3 Pathu or Forehead Packs for Cold and Congestion in Babies


Pathu or forehead packs are excellent to help kids sleep better during cold and congestion.

Pathu is a popular South Indian home remedy for cold and nasal congestion. It has been found effective for babies of 6 months and above, even for adults.

The basic idea of Pathu is to remove the accumulated water from head and face, which exerts pain in the forehead, ears, nose and throat indirectly.

pathu or forehead packs

Pathu or forehead packs as home remedy for cold and congestion in babies:

When you move your neck while having cold, you can feel a kind of pain in forehead and ears, making us feel uncomfortable and fussy. The water accumulated in nose is what causes the discomfort to breathe, or what we call a stuffy nose. We sneeze frequently to get some relief.

Pathu comes handy for children, who has not mastered the art of sneezing, may be until they are 3. And also for kids who suffer a lot of breathing problems especially during sleep.

3 Types of pathu or forehead packs during cold and congestion:

All pathu materials are usually available at home/ locally and hence a cold can be treated well within a week, with the help of these forehead packs.

  1. Vibhuthi (Holy Ash) pack:
Vibuthi pack

Vibuthi pack

Take 2 to 3 pinches of vibuthi, basmam or holy ash in an iron ladle, or any thick steel ladle. Add a spoon of water to it.

Boil this on low gas flame, stirring with a spoon. When it reaches a paste consistency, (not too watery, nor too thick like toothpaste) remove from flame and let it cool a bit. When it is warm enough for your fingers, it is ready for application.

Microwave method:

Take  vibuthi and water mix in a microwave safe small bowl and heat on medium or high for 1 minute. Check the consistency after a minute and if it is still watery, heat one more time.

Since the content is less, keep in mind that the bowl edges are hotter, so take care while taking out the bowl from the device.

  1. Namakkatti or gopi chandan pack:

Gopi chandan is available in the form of a hard stick in most pooja stores.

Take a chandan stone or any grinding stone, and rub the gopi stick, adding a little warm water. Take the paste in a spoon or small cup. This has to be applied when it is warm.

Microwave method:

Scrap a little bit of namakkatti or gopi stick using a knife or spoon. Mix this with a spoon of water and mix it with your finger.

Check for any blocks/ pieces.  The whole mixture is smooth. Heat this in microwave in the same above method.

When you do not have the above items at home, the below comes in for rescue.

  1. Neerkovai Mathirai:


Many use turmeric paste for this pack. But I prefer this store bought pack, available in IMPCOPS or any other Ayurvedic pharmacy.

This has mix herbs namely turmeric, kasturi turmeric (musk turmeric), fried borax, sambiraani or dhoop powder, pepper, dry ginger, nutmeg, ajwain, clove, camphor and lemon juice. Usually it comes in the form of capsules/ tablets.

Take 1 or 2 tablets and keep immersed in water for some time prior to applying. After about 30 minutes, take the tablet and mix it with hot water making it a smooth paste. The paste can be made warm by keeping the bowl in boiling water or using a microwave.

How to apply these forehead packs for cold, cough and congestion:

Kids until 3 years do not co-operate for getting this pack applied. Hence apply this once they go to sleep.

Apply after 30 minutes of sleep, ie before the stuffiness in nose develops and disturbs their sleep.

Apply all over the forehead, above the eye brows and until the sides of the eyes. And also a small amount on nose.

forehead packs

Make it a medium thick layer, ie when the skin color is not seen through the pack. This starts to dry very fast and absorbs the water content accumulated in the forehead and nose, thereby helping the kid sleep well.

Precautions while applying neerkovai mathirai:

  • Wait and watch until the wet pack dries, as small children may keep their hands over and remove or make the pack move into their eyes.
  • Make sure, not to apply the pack too thick, as it might fall off after getting dried.
  • Make sure the paste is perfectly smooth, and no solid pieces are in it. The solid pieces make the dried pack fall off easily.

Frequency of pack application:

Apply during their longer day time sleep and night. Not useful for smaller naps, since they might wake up soon before it is dried. And try this for 4 days for more depending on the stuffiness.

How to clean this pack:

Take a cotton ball or a clean soft cotton cloth. Dip this is hot water and gently press on the pack to make it wet again.

Dip it again in hot water, and slowly wipe off the pack from head and nose. It can be hot enough for your hand tolerance, which also gives a relief for the kids.

Some methods to help kids sleep well in cold:

When my son does not co-operate to take steam treatment, the below methods came for my help.

Along with pack, there are some remedies I follow for the kid’s good sleep.

Applying the vaporub on the chest and massaging on top of it with a hot towel.

If you have an electric hot pillow (We get this nowadays in online shops, in small size), cover it with a cloth and then gently press on the chest several times. Heat it and repeat again for 10 minutes. This loosens the phlegm and stuffiness is released.

I also fold a cloth and heat one side using an electric iron and gently massage on chest. This way my son never had problem while sleeping.

Do not try the towel dipped in hot water, it does not become handy before their sleep. And also their body becomes chill due to wetness.

When kids are suffering from cold, apply the vaporub on chest and back before giving them bath. When warm water is poured on this, it releases the vapor and gives a relief from nose stuffiness. After the bath gently try to sneeze or clean the nose with a soft towel.

These are some of the harmless home treatments I follow for baby during cold and congestion.

You can also read about the 21 home remedies for cold and 4 ways to use ajwain help to cure cold, cough and congestion in babies.

Hope this article on pathu or forehead packs for cold and congestion in babies was beneficial. Let me know in comments the home remedies you use for your little one’s cold, cough and congestion.


About Author

Durga is a software professional turned home maker, currently living in Germany, with husband and almost 4 year old son Jayadev. She wants to share every bit of parenting ideas that is being gathered over the mom-years for the benefit of new parents.


  1. Hi ,
    I tried the neerkovai maathirai paathu for my daughter, how long does it take to start noticing a difference? I have only used it twice so far!

  2. Hi, sangeetha,

    thanks for the very useful tips I am definitely gone try this on my daughter when she catches cold.

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