I recently had a bad abscess that turned out to be an infected cyst. (Don't worry, I'll spare you the gory picture on that one!) My doctor told me to put hot compresses on the lump for 15-20 minutes 3 times a day. I started using a washcloth soaked in hot water, but it cooled far too quickly to leave it on for more than a few minutes. I got tired of running back to the sink every 2-3 minutes, and wasn't thrilled with the water running down my neck. I could have used an electric heating pad or my aromatic Herbal Therapy Pack
but since I live in a hot climate, I really didn't want to heat any more of my body than I needed to.
Soooo, I made myself a little compress bag. I used a piece of scrap fabric about 4" square and made a little pocket about 4x2". Then I filled the pocket with about 2 cups (uncooked) rice and closed up the end to make a rice-filled pillow.
When it's time to apply the compress, I put the bag in the microwave with a cup of water and heat for about a minute and a half. (Heating with a small amount of water makes for a moist compress. If you prefer dry compresses, heat the bag alone in the microwave.) The rice stays hot for 15-20 minutes, and I don't have water running down into my clothes!
I've actually made these kinds of things several times before. My son was an uber-jock in high school and frequently had pulled hamstrings or injured muscles in other parts of his body. He asked for a bag about 8" square that he kept in the freezer, for cold compresses or heated in the microwave for hot therapy. I made channels (see the Herbal Therapy Bag above to see) in his bag (about 2 inches wide) to keep the rice from bunching up too much.
I also made one a few years ago to wrap around my neck when I was having neck/shoulder issues. It was a tube about 12" long and 2" wide.
I got my shoulder issues worked out now thanks to a helpful chiropractor, so now I heat that bag and put it under my bowl when raising bread dough when I'm in a hurry.
These are great, because they're reusable; they only take a few minutes to heat; there's no worry about falling asleep and getting burned/starting a fire as with an electric heating pad; they're not messy or drippy like an ice bag or wet washcloth and they're completely portable. I heat my little one up as I'm ready to walk out the door, and do my compress while riding to work. I can also reheat it at work or where ever I have access to a microwave (church, friend's home etc).