My weirdest migraine remedy.

My Weirdest Migraine Home Remedy Tool

Pressure on my head or pulling my hair gives me some relief during a migraine attack. One night I started to drift off while squeezing my head, but woke right back up when my hands relaxed and the pressure lifted. My MacGyver solution was to wrap a tube sock around my head and tie it tightly. As the risk of sounding boastful, I must say that it was one of my best ideas ever.

The tube sock maintains steady pressure and the knot performs a sort of acupressure. I move the knot from one temple to the other and sometimes put it along my occipital ridge. It usually provides enough relief that I can get to sleep. Entering the land of migraine-induced nightmares is a mixed blessing, but one I’ll gladly take over being awake through the attack.


The only reason I even had tube socks was to make heat packs for my feet, which become frigid during a migraine attack. I fill a sock with rice, tie a knot in the open end, and put another sock over it and tie that one, too. Whenever I need a quick, scent-free way to warm up my feet, I pop the “rice pack,” as we call them in my household, in the microwave for 3 minutes. The secondary sock keeps bits of rice from falling through fabric and filling the bed with grit. If you sew, you can make a tube of fabric and do the same thing, which would probably contain the grit better. When winter is over, I dump the rice and wash the socks, then refill them again in the fall. (If I lived somewhere that the temperature didn’t reach triple digits for months each summer, I’d likely use them year-round.) Odd, yes, but highly effective, inexpensive, and unscented.

I never expected tube socks would make it into my migraine relief kit, but they’re proven themselves invaluable in two different ways. What strange ways have you discovered provide relief during migraine attacks?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (51)
  • texaseve
    2 years ago

    I love all the hair pulling folks, as I am one of them. I rub my head hard also. I have gone to a beauty salon, just to have my hair washed and asked for a head massage. I go have a general massage which is not a home remedy, although takes my mind off it for a while. If it is real bad, I will take my migraine med Zomig, and get in to a warm bathtub, and let the water creep up me…. somehow getting the chills and goosebumps gives relief and I keep my head cool with a washcloth at the same time. The water seems to pull the ache down some. I don’t stay long enough to get real warm all over, as heat and humidity is the last thing I need. I also use peppermint cream with I slather on my neck. My neck massager also helps sometimes.

  • KateGladstone
    2 years ago

    I have found that I have to have various remedies, because usually one of them will work for a few weeks or months, but then it will stop working. My current favorite (for as long as it works) is to intentionally give myself a “brain freeze“ by quickly eating popsicles or ice cream, in such a way that theY freeze the roof of my mouth … AND THEN (this part is really important!) cure the “brain freeze” by Rubbing the roof of my mouth with my tongue until the roof of my mouth is warm again. I got this from a YouTube video on migraines (sorry, I cannot find the link to live right now), which was made by a doctor who suffers migraines himself. He explained that this procedure constricts the too-large blood vessels and then returns them to a normal, non-enlarged size and state. He calls it “internal application of ice.”

  • Stardust56
    2 years ago

    It’s nice to know I am not the only one who pulls hair to help relieve migraine pain. I also will use my knuckles to rub various areas of my head. 🙂

  • Fluffycat
    2 years ago

    I would try to hide what I was doing, so no one would think I was crazy. I too would pull my hair at the crown of my head. I try going to the bathroom and doing it so no one will see me, waiting for the moment I get home and can take something for it. I felt so alone. It’s good to see I wasn’t.

  • ctaylor
    2 years ago

    My grandmother, who was born in 1904, used to tell my mother that women would wrap a rag around their head and tie it as tight as you could stand with the knot where it hurt the worst. I find it interesting that each generation keeps coming back to the same homespun solutions. In my family this kind of solution, with small variations has been “discovered” by each of 5 generations for migraines.

  • KateGladstone
    2 years ago

    I have various things I do (because sometimes but one thin* will work, somet8mes another), but this is a frequent “go-to).

