’s what you’re going to learn about next.
What are the benefits of a warm compress on the eyes?
Apart from the fact that it plain feels good, a warm compress eases symptoms of a couple of eye issues.
Rule of thumb. Always consult with your eye doctor before using a warm compress or steam eye mask. Get professional advice on what eye issue you actually have instead of second-guessing. Your eyes, after all, are some of the most delicate organs of your body.
Hydrates and Soothes Dry Eyes
Dry eyes happen for many reasons. Count in air pollution, contact lenses, LASIK surgery and even lack of sleep. The symptoms include dry, itchy and scratchy eyes or feeling like there’s something in there. In worse cases, there’s even discharge.
If you’re suffering from mild dry eye, a warm compress or a steam eye mask helps open eye glands that secrete oil. Leave it for up to 10 minutes. It also helps strengthen your tear film. Also, it prevents your tears from evaporating too fast. Believe it or not, tears are a good thing (in this sense).
According to Optometrists Network, a moist warm compress also helps clean the area, too(3).
Loosens Discharge From Pinkeye
Pinkeye is also known as conjunctivitis. It's an infection of the clear membrane that covers your eyes. It’s usually viral or bacterial but can result from an allergic reaction.
As its name suggests, it causes the whites of your eyes to turn pinkish or reddish. Symptoms include grittiness and itchiness, too. There’s also a sticky-icky discharge, which turns into a crust, making it hard for you to open your eyes when you wake up.
NYULangone Health says that applying moist heat lessens discharge and loosens the crust. If you want to reduce inflammation and itchiness, a cold compress is your go-to(4). Apply the warm compress for 5 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day.
Pinkeye is highly contagious, which is why it’s better to have a steam eye mask you can call your own.
Drains Styes and Chalazions
A stye is like an eye pimple only more. It’s a red bump that appears on the eyelid. It's usually caused by an oil gland getting blocked and consequently, infected. A Chalazion, on the other hand, is like a stye but usually not as painful or considered an infection.
Styes can happen on your inner and outer eyelid. Either way, they’re painful and there’s also pus. A warm compress or a steam eye mask helps by shrinking the stye. Apply it for 10 minutes 3 to 5 times a day for several days.
The moist heat causes the stye to rupture and expel the pus. It’s gross but a good thing because once the pus is gone, the infection will heal. Oh, and the last thing you want to do is use your fingers.
It works the same way for a chalazion. The American Optometric Association recommends a warm compress for 10 to 15 minutes up to 6 times a day, for a few days(5).
Helps with MGD and Blepharitis
The benefits of a warm compress on the eyes ease symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and blepharitis.
MGD is when the eye glands that produce oil don’t do so enough because the glands are plugged up. Either that or the quality of the oil is poor. It's no small thing as we mentioned earlier in this article. This oil coats your tear film and slows down the tear evaporation process. And when this isn’t done right, you get dry eyes and even blurred vision.
Eyeworld says that a warm compress or “eyelid warming” is effective for mild to moderate MGD(6). Applying a moist warm compress for 10 minutes may stabilize the tear film by thickening its lipid layer. It also helps melt any blockage.
On the other hand, bacteria causes blepharitis. A simple way to explain it is dandruff of the eyelids (again, it’s much more than that). Crusty skin flakes appear on the lashes. Other symptoms include watery, itchy eyes, light sensitivity and swollen eyelids. When left untreated, blepharitis leads to blurry vision, eyelash shedding, and swelling in other areas.
Apply a warm and moist compress for about 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. This will help loosen the crust. After which you’ll need to clean your lids.
Relaxes Tense Eye Muscles From Eyestrain
We saved the most common benefit of a warm compress on the eyes for last. Our eyes take a toll from daily activities like too much screen time. Reading or driving for long periods of time can also cause eye strain. Symptoms include sore, burning, itchy and tired eyes. You may also experience headaches and blurred vision.
Applying a warm compress eases muscle tension and relaxes your eyes. A steam sleep mask is even better. It helps your eyes get the rest they need while blocking out light.
We listed quite a lot of benefits of a warm compress on the eyes, don’t you agree? Apart from these, a steam eye mask has other uses. For one, it helps with migraine pain when used alternately with a cold compress. It also helps open your sinus passages and lessen swelling from sinusitis.
Now go get the soothing relief that only moist heat therapy and a restorative nap bring.
Still need convincing? Read our article: Do Steam Eye Masks Work?
(1) “How to Make a Dry or Moist Warm Compress.” Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/how-to-make-a-warm-compress. Accessed 18 November 2022.
(2) “Using warm compresses to treat meibomian gland disease.” Optometry Times, www.appliedbehavioranalysisedu.org/what-is-deep-pressure-stimulation/. Accessed 21 November 2022.
(3) “Can Warm Compresses Help Dry Eyes?” Optometrists Network, www.optometrists.org/general-practice-optometry/guide-to-eye-conditions/dry-eye/natural-remedies-for-dry-eyes/can-warm-compresses-help-dry-eyes/. Accessed 22 November 2022.
(4) “Home Treatments for Conjunctivitis.” NYULangone Health, nyulangone.org/conditions/conjunctivitis/treatments/home-treatments-for-conjunctivitis. Accessed 23 November 2022.
(5) “Chalazion.” American Optometric Association, www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/chalazion?sso=y. Accessed 23 November 2022.
(6) “How effective is lid warming for meibomian gland dysfunction?” EyeWorld, www.eyeworld.org/2015/how-effective-is-lid-warming-for-meibomian-gland-dysfunction/. Accessed 23 November 2022.
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