How to Activate Thermacare Heat Wraps

Two Parts:Applying Your Heat WrapsDeciding Whether to Use a Heat Wrap

Thermacare heat wraps can provide temporary relief from sore muscles, strained joints and menstrual cramps. Before using a Thermacare wrap, you should be familiar with its uses, and make sure you are prepared to use it effectively. Activating and applying the wraps correctly is also essential for effective use.

Part 1
Applying Your Heat Wraps

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    Unwrap the heat wrap thirty minutes before use. The chemical ingredients in Thermacare wraps need to be exposed to air to activate. Once exposed to air, the wrap should immediately begin heating, reaching its maximum temperature in about half an hour. Attaching the wrap too early will limit its exposure to air, causing it to heat more slowly.[1]
    • Do not microwave the wrap, or attempt to speed up the warming by heating it in any other fashion. Doing so may ruin the wrap and create a fire hazard.
    • If the wrap hasn't warmed up after 30 minutes, it may have been previously exposed to air and deactivated. Throw it away and open a new one.
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    Clean and dry the area you will be treating with the heat wrap. Dirt, moisture, lotions or cosmetic products will prevent the wrap from adhering securely and may result in the wrap coming loose and becoming ineffective.[2]
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    Decide whether to wear the heat wrap over clothing. If you are over 55 or are especially sensitive to heat, you should apply the wrap over a piece of light clothing, such as an undergarment. Laying a light cloth over the area you will be applying the heat wrap before attaching it is another option.[3]
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    Position the active heat cells over the target area. Thermacare heat wraps have visible heat cells on their interior and exterior surfaces. The darker pads are on the side of the wrap intended to come into contact with the skin. Make sure these darker cells are facing your skin as you attach the pads.[4]
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    Remove the wrap's peel paper and lightly adhere the wrap. Do not press the adhesive tabs firmly onto your skin until you are sure you have placed the wrap where you want it to remain. Here are specific guidelines for each type of wrap:[5]
    • For the lower back and hip, center the pad over the location of the pain with the slightly extended "tab" section of the heating pad pointing down.
    • For the neck, wrist or shoulder, simply center the pad over the location of the pain and wrap the straps as if applying an adhesive bandage.
    • For the knee and elbow, bend the joint and place the opening in the wrap over the end of your knee or elbow before attaching the adhesive strips around the back of the joint.
    • Menstrual wraps do not apply directly to the skin but, rather, to the inner side of an undergarment. Adhere the wrap to the garment where it will cover the target area, then put on the garment.
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    Adhere firmly once you have positioned the wrap. Rub the adhesive tabs into your skin until they are firmly attached. This will ensure that the wrap remains in place while you are using it.[6]
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    Wear the wrap for up to 8 hours. Thermacare wraps are designed to be worn under clothing, and should come loose during normal physical activity. Eventually, the active chemical ingredients in the wrap will run out, and the wrap will begin to cool. Once it has cooled, a heat wrap will no longer be effective. Do not try to reheat the wrap in the microwave, or by any other means.[7]
    • You can dispose of depleted heat wraps in your normal household waste.
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    Monitor your skin. You should check under the wrap every couple of hours to make sure you are not experiencing redness or irritation. If you experience prolonged redness, irritation, or increased pain you should stop using the heat wrap right away, and talk to your doctor if the symptoms do not dissipate.[8]
    • If the irritation is only mild, you can instead try wearing a light layer of cloth underneath the wrap.

Part 2
Deciding Whether to Use a Heat Wrap

  1. Image titled Activate Thermacare Heat Wraps Step 9
    Determine if you need a heat wrap. Heat wraps are useful for temporarily relieving soreness from overuse of muscles, pain from strain to joints in your back, arms and legs, and cramping associated with menstruation. Heat therapy can be soothing, but will not help your body heal injuries. You should talk to a doctor about treatment options if you are injured, or if your pain is severe.[9]
    • Because a Thermacare wrap requires clean, dry skin to attach to, they cannot be used over an area where a therapeutic cream or ointment is applied. Doing so will prevent the wrap from adhering properly.
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    Make sure you purchase the correct heat wrap. Not all varieties of heat pad are suitable for application to all parts of the body. Thermacare offers several varieties of heat wrap, each suitable for a different part of the body. The varieties currently available are:[10]
    • Lower back and hip
    • Knee and elbow
    • Neck, wrist and shoulder
    • Menstrual, for the lower abdomen
    • Multi-purpose, for use on any location on the back, arms or legs.
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    Try using heat wraps during the day first. This will allow you to monitor your response to the heat wrap and watch out for irritation or discomfort. Once you confirmed that the wraps are comfortable for your use, you can consider wearing them during sleep.[11]


  • If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes or poor circulation, check with your doctor before using this product.
  • Do not wear this product for more than 8 hours (12 hours for arthritis wraps) in a single day. Using the product for longer can increase your risk of irritation.

Article Info

Categories: Heat and Cold Injuries