Ice and heat can be used to lessen the pain of headaches. In general, most sufferers with migraine headache prefer cold packs. Sufferers with tension-type or muscle contraction headaches may prefer warm packs. It depends on the individual sufferer. The same cold or warm principles apply to showers.
Caution should be exercised in using warm packs or showers to ensure that they are not too hot. Overly hot showers or packs can sometimes cause the opposite effect desired by inducing muscle spasm and, in extreme cases, cause burns. Do not fall asleep with a heating pad on. Alternate ice for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.
Cold packs should be applied on forehead and temples, warm packs on neck and posterior part of head.
Some over-the-counter products (Mentholatum Migraine Ice, Excedrin Cooling Pads) are available that apply a warm or cold feeling to the skin. These can be worn during a headache attack.
Hot and cold treatments can be used safely in addition to medications and other therapies recommended by your healthcare provider.