Dry vs moist heat – which is better

You may have a lot of questions about helpful methods of pain relief. The most common is about cold or hot therapies. Should you use the cold or hot pack? Which is better: dry heat versus moist heat therapy?  How long should I use the heating pad? What is moist heat? We are here to help you discover all the benefits of such treatment and help you to start a pain-free life. Thermal heat therapy is very helpful for treating chronic lower back pain and tension in muscles. Heat therapy products are often used in place of surgery and other pain treatments. However, you should use it carefully. The pain can worsen if misused. There are many different types of heating pad products, such as heating gel packs, thermal heating pads, wraps, heating towels, electric heating pads, and more. But when should you use a hot pack? Is moist heat therapy useful? It’s very important to know everything before treatment. Let’s figure everything out together.

What is heat therapy

Heat therapy is the use of heat for treatment purposes. Thermotherapy is extremely popular throughout the world and beneficial. The heat used increases the blood flow, bringing proteins and oxygen in the areas where it applies. The overall benefits of heat therapy are very prevalent. This therapy method is helpful to decrease joint stiffness, reduce pain, inflammation, relieve muscle spasms, and just relax after a long day. Heat therapy is also used in the treatment of muscle spasm, myofascial pain, and the general musculoskeletal discomforts associated with immobility and debility.

Types of heat therapy

The moist and dry heat are the two popular types of heat therapy.

  • Dry heat: In dry heat therapy equipment such as electric heating pads and saunas, is used to draw out moisture from the body. But, in some cases, it may leave the skin dehydrated. However, some people feel that dry heat is the easiest to apply and feels the best.
  • Moist heat: In moist heat therapy equipment such as hot baths or moist heating packs can aid in the heat’s penetration into the muscles. Some people believe that moist heat provides better pain relief and relaxation.

A specific type of heat therapy may feel better for one person than for another. Therefore, it is important to consult with your doctor to figure out which one works best for your own needs. There are many different options for heat to be applied exist. We put together more popular types.

Electric heating pad

In this simple heat therapy, heating pads come in different sizes, and the electric heating pad is plugged in an electric outlet. The electric heating pad has an advantage of radiating a constant heat as long as it plugged. It is considered to be the best heat treatment as you are going to feel the positive impact in just days.

Hot water bottle

This is a great option for those who like the easiest way of heat treatment. You can sit on the couch watching TV at night, or working at a desk all day and need a fast relaxation option You will achieve it with a hot bottle. These typically maintain their temperature for approximately 20-30 minutes.

Heated gel packs

This type of heat treatment is close to the hot water bottle. You can buy these packs in most pharmacies. They can be warm for 30 minutes after activation in a microwave. Some heated gel packs may also deliver moist heat. Some people prefer such an option more. It may be microwaved, or sometimes heated in water. Certain types of gel packs provide moist heat, which some people prefer.

Heat wraps

It is a type of heat therapy that is done on a low level. You can use it under clothes directly against the skin, which can be really comfortable for many people. Typically, they will be wrapped around the lower back and waist. Heat wraps provide a few hours of low-level heat application.

Caution: be careful if you have sensitive skin!

Hot bath

A hot bath is liquid psychotherapy. It is not only good to get rid of the pain. But also, to calm down and get a peaceful sleep. Once you’ve started a bath, you feel insulated from your troubles. The ritual, though, is safe and soothing. The heat dominates your awareness and forces out other thoughts. You’re sluggish while your body temperature drifts back to normal, and you recover from the wet-noodle exhaustion. It is a type of relaxation.

Sauna or a steam bath

It tends to stimulate general feelings of comfort and relaxation that may help reduce muscle spasm and pain. A whirlpool jet directed at the lower back may provide the added benefit of a light massage.

Please note: the heat should not be used in certain circumstances. Do not use if you suffer from dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, open wound, or severe cognitive impairment.

What is dry heat good for

Heat therapy can be a great treatment for those who suffer from chronic pain. Warm temperature therapy aids in muscle relaxation and ease pain, alleviate stiffness of sore joints. The application of heat therapy to sore, painful joints and muscles successfully promotes enhanced circulation and blood flow to the region.  This flood of fresh, oxygenated blood can likewise assist with reducing pain as it can slow down the development of lactic acidic waste, which additionally is a factor in constant pain. It will be extremely helpful for those who suffer from:

  • osteoarthritis
  • strains and sprains
  • tendonitis, or chronic irritation and stiffness in the tendons
  • help to warm up stiff muscles or tissue before activity
  • help to relieve pain or spasms relating to neck or back injury, including the lower back.