  • mrst53
    2 years ago

    I have a question, that is sort of off topic- I get my migraines usually between 3PM and 4:30 PM during the day. It’s almost like clockwork.Does anyone else have these?

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi there mrs53,
    I noticed you kindly took the time to comment on a few of our articles today! Thank you as always for doing so…you are always just an active and engaging member of our community! 🙂 That being said, you mention also taking Fiorinal (in another comment) which has caffeine, it may be worth speaking to your doctor to see if you may be experiencing MOH (medication overuse headache) since you also mention it happening within the same time-frame which can be a common signal of that occurring.

    Here is some information related to this topic –
    https://migraine.com/living-migraine/stop-rebound-headaches/
    https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/

    Thanks again for reaching out.
    Warmly,
    Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • mrst53
    2 years ago

    I can’t stand to have my hair pulled as when my Dad tried to kill me, he pulled my hair, so that’s a “no-no”. I use ice packs and its as tight as I can get it. I also use heat on top of my head. Lavender spray sometimes help. I also thought I was the only one who got diarrhea with the migraine, guess not. Most of the times, I have no warning, my migraine is just there and I have to take my meds and go to bed, NOW!

  • Annie Lou
    2 years ago

    I try to stylishly wrap scarves around my head! I’ve found that most infinity scarves fit perfectly around my head and provide just the right amount of pressure when wrapped three times!

  • katsock
    3 years ago

    I pull my hair as well. My mother says that she remembers my dad pulling my on his hair when he was having an attack.

    When my migraines get bad I will ask my husband to “wash my hair”. It is the same hand movements you will use when you shampoo your hair but just sitting in the chair. I guess it is the same as a head massage but I will have him go between the wash and pull options. He can never get the pull options correct though but he tries. 🙂

  • Jodiwadi
    3 years ago

    I swear by ice packs with elastic on – like this sort of thing; https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00G8JT6RK/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1464350404&sr=8-2&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=ice+pack+knee&dpPl=1&dpID=51SYtlSALtL&ref=plSrch

    The strap is long enough to wrap the ice pack around your head and then uses Velcro to hold in place, meaning that you can wrap it tightly and get pressure as well as the cooling of the ice.

    I also have several IMAK eye masks permanently in the freezer; it’s full of beads so is lovely and cold when you put it on (although the cold doesn’t last as long as a normal ice pack sadly) plus sometimes gently massaging the outside of the mask (so the beads in turn massage your face) can be really helpful.

    I normally wear both the ice pack and the eye mask at once. Which looks super stylish! :-p

  • aaellsworth
    4 years ago

    The only thing I’ve found that helps take the edge off enough to sleep is Dramamine (motion sickness medication). It helps with the nausea, too. I also have to sleep with a heat pad (one that automatically turns off after a certain amount of time).

  • MaggieG
    4 years ago

    My grandmother would tie a scarf soaked in vinegar around her head to help with a headache. No doubt the sock approach is similar. You can also use a pillowcase to hold your heat /cold /rice pack . It can be tied around your head and will hold when you fall asleep.

  • Tina Harmon
    4 years ago

    Vanilla ice cream or milkshake. I don’t care for vanilla flavor except when I have a migraine. I think the cold helps though I don’t typically get “brain freeze” from it.

  • sharon2015
    4 years ago

    My mum have had me put a generous amount of coconut oil on my forehead and rub it in. after take a wet cloth spread sugar on it and tied it around my head. i find it works for me…

  • LizziesAxe
    4 years ago

    Put 2-3 pillows over my head and then press down as hard as I can.

    I myself have never tried this, but I heard that an old remedy used in France was for the sufferer to immerse her or his feet in a bucket of ice water for a few minutes. Thought it was dumb but then realized that this would cause the body to rush blood to the cold feet and away from the head. But I haven’t been brave enough to try it!

