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Migraine Hats: Can They Help?

Posted on April 14, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D.
Article written by
Dawn Ferchak

Medical professionals have long known that cold therapy can help migraines — studies on the effects of cold on migraine go as far back as 1869. Cold temperatures, such as the cooling delivered from ice packs, can help numb the pain. Most people simply use cold packs or cooling patches, but there is another option that has been getting attention: migraine hats.

In this article, you will find information about migraine hats, including research on how these may help and what others have to say about using them. As always, talk to your doctor or neurologist before trying a new therapy or treatment for migraines.

What Is a Migraine Hat?

As its name suggests, a migraine hat (also known as a headache hat) is a hat or wraparound headband designed to provide relief from some migraine symptoms. These hats or bands work by cooling the head, numbing the pain or tension felt during a migraine headache.

Holding or securing an ice pack to the head or neck is something people with migraine have been doing for ages. Modern migraine hats aim to make things easier by securing cold or hot packs for you on your pain points. You simply put on the hat — no need to hold anything in place.

The Research on Migraine Hats: Do They Work?

There have not been any recent medical studies evaluating the benefit of modern migraine hats or caps. However, the principle behind these hats — cooling as a form of migraine relief — has been in use for years.

One small study in 1988 looked at the efficacy of a device called the Migra-lief apparatus, which delivered both heat and cold to the wearer. The apparatus was found to reduce pain severity in 15 of the 20 study participants with migraines.

In 2006, researchers conducted a small pilot study where subjects wore a cooling gel hat to see if it would help migraine pain. The researchers found that participants felt relief in as little as 25 minutes. The application of cooling may be enough on its own to help alleviate migraine attacks in some people, the researchers stated.

Anecdotal Evidence

Although there aren’t many studies specifically on modern migraine hats or caps, there is anecdotal evidence.

Some members of MyMigraineTeam have expressed their satisfaction with a migraine hat product called the Icekap. “I use Icekap for the really bad days and it helps,” said one member. Another member explained, “It is a cap with various pockets for ice or heat packs, and after you put it on, you have straps with Velcro on them to tighten the cap up (mine are so old that I have been wrapping it with an ACE bandage not too tight).”

As one member commented, “It allows you to have a cold compress at your forehead, top of the head, and back of the head and still be hands-free. It really is a helpful tool. I recently ordered a second one to keep at work because I have got to find a way to not take off so much from work."

Other members had these things to say:

  • “It is a lifesaver.”
  • “If ice packs help your headaches, this is a perfect solution. They come in different sizes and have medical-grade ice packs.”
  • “I find the location of the three ice packs at once is more effective. It even has a ponytail hole to slip your hair through!”
  • “If I have any type of headache or the inkling of one, I put the Icekap on for about 20 minutes, and it really tames things.”
  • “I use the Icekap. You can either ice the gel packs or heat them. It is expensive but worth it!”

However, not everyone likes migraine hats, and they may not work for everyone. One member wrote, “I do not use my headache hat because it is too cold. I love my flaxseed and rice cloth bags that I store in the freezer. A larger one to use on my cooling pillow and a longer, smaller one to drape over my eyes and temples.”

Migraine Hats: The Bottom Line

More than 36 million Americans deal with migraine pain. If you experience this condition, wearable cold therapy hats, bands, and devices may be worth considering. These products may offer convenient pain relief, most of them are portable, and the hats are a nonpharmaceutical choice for managing symptoms.

As always, talk to a health care provider before trying new therapies for migraine, including over-the-counter options like migraine hats. The doctor will be able to advise you on how these other approaches may fit into your current migraine treatment and symptom management plans.

Find Your Team

If you or a loved one deal with migraine headaches and pain, get support from people who have been there. It’s an important part of living with the condition and can help you feel less alone. MyMigraineTeam is the social network for people with migraine, as well as their friends and family. Here, more than 75,000 members can ask questions, share stories, enjoy conversations, and get support from people around the world who understand what you’re going through.

Have you tried migraine hats? Have they helped? Share your experience and tips in the comments below or by posting on MyMigraineTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D. is a neurology and pediatric specialist and treats disorders of the brain in children. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Dawn Ferchak is a content creator with over 15 years of experience. Her areas of expertise include health and wellness, including clinical areas such as rare diseases, orthopedics, oncology, and mental health. She writes for both professional and consumer audiences. Learn more about her here.

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