The obvious place for First Aid

Should You Use an Instant Ice Pack or Re-useable Gel Pack?

Benefits of both Instant Ice Packs and the Re-Usable Gel Packs:

Instant Ice Packs and Re-Usable Gel Packs both provide effective methods of cold therapy treatment in acute stages of injury. The use of cold therapy quickly following injury plays a vital role in both treating the injury as well as reducing the recovery times. Instant Cold Packs and Re-usable Gel Packs work by reducing internal bleeding and swelling by constricting the blood vessels in the injured area. Additionally cold therapy assists in easing the pain for the casualty and reducing the swelling of the injured area.

Instant Ice Packs

Instant Ice Packs contain two chemicals within the pack, one of which is contained in an internal pouch. By squeezing the Ice Pack, the pouch is burst allowing the chemicals to create an endothermic reaction. It is this reaction that instantly lowers the temperature of the pack allowing treatment without delay. Typically an Instant Cold Pack provides 20 minutes of cold therapy treatment, although this can vary depending on the ambient temperature of the surrounding environment.

The key advantage of the Instant Ice Pack is that they can be carried in your first aid kit at all-times no matter where you are as they do not need to be kept cool. They can simply be activated when needed and applied to the injured area.

Re-usable Gel Packs

Re-usable Gel Packs (also known as re-usable hot/cold packs) deliver cold therapy treatment by being cooled in the freezer prior to use. Because Ice Packs are frozen they are able to provide cold therapy treatment at lower temperatures than Instant Cold Packs. This can assist in drawing the heat out of the injury faster than with an Instant Ice Pack. Additionally Re-usable Gel Packs provide cold treatment longer than Instant Ice Packs (although it is recommended that cold therapy is delivered in periods up to 15 minutes at a time). Re-usable Gel Packs work by being cooled in the freezer and need to be kept cold until such time that they are needed. As a result, they can be used for providing quick treatment if you are in the proximity of the freezer where they are stored but are not suited for use on the move.

An additional advantage of the Re-usable Gel Packs is that they can be used for delivering cold therapy or hot therapy. The re-usable gel packs can be heated in a bowl of water in a microwave to provide hot therapy treatment which is especially effective in easing aches and pains of muscles and joints.

The re-usable nature of Gel packs means they can be used over and over again simply by placing it back in the freezer or microwave.

Which should I Choose?

Both Instant Ice Packs and Re-usable Gel Packs are effective methods of delivering cold therapy treatment. The decision over which to use really only comes down to your individual situation.

If you need a pack that you can keep in your first aid bag just in case it is needed and are likely to be on the move then the Instant Ice Pack would be the ideal option. If, however you are in a fixed location, such as a gym and have access to a freezer to store a Re-usable Gel Pack then this maybe a good option for you.

A Note of Caution

One thing to remember though, whether you are using an Instant Ice Pack or a Re-usable Gel Pack is that neither should be placed directly onto the skin. A barrier must always be used to prevent cold burns.

There are covers especially designed for use with both the instant and re-usable packs which can provide both a barrier and an effective method of holding the pack in place. Equally, a piece of clothing or tea towel could make an effective barrier between the pack and the casualties’ skin.

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