  • illya
    4 years ago

    Mine are the hair pulling too, cold flannel, foot massage or head massage (if I’m lucky!) and ice coffee like a frappocino or something. I can understand the ice cream thing too. Brain freeze is great when I have a migraine!

  • Laura
    4 years ago

    Kerrie – I’ve pulled my hair for years when I have a migraine. You are not alone! I wish I had someone else to do it for me, but it does feel good at times while in pain. Funny the things we discover can help when we are desperate and have chronic pain, isn’t it?

  • Jeanne
    4 years ago

    I thought I was the only one who pulled on my hair!!! If the pain is localized on my temples or brow bones, I also try pushing right on the bone as hard as I can. It only helps briefly but sometimes I’m desperate for just a few seconds of less pain.

    And I cut my hair. I had a theory that the weight of the hair on my head & scalp might aggravate pain. So I went from long hair that was below my shoulders, to super-short (less than 2 inches long) all over. It hasn’t reduced the frequency of migraine attacks, but it does seem to help lower the intensity of the pain when I get migraines.

  • mbargfrede
    4 years ago

    I do a lot of acupressure to different areas of my skull and jaw. It’s only temporary relief while waiting for my meds to kick in, but it has also helped me to be able to finish out a work day when I’m having a minor migraine.
    My #1 go-to is a 32-oz blue Powerade when I kick off my med cocktail, then go to bed. I also can do some SCM manipulation that my massage therapist has taught me.

  • Melanie
    4 years ago

    I have a clay pack (the kind you microwave and use hot). I put it over whichever eye /temple is hurting and press my head into it.
    It does help, but I have gotten some nasty burns from it.
    For at least six months I have been buying these peel and stick pain patches (Salon pas) and cutting them down and use them across my forehead. They supply heat and pressure, even though they look silly. But it works for me.

  • Jan Me
    4 years ago

    After fifty years of every conceivable meds and disappointing treatment under the sun and I’ve finally had great success in the last few weeks from a specially trained headache Physio. I’ve been reading all your previous posts about hair pulling and pressure and this seems so familiar to what he’s been doing as a treatment but obviously in a more systematic and informed way. He explained about the structure of the spine, the C1, 2 and 3 at the top, and all the big nerves that run up and through into the brain, incl the trigeminal. We’ve been doing exercises and massages that have ‘unlocked’ my oh so rigidly locked in C1 and 2, using of all things, a bathrobe belt, as someone intuitively suggested previously, to align these bones with the rest of the spine. All the work has paid off slowly to ease 24hr a day migraines, and chronic depression, to an occasional early morning headache, as long as I am persistent with the exercises! He had said that in desensitising the major nerves, pain pathways to the brain, we should be able to defuse other triggers, and I was highly doubtful as I had been unable to drink alcohol or eat chocolate, ice cream etc for twenty plus years. But I gave it a try at Easter and shared an Easter egg with my husband and absolutely nothing!! Still don’t feel confident enough to have a mouthful of wine yet, but hoping to in a few weeks!My weird migraine self-help aid is one of those bean filled airline neck pillows. It gives me just the right amount of firm pressure under my neck when suffering with a migraine. I keep a large safety pin in it and pin as firmly as possible to make a kind of neck brace, keeping my chin up and spine/head straight. Also keeps the jaw aligned when I’m laying down and stops facial muscles and teeth from hurting. It is a bit warm in the hot weather but compensate anyway with ice packs and air con and well worth putting up with it. I discussed it with my Physio (my new best friend BTW) and he says whatever helps is worth trying!

  • Margs01
    4 years ago

    This seems like a name and shame thing, so here goes… We have an arthritis cream called Rostrix, which has capsiacin in it… if I put a bit of that on my little finger and sniff that up my nose, hurts, burns, stings like mad, but it really helps.. we don’t have a nasal spray here in NZ that contains capsiacin, so this is the next best thing… Other than that, cold cloth on eyes, forehead..or obliteration with triptans, providing I am not already
    puking..

