Tanya Coats Occupational Therapy

What is Paraffin Wax?

Paraffin wax is a type of wax used for candles that can also be used to relieve pain from arthritis, sore joints or sore muscles. When the wax is melted and becomes hot, submerging your hands in the wax can be a great method to sooth pain. Paraffin wax is an at-home treatment that has been recommended by hand specialists.

You should NOT use paraffin wax if you have an open cut/wound on your hands or if you’ve had past issues with sensation in your hands.

This at-home treatment can be completed by either renting or purchasing a paraffin wax unit, both of which are low-cost options. You can buy a unit at a local drugstore.

If you decide to use paraffin wax for pain or soreness, be sure you are following the safety instructions on the machine.

Follow these steps to safely apply the wax to your hands:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them.
  2. Rub lotion onto your hands: Hand lotion allows the wax to be removed easily after treatment.
  3. Dip your hand into the wax: Your fingertips should go in first. Keep your fingers separated and submerse your hand all the way past the wrist if desired.
  4. Remove your hand after it has been coated with wax.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4: Dip your hand 6-8 times, waiting a few seconds between each dip. This allows layers of wax to form over your hand.
  6. Immediately cover your hand with a plastic bag and wrap with a hand towel: Wait 10-15 minutes. This will create moist, deep heat for your hand.
  7. Remove the towel, plastic bag and cooled wax after 10-15 minutes.
  8. Return the wax from your hand to the paraffin unit for reuse.
  9. Proceed with exercises that have been recommended by your hand surgeon and/or hand therapist.


Paraffin Wax 1
Figure 1 - Dip your hand into the wax
Paraffin Wax
Figure 2 -Immediately cover your hand with a plastic bag and wrap with a hand towel
Paraffin Wax
Figure 3 - Return the wax from your hand to the paraffin unit for reuse

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