How should I heat my head?
September 4, 2016 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I really like microwavable hot packs (often a sock filled with grain). I also really like hot wet washcloths. They work great on tension headaches and the little muscles in my head. But they don't last very long - certainly not long enough for me to use one to heat all the different places in my head that want heating. Do you have any suggestions for long-lasting heat for my head muscles?

I love saunas, but I'm probably never going to have a full-sized sauna at my house.

I've tried things like this heating pad, but they always top out too cool to get my muscles to relax.

Should I build myself a small head-sized sauna? Or sew a headcovering filled with grain and heat that up? Is there an electric pad that gets hot enough? Or something else entirely?
posted by freyley to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I use this for headaches, microwaved for 2:45. It's super hot for a few minutes and then cools slowly over a half hour or so. It's way better than a hot washcloth or a heating pad, highly recommend.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 4:14 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Look into infrared therapy lights - a single bulb is enough. My father-in-law swears by them. I found this page very helpful when setting it up at our place.
posted by The Toad at 5:06 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest the Thermophore heating pad. You mention you like moist heat: the pad it's wrapped in somehow manages to produce & trap moist heat, on its own -- even more, if you slip a damp towel inside. I used to have the heating pad you linked to, and the Thermophore works similarly (you plug it in) but it's a definite upgrade in quality. After lots of research and testing -- I get headaches all the time, too -- it's my favourite so far, and I use it a lot.

It's more expensive than what you'd buy at the store, but it definitely works better, so it might be worth it for you. The one I linked to could easily wrap around your entire head, given its size. There's a smaller, cheaper neck/head sized one, too.

My other suggestion, but only if you're willing to spend a couple hundred dollars, is a Hydrocollator. Might be overkill if you only have headaches; I bought one, but to treat full-body chronic pain. Hydrocollators are those machines physiotherapy offices use, and they produce the best moist heat. It's like a little mini portable sauna pack -- it actually is, literally, moist. The machine is a small tank of water that heats special clay hot packs you place inside it. This pack size might be a good shape for the head/neck.
posted by stellarc at 5:25 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

+1 for infrared lamp. You can get them in a floor standing model like this that be pointed in the direction you like so you can adjust it to the position you're relaxing in. Ive had it them used on me on acupuncture and physiotherapy when I had back problems and it's a pleasant directed heat exactly where I need it. When moist heat is needed the physiotherapist places a damp towel on me before the lamp.
posted by Karaage at 5:31 PM on September 4, 2016

I bought one of these hot/cold packs while on vacation, not really expecting much, but I wound up taking it home and using it a lot. It stays pretty hot for at least 30 minutes, though I see some of the reviews vary on that point. It's cheap and pretty convenient, and it always feels sort of like a moist heat to me regardless of whether I've got a damp towel on it.
posted by lemonadeheretic at 7:31 PM on September 4, 2016

If you need heat for really extended periods, Hot Hands might be an option. They are chemical handwarmers that take about 30 minutes to warm up. You do have to shake vigorously to get the chemical reaction going, which may be annoying if you have a headache. But in my experience they stay hot for at least four hours, and warm for at least eight hours. I once opened a pack on my way to work, used it off and on all day, and found it to be still a bit warm 9 hours later on my way home. For longevity they really can't be beat. Plus each pack contains two warmers, so you'd be able to cover different parts of your head/neck at once.
posted by Owlcat at 10:36 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thermacare wraps are amazing. The heat lasts a long time, and they are easy to find at Target or Walgreens.
posted by Vatnesine at 5:58 AM on September 5, 2016

I wonder if this heated hair cap would work for you. I have a similar one to set hair color, and it can get hot in there!
posted by skydog13 at 8:46 AM on September 5, 2016

Agree about Thermacare wraps. You might need to get a little creative because they have adhesive that you wouldn't want stuck to your hair, but they last 8+ hours and are quite hot.
posted by radioamy at 11:06 AM on September 5, 2016

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