  • KateGladstone
    2 years ago

    Capsaicin cream works well for me, too, when rubbed onto the pain-site … but I’d never tried sniffing it!

  • katsock
    3 years ago

    I don’t know if you have tried this but it is designed to be inhaled. I hope you can pull it up on the NZ Amazon site. Ausanil Nasal Spray for Rapid Relief of Severe Headaches + Migraine

    http://www.amazon.com/Ausanil-Headaches-Migraine-Formulated-neurologist/dp/B00GP3UCYK?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00

  • Barb H
    4 years ago

    I’m a long term diabetic and I get infections from cuts and scratches very easily. I started using Band-aid antibacterial bandaids with a lot of success. Even on areas that are just red and swollen but no open sores. After trying a lot of things to give some relief from the migraines and being desperate because even the ER can’t help anymore and probably because my mind was more than a little addled, I put 2 large antbacterial bandaids on the back of my neck just under the skull. Within 30 minutes I had relief. A few days later as the pain was just starting up, I did it again. It worked again. 2 nights ago, my hearing was getting worse, the lights on the tv were making me sick, the diarrhea had started and the sound of putting the lid down on the toilet was just bearable. My cheeks were getting red, I was burping and my left ear felt like it was plugged. I put the bandaids on my neck and added one more on each cheek. After the half hour, the only sign was a couple more burps and over an hour later one last trip to the bathroom. To be honest, I left the tv off and I fixed myself some ginger tea. Just the tv off and the tea have never stopped the ramping up of a headache before. No meds have ever worked like this, if they worked at all. Not sure if the bandaids will work on the severe vertigo. That doesn’t ever start at the back of my head. However, sometimes the headache will start first and after a few hours will change to vertigo, so maybe the bandaids in that case would prevent the vertigo. I leave them on as long as they will stick. I’ve had to cut them free of the neck hairs but it’s a small price to pay. I don’t care if it’s weird, a placebo effect or whatever, I just thank God for however long it works. One last thing, my daughter was giving me strong ibuprofen in years past. Since my BP and blood glucose both soar when having migraine or vertigo, a pharmacist told me to never take any nsaids, to lessen chance of hemmoragic stroke or other bleeds. Yes I tried a lot of prescription meds and the best I ever got was about a 2 hr rest from the pain. I was ready to throw in the towel. 40 years is enough. Maybe my weird trick is the answer to all those prayers I kept sending up. Only way I survived.

  • KateGladstone
    2 years ago

    To avoid having to cut those Band-Aids free of the neck hairs — rub some oil, any kind you like, onto and into the Band-Aids when it’s time to take them off. The Band-Aids will now pull off smoothly and easily, with no harm to your hair or skin. (Coconut oil works great for this!) The same trick can also be done with witch-hazel instead — or even with vodka, or even with rubbing-alcohol, which is what hospitals use to remove Band-Aid adhesive — these actually work faster than doing it with oil — but for some people, smelling the alcohol in those other methods is a migraine-trigger.

  • mbcpa
    4 years ago

    I lived in the backwoods of Guatemala for several years. Several times I saw local Maya women walk around with a scarf tied tightly around their heads. I was told that those women had a “real bad” headache. I guess the Maya already knew how to treat migraines, although they don’t know migraines from headaches.

  • Teresa
    4 years ago

    I used to use a cold wet washcloth which I would fold up real small, and use that as a pressure device on my temple. A few years ago, I found a very helpful product called Headache Reliever by a company called Absolutely New. It is a compression wrap that is made with a pocket that holds soft ice packs (the kind that stay pliable when frozen). The packs can also be heated in the microwave if you prefer heat. It comes with 3 of these ice packs, but you can use however many you need. Once you get the ice packs in it, you wrap it around your head, and pull it tight with the Velcro strap. It is a wonderful tool in my search for pain relief. It is much less messy than the wet washcloth, too. I usually use 2 of the packs, one on whichever temple is pounding that day, and one on the occipital ridge.
    On other days, when I have a severe occipital migraine, I will use my TENS unit on the muscles in my shoulders and neck, and I will fold up a heating pad and lay with it behind my neck.

