Friday, July 4, 2014

Baths & Bathing Part 2 Cold & other types of Baths

This is the second part of the article which I posted last Friday.

I. Affusion of cold water over the surface of the body, has been adopted with success, for arresting the progress of some fevers. In scarlatina, &c, sponging the body with tepid water, or water mixed with vinegar, has been employed instead.

II. Air bath. a. (Cold.) The mere exposure of the body in a state of nudity to the atmosphere, forms the common air bath. It has been found useful in allaying slight degrees of febrile excitement, and to act as a mild tonic, when not too long continued.
b. (Hot.) This consists in placing the patient in an apartment to which heated air is admitted. It is generally considered to be more stimulant than the vapor bath; it produces a powerful perspiration, and has been recommended in cholera, congestive fevers, rheumatism, scaly skin-diseases, &.C.

III. Chlorine bath. Water holding in solution a small quantity of chlorine gas. Its action has not been much examined. I may mention here, that I have seen several cases of itch cured by two or three immersions in a warm bath, to which a little chloride of lime has been added.
IV. Cold bath. The temperature of this bath varies from 45° to 85°. It is considered tonic and stimulant, when not too long continued. To produce its full effects, the patient should feel a pleasant glow upon the surface of the body, immediately on coming out of the water. If a sensation of coldness or shivering follows, it should not be repeated. The duration of the immersion may vary from two minutes to a quarter of an hour, depending upon the temperature of the water, and the feelings of the bather; the latter period not being too long, provided swimming or violent exercise be adopted in the bath. The temperature of the water of the rivers, and on the coast of England, varies in summer from 55° to 70°.

The following hints on cold bathing may be interesting to the reader
1. "In using the cold bath, it is of essential I importance to know that there is no truth in the vulgar opinion, that it is safer to enter the water I when the body is cool, and that persons heated by exercise, and beginning to perspire, should wait till they are perfectly cooled.
"It is a rule liable to no exception, that moderate exercise ought always to precede cold bathing; for neither previous rest, nor exercise to a violent degree, is proper on this occasion.
2. "The duration of cold bathing ought to be short, and must be determined by the bodily constitution and sensation of the individual; for healthy persons may continue in it much longer than valetudinarians. In summer it may be enjoyed for an hour, when in spring or autumn, one or two minutes will be sufficient. Under similar circumstances, cold water acts on aged and lean persons with more violence than on the young and corpulent; hence the former, even in the hottest days of summer, can seldom with safety remain in the bath longer than a quarter of an hour; while the latter are generally able to sustain its impressions for a much longer period.
3. "The head should first come in contact with the water, either by immersion, by being showered upon, or by covering it for a minute with a wet cloth, and then plunging head foremost into the water.
4. "As the immersion will be less felt when it is effected suddenly, and as it is of consequence that the first impression should be uniform over the body, the bath ought not to be entered slowly or timorously, but with a degree of boldness. A contrary method, in some constitutions, is dangerous, as it propels the blood from the upper to the lower parts of the body, and thus predisposes to a fit of apoplexy. For these reasons, the shower bath is attended with considerable advantages, because it transmits the water quickly over the whole body.
5. "The morning is the proper time for using the cold bath, unless it be in a river; in which case the afternoon, or from one to two hours before sunset, will be more eligible. On the whole, one hour after a light breakfast, or two hours before, or four after dinner, are the best periods of the day for this purpose.
6. "While the bather is in the water, he should not remain inactive, but apply brisk and general friction, and move his arms and legs, to promote the circulation of the fluids from the heart to the extremities. It is extremely imprudent to continue in the water till a second chilliness attacks the body.
7. "Immediately after leaving the bath, it is nscessary that the bather should quickly wipe his body dry with a coarse dry cloth. He should not afterwards sit inactive, but if the season permit, he ought to take gentle exercise, till the usual circulation, and the customary action of the muscles, be restored.
8. "The best place for cold bathing is in the sea, or a clear river; but where neither of these can be conveniently had, the shower bath may be used.
9. "The principal advantages to be expected from cold bathing, besides the salutary exercise, •re either the reduction of excessive heat, or the
producing of a salutary reaction of the system. Ia the former, it has been found useful in several fevers. Affusion, however, in those cases, is most advisable, and more efficacious in reducing the morbid temperature, than immersion. But the cold affusion must not be employed in the cold stage. As soon as the hot fit is formed, the cold affusion is to be used immediately, and repeated occasionally. In the sweating stage, it is to be cautiously avoided.
"In nervous diseases, too, the cold bath has sometimes been of service.
"In gouty and rheumatic complaints, in diseases of the hip-joint, lumbago, or sciatica, after the removal of those complaints by the use of the vapor or hot bath, and in conjunction with other remedies, the alternation of the cold with the vapor bath fortifies the constitution against a return of such attacks.
10. "The best preparation for cold bathing, is to begin with a warm, then a tepid, and afterwards a cool bath; after this course the bather may in general plunge with safety into the cold bath. In most cases, a bath every second day, from the commencement of the warm bathing to the end of a fortnight, will be sufficiently frequent; afterwards the cold immersion may be continued daily."

