As discussed in pervious articles, heat therapy can be very effective in reducing pain and stiffness in certain hand injuries or illnesses – such as arthritis. Heat therapy can also help speed up recovery and restore function in the hand and joints when used properly.
One affordable and effective form of at-home heat therapy for hands is paraffin wax treatment. In this article Bloomfield Hills hand specialist Dr. Uzma Rehman explains how paraffin wax heat therapy can help heal or soothe your hand injury and alleviate stiffness and pain.
How Does Paraffin Wax Bath Heat Therapy Treat Hand Pain?
Paraffin wax is a type of wax used for candles, crayons, and to seal jars during canning. A paraffin wax bath is a relatively low-cost device that can be purchased online or from medical supply companies. It is basically a small tub that plugs in and melts paraffin wax – heating it to the appropriate temperature for coating sore hands (or feet).
The hand (or foot) is submerged in the warm, melted wax and is completely covered. It may be recommended by a hand specialist like Dr. Rehman, or a hand physical therapist for relief of other medical or post-surgical hand problems, as well.
The warm temperature of a paraffin wax bath can provide relief from:
other mobility issues
NOTE: Paraffin hand wax should NOT be used if you have open wound, cuts, loss of sensation, or numbness that makes you unable to detect the degree of heat. Do not use paraffin wax heat treatment if you have poor blood circulation. Always discuss this treatment with your doctor before trying paraffin wax therapy at home.
How to Use Paraffin Wax Bath Heat Therapy for Hand Pain
Always choose a place in your home where the paraffin wax unit can be set up safely – out of reach of pets and children, and where there is no flammable materials and no danger of tipping. Typically, paraffin wax units can remain set up and plugged in at all times, for use throughout the day. Follow manufacturers instructions and be sure to turn it off when leaving the house or going to sleep.
Always follow your doctors orders and the manufacturer’s instructions! However, typically, a paraffin wax hand bath will include the following steps:
Wash your hands with soap and water and thoroughly dry them.
Rub lotion onto hands to facilitate easy wax removal after treatment.
Dip the hand into the wax, fingertips first, with fingers separated.
Submerse the hand fully, past the wrist if desired.
Remove the hand once it has been coated with wax.
Repeat dipping the hand 6 to 10 times, waiting a few seconds between dips, so that layers of wax form over the hand.
TIP: each time dip your hand a little less far than the time before to avoid wax getting under the layer already on your skin, to prevent burns.
After the final dip, immediately cover the hand with a plastic bag.
Wrap with a hand towel and leave on for up to 15 minutes, to create moist, deep heat.
After 15 minutes, remove the towel & plastic bag.
Remove the cooled wax and return it to the paraffin unit for reuse.
Cover the paraffin and save it for next time.
Is Hot Paraffin Wax Treatment Safe for Hand Pain?
Paraffin wax is a 100% natural treatment, so it is safe for most people. The wax is laboratory created and tested to make sure it is pure and hygienic. The low melting point of paraffin means it can be applied to the skin at temperatures that will not to cause burns or blisters.
However, some patients with very sensitive skin, may occasionally experience heat rash. Heat rash is not dangerous but it can cause small red bumps on the skin that are itchy and uncomfortable. Make sure you follow the precautions below to ensure that you have a safe experience when applying heated way to your hand.
Precautions When Using Paraffin Wax Bath Heat Therapy:
Do not use heated paraffin wax if you have lost feeling in your hand
Do not use warm paraffin wax if you have neuropathy or diabetic neuropathy
Do not use paraffin wax treatment if you have poor blood circulation
Do not use hot wax treatments if you have a rash or any open sores
Make sure the wax temperature is at or below 125°F to avoid burns
Paraffin wax can catch fire, so be aware of fire and flammability safety
Always follow the advice of your doctor and the manufacturer’s instructions.
Bloomfield Hills Hand Pain Doctor
If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingers, wrist, elbow or arm, contact board certified Bloomfield Hills hand doctor Uzma Rehman, MD for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with any medical condition, early detection and diagnosis, and a comprehensive prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to reduce pain and minimize the possibility of long-term problems.
Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition.