Many schools are in spring sports or playoff season which means I'm seeing a few strains and sprains in the office.
The treatment recommendation for a sprain or strain is usually RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. I just saw an adolescent volleyball player who had started back to her volleyball work outs and "pulled a muscle". So, she followed her coaches directions to "ice it". Unfortunately, she just put the ice pack directly onto her skin and she came in with an ice burn! OUCH!
Yes, ice can burn the skin and cause frostbite as well. When treating an injury with ice you need to make sure that you put a towel or sheeting between the ice and your skin. In this patient's case the ice burn looked similar to a sunburn, and did not blister or cause any severe damage. In fact, when she pulled up her pants to show me her leg she "quizzed me" to see if I could guess what had caused the redness.......guess what, knowing that she was an athlete helped me guess correctly!
The picture above shows her injury as well.
The treatment is similar to a thermal burn, apply a lubricant like Aquaphor or aloe vera, and let the skin slowly heal. If it is blistered or has had severe damage to the skin you may need to see your doctor.
Remember, ice is good for injuries but cannot be applied directly to the skin.