  • quilter laura
    4 years ago

    When my hair hurts, pulling it into a ponytail on the top of my head helps. At least keeps me from shaving my head in desperation! Eventually I will get a different headache from the ponytail, but strangely that is a welcome distraction from the original pain.

    One strange thing that took the edge off this week was ice cream! I ate an entire pint of Coconut Bliss in one sitting. So soothing. It cooled my head from the inside out.

  • Kgarasich
    4 years ago

    Glad I am not the only one who craves and only wants to eat ice cream when having a migraine attack. 🙂

  • Dee
    4 years ago

    I’ve had migraines from at least age 5. When I would get one, my grandmother who was also a migraine sufferer, would tie a semi tight rag around my head. It always helped, so I’ve done it since then.

  • schrisman
    4 years ago

    This remedy is more common than you’d think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WlXjrkaiZw You can use Ace bandages or purchase Iyengar wraps that are a bit thinner. There are at least 8 ways to wrap your head.

  • Teszla
    4 years ago

    I am also a hair puller. Left side, 1″ above my temple. As soon as I start pulling I know an attack is imminent.
    I have also had relief by tying my stretchy scarf around my head! I’m not crazy! Ok well, that’s up for debate, but I’m glad to see I’m not alone.

  • Stace31601
    4 years ago

    I am so glad to hear of people’s ideas. I feel more normal by reading these blogs. Ice packs do help me and pulling of my hair. I am on my 2nd session of botox, fingers crossed. Have tried all the medications, but after 3 or 4 months (sometimes shorter) I start have reactions or I can’t function on them. I don’t want to take medicine that makes me not function and the side effects. I would rather deal with the migraine and not be able to function.

  • Dayna
    4 years ago

    Great idea! I too pull my hair. When I was younger without a drug plan, my roommate used to lay on my head to provide that pressure. We laugh about it now, but at the time it was just what needed to be done!

  • chiaragtl
    4 years ago

    the electric toothbrush. its massage is soothing.

  • Nicola
    4 years ago

    robertcan, what is a Cefaly device? Never heard of it!

  • RobertCan
    4 years ago

    Nicola, cefaly is a device that produces impulses that act on the trigeminal nerve. It’s FDA approved and is available with a prescription for around $300. I recommend anyone interested in the device to simple google “cefaly reviews” and educate yourself of the pros and cons from other users. As mentioned in my earlier post, it can be helpful in reducing intensity and frequency of migraines, but not for everyone. Best wishes.

  • ahnonnymust
    4 years ago

    Having my husband pull my hair really helps me. He doesn’t do it as well as my myofascial release massage therapist does, but he’s getting better. Basically I have him put my hair in a ponytail and then just pull slowly until the pressure is right. It’s one of those good hurts, and when he lets go, it’s like it makes my head muscles relax. It’s wonderful. I can do it myself but its not as effective because I have to think about it.

    Another thing I’ve done for years is put a tennis ball behind my head and lay on that to apply pressure. If a tennis ball is too big, use a racket ball.

    I have tmj and can’t handle pressure on that joint (no on-ear headphones ever) especially when I have a headache, so the sock tied never occurred to me. I think I could manage it, though. It’s something I’ll definitely try. Isn’t it crazy what we’re willing to do for a little bit of relief?

  • Mike Hoyt
    4 years ago

    My sister invented a product just exactly as you describe. She put acupressure + small cold packs + sock = Headache Helper.It’s true. This combination really works. Walmart just placed a purchase order from her. If you want one you can find it at http://www.Headache-Helper.com I hope this helps y’all like it has me.