Note: when using heat therapy, be careful to avoid burns. Place insulation between the heat source and skin, and make sure you monitor your time of use

Benefits of dry heating pads

Some people opt for dry heat therapy products. The reason is that they find them easier and more comfortable to use. However, if your skin is sensitive or dry, the dry heat can cause the skin’s dehydration. On the other hand, the dry heat can last longer than moist heat heating pads. Some people feel that dry heat is the easiest to apply. Plus, a lot of people believe dry heat feels the best.

What is moist heat good for

Most experts prefer to recommend moist heat therapy due to the benefits it gives. This type of therapy won’t dehydrate the skin. The moist heat therapy is perfect for people with dry or aging skin who are concerned for skin irritation, and it penetrates deeper into the skin. Which is why the pain will leave you faster. The moist therapy also increases tissue elasticity. Some moist heat therapy products include steam towels, hot baths, moist heating packs, and gel packs.

Benefits of moist heating pads

A lot of people believe that moist heat is more effective than dry heat causes it to provide deeper penetration of the tissue at the same temperature. Moist heat can also change the tissue temperature rapidly and obtain a more vigorous response from temperature receptors. An electric moist heating pad can speed recovery by increasing blood flow to the targeted area. Increased circulation brings in fresh blood and takes away the wastes, which may slow healing. Moist heat offers greater relief of symptoms.

Are wet heating pads helpful

It is important to use heat therapy correctly to get all the benefits from it. Wet heating pads are a mix of disposable heating pads and electric heating pads. They are also may be called a hybrid, and they are extremely useful. Such pads will help you to achieve maximum results in minimum time. Hybrid hot pads often come with a comfortable, fabric sleeve and can double as a heated pillow. The pad is extremely effective and ensures a quick pain relief by drawing moisture from the air and directing it right into your skin.  Plus, you do not need to add the water into the pad, because it works totally on the air humidity. This is why such pads, unlike dry ones, permeate into the skin more deeply. As a result, they not only speed up the recovery process but also improve blood circulation. The wet heating pads are really helpful. What can they do?

Relieves soreness

Such therapy successfully provides deep relaxation, comfort, and reassurance by taking the edge off of several kinds of body pain. It is not a secret that after a workout, we can feel soreness. It can also come from over-exertion. Heat therapy can relieve this pain and soreness forcing the muscles to relax. This is also why heat therapy can stop muscle spasms as well.

Soothe body stiffness

Body stiffness can occur for many reasons. The most common is sleeping in a wrong and uncomfortable position. Stiffness can cause a lack of mobility and a painful feeling. Heat therapy can help this by providing a warm, comforting sensation. A heating pad and light stretching combined can ease the pain of muscle stiffness.

Heals injuries

Heat also helps increase blood flow throughout the body. Increased blood flow can heal injuries faster and help relieve the pain you are feeling from an acute injury.

Ease stress and tension

Stress and tension throughout the body go hand in hand. Heat can help relieve the tension in these muscles. Heat therapy is a great way to ease stress by relaxing the body. The warmth provides added comfort and a soothing feeling to the affected area.

To see more benefits and opportunities of wet heating pads you can read our article ‘Heat and cold therapy for pain relief’

Benefits of hybrid heating pads

As we have told you, heating pads are perfect for everyone because they can provide both dry and moist therapies. They are microwavable and reusable, which are more convenient to use and maintain. Hybrid heating pads are safe to sleep with and have an adequate price. Such heating pads are last for years and provide longer-lasting heat therapy. Because of their opportunity to increase blood flow, the recovery will be faster than ever. The increased blood flow brings into the target area fresh blood and takes away the wastes which may slow healing. Often greater relief of symptoms compared to many moist heating pads. They provide deeper penetration of the tissue at the same temperature as other heat packs.

How to use a moist heating pad

You should be careful with any heating pad from those who have water or gel to the electric one. Any heating pad needs a layer in between the source and your body. This will help you to avoid skin burning. You may see your physiotherapist using a hydrocollator, which heats pads in a thermostatically controlled water bath. Any source of moist heat should be monitored throughout to ensure the skin does not overheat. You shouldn’t use heat therapy when the injured area is bruised, swollen or the skin is broken or hot to the touch.

Dry heat vs. wet heat: who is a winner

Do you know that alternating heat and wet heat is also effective? Contrast water therapy uses both heat and cold to treat pain. Heat is useful for relieving osteoarthritis, strains and sprains, warming up stiff muscles or tissue before activity, relieving pain or spasms relating to neck or back injury (including the lower back). Cold treatment, in turn, can help in cases of a recent injury, gout, or irritation in the tendons following activity. So, the use of heat and cold therapy are extremely useful. But it is very important to consult with your doctor regarding all types of home treatment. Take care!

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