What does RICE stand for in first aid?

What does RICE stand for in first aidRICE is a common acronym / mnemonic used to remember the first aid treatment for a sprain or a strain. So what does RICE stand for? 


Resting the injury is the first step in treating a sprain or a strain.

A injury to muscles or ligaments can be made significantly worse if the injured area is put under more stress.

Resting an injury allows the body’s natural healing mechanisms to work to repair the damage caused to the soft tissue.


Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the injured area can help reduce the pain from inflammation.

Cold will cause blood vessels around the injury to constrict and reduce the inflammation and swelling.

Be careful not to apply very cold items directly to the skin as this can cause freeze burns! Try to limit cold compresses to 10 – 20 minutes at a time. 


Compression bandages can also help to reduce swelling and provide support to the injured area.

A variety of products are available from ‘do it yourself’ elastic bandages to custom made supports. 

Be careful not to apply compression too tightly – this can cut off circulation beyond the bandage! 


Finally gravity is a very useful first aid tool. Elevating the injured area will reduce inflammation and therefore reduce pain. 

In summary….RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

You may see PRICE used instead of RICE. The P stands for Protecting the area from further injury. 


John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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