Warm compresses are useful for temporarily relieving discomfort caused by dryness, irritation and redness in the eye area. Some causes of eye discomfort are bacterial infections, viral infections, sinusitis, conjunctivitis, dermatitis, rosecea, styes, blepharitis and allergies. See your doctor if you experience eye discomfort, especially if it involves inflammation, pain or vision disturbances, which can be indicators of a more serious eye condition. Your doctor may recommend the use of warm eye compresses in addition to medication and other treatments.
Wash your hands with soap and water so you do not transfer bacteria onto the compress.
Fold a clean, soft washcloth in thirds lengthwise.
Fill a medium size bowl with lukewarm tap water.
Submerge the folded washcloth in the lukewarm water to moisten it.
Bend forward over a sink. Remove the folded washcloth from the bowl of water. Without wringing out the washcloth, press it gently against your closed eyes. Resubmerge the washcloth in the bowl of lukewarm water every few 10 seconds to keep it warm. Reapply the warm compress to your eyes about 20 times, or for five minutes.
If you prefer to lie down while using the warm compress, gently wring the washcloth out to remove excess water before laying it over your closed eyes. Bring the bowl of water with you to the area you will be lying down at, so that you can regularly resubmerge the compress to keep it warm.
The best time to use warm eye compresses is upon waking in the morning and right before bed, and 30 minutes before applying eye medications, according to the Rand Eye Institute.
Launder the compress after use to prevent the spread of germs. This is especially important if you have a contagious eye condition such as conjunctivitis, more commonly called, pinkeye.
Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.