  • rhondagrensberg
    4 years ago

    I got diagnosed when I was pushing my head into the corner to get relief. My odd way of dealing with it? I lay on my bed put 4 firm pillows on my head and a book on top of that. I know that this sounds weird and I am definitely tryimg the tube socks as everyone I know is afraid that I will suffocate myself

    I do have a question: Does anyine else get a raging fever when they have a migraine attack? It is the only time my fever goes above 99.0.

  • daisylind
    4 years ago

    Oh man, I totally will push my head into a corner when I’m stuck out in public or at work- I go into a bathroom stall and will push my head into the corner of the metal walls, or if it’s a corner stall, the tile walls- always thought it was just my own weird way of trying to release the pressure.

    Reading all these definitely makes me feel like I’m not the only weirdo who tries odd combinations of head wraps/ ice packs/ pillow combos, etc. My husband is more than used to my crazy combinations.

    First time hearing about the hair pulling. I know if I have my hair up in a bun or ponytail that can trigger a migraine, and brushing my hair can help if I’m in the middle of an attack just having something to distract me.

    When at home, it’s an ice pack on my eyes with a pillow or heavy eye pillow on top laying bed.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    4 years ago

    If the tube sock isn’t sufficient, you might want to look into yoga sandbags. They look like large eye pillows, but are filled with sand and fairly heavy (I think you can get different weights). They’re said to soothe the nervous system. Even if that’s not the case, the weight might be good without the risk of suffocation.

    Fever isn’t a a super common migraine symptom, but it can definitely be a symptom.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  • Barb H
    4 years ago

    I’ve been known to stand outside in a cold rain in my nightgown and housecoat to get some relief from the pain and the feverishness. Felt like I was on fire at same time someone was beating my head with a baseball bat. Hospital tested me and said there were no infections. I don’t get fever with the vertigo at all, just the migraine. Most of the other symptoms are identical. Nausea, diarrhea, aversion to light and sound, tinnitus roaring and left ear feels plugged, Bp and blood glucose soaring. check my weird relief post for bandaid antibacterial bandaids on back of neck just under skull. Been working consistently for over a month.

  • Stace31601
    4 years ago

    I do get a fever some times. I haven’t figured out if it is the pain or the actual migraine.

  • RobertCan
    4 years ago

    I can attest to the therapeutic value of human touch. My daughter places her cold hands on my temples which often reduces the intensity, but only while she maintains her touch. I’ve also experienced limited relief from acupressure. Most recently, I’ve started to use my Cefaly device which has also provided limited relief, in some cases knocking the pain level down by 2 or 3 points.

  • Tammy Rome
    4 years ago

    Awesome! I have used belts and scarves in a similar way. I also have rice packs (made them myself), but I use them for the sinus pressure that comes with some of the attacks. Just when I think I’m the only one with weird coping tricks, I find someone just as crazy as me. Thanks!!

  • Kelly (Miss Migraine)
    4 years ago

    I have found that light pressure helps me, too, though I usually apply it in the form of a rice pack I keep in the freezer.

    But I also use my husband’s hands. In the winter, his hands are always freezing cold, so I get him to lie down with me and put his hands to my temples. The light touch is comforting, and the sensation of cold distracts from the migraine pain. There’s something about human contact that makes me feel better–or at least less alone.

  • Kippieloo
    2 years ago

    I’ve had 50+ yrs of migraine. Before an MD would listen, I had to resort to home remedies. My favorite was BenGay. On the temples, forehead and a touch under each nostril helped. I also had a stash of peppermint lifesavers to suck on to ease the nausea, and make the vomiting less nasty.
    I can’t do cold treatment, I need heat on my head. Yoga bags are great – one is scented with lavender, the other unscented. I microwave them both, place one on the back of my neck the other along the side of my face.
    When they cool off, I reheat.
    I’m glad (?) to hear the number of unusual symptoms that you all describe. After all these years, I thought I was weird because my hair hurts with a migraine.
    How about the weight of eyeglasses on the bridge of your nose hurting as an early warning symptom of and oncoming migraine?

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