Does the Migraine Hat Really Work? We Asked 3 People to Find Out.
When a migraine hits, one of the first things many migraineurs turn to is ice to dull the pain. But what’s the best way to apply ice to your head? Some people fashion homemade ice packs out of ice cubes and a plastic bag, while others run cold water over a towel or lay a frozen gel pack over their head. But these methods inevitably create additional problems: the ice melts, you have to physically hold or balance the ice on your head and you can’t really go anywhere while you’re icing.
To help fix these problems, Lisa Jacobson, the founder of The Daily Migraine website and a migraineur herself, created the Migraine Hat. The hat features a soft adjustable band that wraps around your head, in which you place an ice gel pack that is also long enough to wrap around your head. There is also a separate piece that can be added to the top of your head, making the wrap look more like a ski beanie.
For $29.99, you get the hat, two sets of ice packs, and a drawstring storage bag. For an additional $30, you’ll also get a cooler bag that keeps ice packs cold on the go, and an additional ice pack.
We wanted to know what migraineurs really thought of the Migraine Hat, so we asked three Mighty contributors to test it out.
Meet the Reviewers
Adam McNulty: [I get] no auras. Light and sound sensitivity. Sharp pain usually starts above the left eye. It grows in intensity and migrates through the temple, over the ear and down to the base of the skull. The migraine breaks when the left goes almost numb and right side starts but is much less intense. The non-medication treatment I normally use is to wrap a T-shirt into a turban then jam ice in Ziploc sandwich bags between the shirt and scalp. Usually from temple to above the ear. It works well…except the leaks.
Lakshmi Rajagopalan: My migraines are usually debilitating, with intense, pounding pain, sensitivity to light and noise, accompanied by nausea and sometimes dizziness. I recently switched to naratriptan as [sumatriptan] was causing severe side effects. In addition, I try to use topical pain relief balms on my forehead and cold towels/ice packs. All these treatments are temporary.
Mesa Fama: I get hemiplegic migraines that leave me with stroke-like symptoms — aphasia, weakness on the left side of my body, and lots of brain fog. I also get migraines with aura to the point of blindness with shooting pain. My go-to is usually peppermint oil in my palms to cup around my nose to inhale and oil at the base of my head, naproxen, and half a cup of coffee or coke, in a dark room.
McNulty: Fits fairly well, easy to use. Instructions explained the setup well but it was easy enough to figure out without the included instruction. The optional top section keeps wanting to pop out when putting the “wrap part” on my head. I decided it’s not worth the effort while in pain.
Rajagopalan: The hat fit well and is comfortable and easy to use.
Fama: The hat fit fine, it was comfortable, the ease of use was just fine once I got the ice pack in. Getting the ice pack in wasn’t very easy — it required coordination that I don’t typically have when a migraine strikes.
Did It Work?
McNulty: [I was feeling] pounding pain, five-to-six on the left side. Light and sound sensitive. Very light headed and almost confused. Brain fogged. [After using the hat I felt] much more comfortable, dropped it to a three to four in pain within 20 minutes. Tolerable with the hat on.
It is much better than Ziploc bags. Usually, the Ziplocs end up bursting or leaking after I finally sleep or pass out. Then I wake up in a soaking wet bed. The ice packs are contained in a sturdy pack, no worries of them bursting. It’s very quick and easy to put on, minus the top cap, and I’m not having to suffer hearing the ice maker dispense cubes during a migraine. Not to mention the crunch/crinkling sound a Ziploc full of ice makes.
Rajagopalan: [My migraine was] pounding pain. The frozen gel packs in the hat acted much like a cold compress but because of the hat, it provided uniform coolness around the head. [It worked] better [than my usual methods] as the frozen gel packs last longer than cold compresses, not to mention removes the hassle of holding the cold compress to my forehead.
Fama: I was having slight aura and stabbing pain in the right side of my head. [After wearing the hat I felt] slightly better. There’s a numbing effect from the cold. It worked slightly better than my oil.
Likes and Dislikes
McNulty: Likes: convenient, quick to use, effective. Dislikes: very cold ears, ice packs are very stiff, large space between center and sides misses the front top of my temple. Wearing it backward, Velcro at my forehead, is much more comfortable for me as well as hitting all the right points on my scalp/head.
Rajagopalan: The hat is made of comfortable material and is not too cumbersome to wear. Looks and feels like a regular beanie. However, I wish the top cap of the hat had two Velcro strips to fix it to both sides of the hat.
Fama: I like the fit and the pressure it puts in just the right spots. Not a whole lot I didn’t like about it.
How It Could Be Made Better
McNulty: Ice packs are stiff so it’s uncomfortable to rotate the hat, so painful spots have direct contact. Not sure how to resolve that. I am thawing 1 of the ice packs where I am going to pop the ice cells that rest on the tops of my ears to see if that will help with the frozen ears.
Rajagopalan: I wish the top cap of the hat had two Velcro strips to fix it to both sides of the hat.
Fama: Thicker inside lining.
McNulty: I will definitely be using the Migraine Hat again. I have high hopes that I can reduce my triptans intake and try to use the hat.
Rajagopalan: I will use the hat again.
Fama: Yes, I’d use it again. It helped shield my eyes from light and fit nicely and aided in numbing my pain.
All hats were provided to The Mighty by the Migraine Hat free of charge.