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I sometimes wants to ice a part of my body (e.g., elbow, shoulder, ankle, etc.) when going to sleep in other to prevent swelling stemming from exercises. What's the proper way of placing ice so that I can fall asleep with it without waking up with a frostbite or other negative affect?

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You should not leave ice on a area for over 20 minutes unless instructed that you can by your doctor. This info is given by a Nursing Assistant Textbook. So you could place the ice before going to bed and set a timer to remind you of 20 minutes passing.

According to this site, further details are:

The tissue thickness of the injured area determines the length of the ice application. Knees require 15 minutes, while thicker tissue, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, requires 20 minutes. Thinner tissue, such as ankles and feet, requires approximately 10 minutes. Dont exceed the appropriate time frame. Allow one hour following numbing before reapplying ice.

The above source should be utilized for placement time amounts. As for protecting the area the amount of time the ice is on and the temperature are what matter in placement. Placing the ice and area between a blanket would allow for possible longer placement, but having only a thin tissue between the same temperature would posdibly indicate a shorter time.

Another site:

If you choose to use an ice bag containing ice and water of your own mix understand that it is possible to create an ice bag that is too cold and can damage the skin with a "cold burn". Use a layer or two of damp Turkish towels under this type of ice bag.

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