Definition: The alternate application of hot and cold fomentation to a local area.


  • Relieves pain through acceleration of local circulation.
  • Stimulates healing in local injuries with contusions.
  • Relieves muscle stiffness and pain due to trauma and strain.
  • Stimulates healing in wound infections.


  • Infected wound.
  • Local injuries due to trauma and muscular contusions.
  • Muscle stiffness.

Things Needed:

  • Three towels wrung from hot water.
  • Two towels wrung from ice water.
  • Plastic to cover dressings in infected wound.
  • Basin of water with ice cubes.
  • One dry towel.
  • Old newspaper.


  1. Have three fomentation ready (towels wrung from hot water).
  2. Assemble all things needed and assist the patient into a comfortable position.
  3. Cover area to be treated with a dry towel. Use a piece of plastic over the dressing in infected wounds.
  4. Apply the fomentation as hot as can be tolerated for 3 minutes.
  5. Wring a towel from the ice water and apply directly to the area for one minute after removing the fomentation and towel.
  6. Alternately apply the hot fomentation for 3 minutes and the cold compress for one minute. Complete the three hot and cold applications. The last application should be the cold compress. Observe the condition of the area or wound. In infected wounds the dressings may have to be changed. If medication is prescribed on the wound, apply medications and put dressings.
  7. Burn soiled dressings.