Evaluation of the effectiveness of wet ice, dry ice, and cryogenic packs in reducing skin temperature

Phys Ther. 1987 Jul;67(7):1080-4. doi: 10.1093/ptj/67.7.1080.


The purposes of this study were to evaluate and compare the ability of wet ice (WI), dry ice (DI), and cryogenic packs (CGPs) to reduce and maintain the reduction of skin temperature directly under the cooling agent and to determine whether the cooling effect on skin extended beyond the surface area in contact with the cooling agent. Ten female volunteers participated in the study, and each of the three cold modalities was applied randomly to the skin overlying the right triceps surae muscle. After 15 minutes of cold application, mean skin temperatures recorded under WI, DI, and CGP decreased 12 degrees, 9.9 degrees, and 7.3 degrees C, respectively. The only significant differences in cooling were between WI and DI and between WI and CGP. Fifteen minutes after removal of the cold modalities, no significant differences were found in mean skin temperature between WI, DI, and CGP. The residual mean decrease in skin temperature between the pretreatment rest interval (time 0) and 15 minutes after removal of the cold modality (time 30) was significant for WI only. No cooling was demonstrated 1 cm proximal or distal to any of the cooling agents after 15 minutes of cold application. These findings provide valuable information for the use of cryotherapy in the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Dry Ice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / methods*
  • Ice
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Skin*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Thermometers


  • Dry Ice
  • Ice