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What is a Wax Dip?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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A wax dip is a treatment for muscle and joint diseases such as arthritis. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints that causes joint pain and discomfort. Wax dips may help soothe even severe arthritic pain. The wax dip method of treating arthritic pain is also thought to possibly help increase blood circulation to the skin.

People with nerve damage such as some diabetics should first get their doctor’s permission before using a wax dip to treat muscle or joint pain. This is important as wax dips may actually limit circulation rather than improve it in people with nerve damage, or neuropathy. Signs of damage to the nerves may include numbness and a prickly feeling in the hands, feet or other areas of the body. However, with some types of neuropathy there may be no noticeable symptoms, so checking with a doctor is vital — especially for diabetics.

The wax dip treatment method uses melted mineral or paraffin waxes. Depending on which joints are affected, hands, feet, elbows or knees may be dipped into the warm melted wax. A towel is used to cover the waxed area so that the heat from the wax stays close to the skin. The wax’s warmth can help soothe aching joints. After the wax hardens and cools, it is peeled off and usually discarded; sometimes it’s reheated and reused instead.

Wax dips may be made at home, but most people buy commercial treatments through wellness stores or pharmacies. Wax dip treatment services are available at salons and spas — especially ones targeting older people as their customer base. For instance, some spas offer wax baths in which the entire body, except the face and head, is wax-dipped. Wax baths can be especially soothing and therapeutic for those who experience joint or muscle pain in several different areas of the body.

People with sensitive skin may not find relief from using a wax dip. Rather, they could experience inflamed skin. If a person isn’t sure if his or skin will tolerate wax dips well, it’s a good idea to test only a small area such as one finger. Wax dips should never be applied to open sores, over rashes or on skin irritations of any type.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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