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If you’re a migraine sufferer like me, chances are you’ve tried just about everything to alleviate the pain of these intense headaches. Medications? Check. Exercise and diet change? Yup. Lying in bed in pitch-dark silence? Definitely.
Personally, I have yet to find something that completely takes away my migraines, but the best way to dull them has always involved a combination of silence, darkness and ice — specifically ice packs on the top and back of my head. I am not alone in using this approach — even the National Headache Foundation recommends applying cold packs to the forehead and temples.
Ice packs can be bulky and heavy on your head, though, often slipping off or causing too much pressure, which makes a migraine even worse. So, I was intrigued when I stumbled upon this TheraICE Rx Form Fitting Gel Headache Hat, as it works as both an ice pack and heating pad. I knew I wanted to try it for my next migraine.
Priced at $32.95 right now on Amazon, the headache hat — which also works as a mask — offers stretchable compression, so it fits over your head with light pressure. Because the hat slips on, the cold or heat surrounds your head, which makes it easier to apply than holding a heating pad or ice pack in place. The hat also covers your ears and eyes, which is helpful during a migraine when you’re extra sensitive to sound and light.
There are no inserts, so you simply place the entire hat in the freezer (inside the included zip bag for two hours) or microwave (not in the bag for 20 seconds, then in 10-second increments as needed) and use it when you need to. Even if you don’t use it for migraines, the hat can help with milder headaches and other issues like inflammation, eye fatigue and puffiness.
With more than 8,000 reviews on Amazon, the headache hat has 4.5 stars out of 5, with 73% of reviewers giving it a full 5 stars and saying it’s easy to use, stays cold for a long time and is a “game changer.”
Now that I have used it myself, I not only agree with the reviews, I might love it even more than the most enthusiastic reviewer. I was “lucky” enough to experience two migraines since the hat arrived: One occurred due to rainy, humid weather and the other one was the migraine that I bought the hat for (my monthly bout with menstrual migraines). I have also used it a few times even without a headache to help cool down on a hot day, and I can genuinely say it helped every time.
Because I can predict when my monthly migraines will hit, I was able to get the hat in the freezer before the migraine began. For the other one that was simply weather-related, I put in the freezer when I felt the beginning stages and by the time it got pretty bad, the hat was ice-cold and ready to use. If you are sensitive to cold, you may want to let the frozen hat set outside of the freezer for a bit before putting it on, as it can get just as cold as a typical ice pack.
I have also put it in the microwave for about 20 seconds and it was warm enough to feel nice and calming without burning my skin. The cold lasted over an hour, but the heat dissipated pretty quickly. I wore it sitting up and lying down and it stayed put both ways.
The hat is soft and stretchy, and offered just enough pressure to feel it, which both alleviated the pain and helped me feel relaxed. I have a pretty small head and the hat fit quite well, with the exception that I could see light at the bottom, so it did not fully block out all light. For someone with a bigger face and head, it would likely fit a bit more snugly and could therefore block out more light. I also purchased a pink hat, so there is a chance that the black one could be more darkening.
Some reviewers mention that the hat has an odor, and while it did have a bit of a smell, it wasn’t overpowering and wouldn’t be enough to make my headache worse. When I removed it from the package, I sprayed it with some essential oil mist, specifically eucalyptus spearmint from Bath & Body Works because that can also help soothe my migraines, and the new-hat odor went away pretty much instantly.
Did the headache hat completely eliminate my migraine? No, but I didn’t expect it to, as nothing ever has. There is no doubt, however, that it lessened the severity of my migraines. Soon after I laid down with the hat pulled onto my head, my headache pain was no longer throbbing and some of my nausea went away. I did not take any pain pills or do anything else when testing the hat to make sure that it was actually the hat that helped.
If you’re looking for another drug-free alternative to help relieve migraine pain, this Migrastil Migraine Stick has nearly 16,000 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Made with peppermint, spearmint, lavender and coconut oils, it works by simply rolling it on your forehead, temples or back of your neck during a headache. Reviewers claim that if you apply it at the first signs of a migraine, it’ll help with the pain quickly — before pain medications even kick in. For around $13, it’s an affordable tool to keep in your migraine-relief toolbox.
What’s your go-to tactic for alleviating migraine pain?