Eli5 why do doctors say not to apply ice directly to the skin and to wrap in a towel but doctors also recommend athletes regularly take ice baths?

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Eli5 why do doctors say not to apply ice directly to the skin and to wrap in a towel but doctors also recommend athletes regularly take ice baths?

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Ice applied directly to the skin can cause a frost burn ice baths are water with a lot of ice in it and towels protect from direct contact.

Because it’s less painful to hold ice to your skin wrapped in a towel, therefore prolonging the time you can hold it to your skin.

The water in an ice bath will be no colder than 32F / 0C. That is safe for your skin to be in contact with.

However, a block of ice can be much colder, possibly cold enough to cause damage to your skin.

Ice direct to the skin can stick and cause burns similar to frost bite, kind of like trying to lick a frozen pole. Muscles in athletes can increase in temperature which can be detrimental to recovery so ice in water for an athlete for short periods lowers their temperature and shortens recovery time.