V. The douche consists in the projection of a stream of cold water from a tube upon any part of the body. It is powerfully sedative, and has been long employed in inflammation of the brain. It should be used with caution, as its action is so powerful that a full inflammatory pulse frequently sinks into one almost imperceptible, in a very short Bpace of time. It is one of the principal methods of applying cold water adopted by the hydropathists.
VI. Medicated baths. These consist of water holding in solution various medicinal substances; as wine-baths, milk-baths, soup-baths—these have been used to convey nourishment to the body j sulphureous baths, mercurial baths, &c., used in skin diseases, syphilis, &c.; aromatic and chalybeate baths, employed as tonics; acid baths, sometimes used to remove the effects of mercury, &c.

VII. Nitromuriatic bath. Prep. Mix 3 fluid ounces of muriatic acid with 2 fluid ounces of nitric acid, and 5 fluid ounces of distilled water, and add 3 ounces of the above mixture to every gallon of water in the bath. Should the bath prick the skin, a little more water may be added.
Remarks. This bath was first introduced as a remedy for liver complaints. It must be contained in a wooden vessel, and may be used as a hip, knee, or foot-bath, a knee-bath being the one generally adopted in England. The inventor, Dr. Scott, once plunged the Duke of Wellington up to his chin in a bath of this kind in India, and thus cured him of a severe hepatic affection.

VIII. Sulphur bath. a. The patient is placed (not including the head) in a species of box, at the bottom of which is put a piece of hot iron, on which a little sulphur is thrown, great care being taken to avoid the escape of the fumes, and the inhalation of the same by either the patient or the attendants. Another method is to dissolve a little sulphuret of potassium in the water of a common warm bath. The proportion is 1 oz. of the sul phuret to 8 gallons of water. This form of the bath is not, however, quite as efficient as the gaseous one first described.
6. (Dupuytren's gelatino-sulphurous bath.) This is formed by dissolving 1 oz. of the sulphuret of potassium and 4 oz. of Flanders glue, in every 8 gallons of the water of a warm bath. It is an imitation of the celebrated waters of Bareges, the glue supplying the place of the baregine found in the latter.
Remarks. The sulphur-bath under any form is a powerful remedy in every description of skin disease. Leprosy, the most obstinate of all, has been cured by it. The common itch requires only one or two applications of the sulphur-bath to eradicate it entirely. All forms of scurf, whether on the face, head, or body, yield to its influence. Local irritation occasioned by minute pimples, or inflammatory patches of disordered skin, is speedily subdued and removed. Scrofula, and also those affections for which the warm or vapor baths have been recommended, will derive powerful assistance from the sulphur-bath.

IX. Tepid bath. The temperature of this bath varies from 85° to 92° Fahr., 88° being considered a medium temperature. Its action on the body is intermediate between that of the warm and cold baths, and is admirably adapted for the purposes of cleanliness, and promoting the healthy action of the skin. It is frequently employed as a preparative to cold bathing.

X. The warm bath has a temperature of from 92° to 100° Fahr., or about that of the human body.
Remarks. The warm bath is at once the most luxurious and effective mode of bathing, and if taken under proper restrictions, is highly conducive to health. If only on the grounds of personal cleanliness, this species of bathing has the highest claim on our attention. "The sensations attendant upon immersion in a warm bath are most delicious. Its effect is, first to increase the circulation of the blood, and to determine it to the skin; after a few minutes an agreeable and universal increase of heat is experienced; the face, and forehead generally, are soon bedewed with perspiration: a pleasing and prevailing calm is felt, mentally and physically; and after remaining in some 12 or 15 minutes, coming out and dressing, the refreshing feeling and consciousness of personal purity give rise to associations of the most happy character. The warm bath may be taken at any time during the day: it is perhaps better to employ it upon an empty stomach, or before a meal, rather than after one. The temperature should be from 98° to 100° ; the time of immersion should not exceed 15 minutes. The old idea that it is relaxing, is erroneous, except where persons remain in for hours, as some people do, or where it is taken too often."
The warm bath, in a medical point of view, is especially adapted to general torpor of the system, liver and bowel complaints, hypochondriasis, hysterical affections, morbid suppressions, dry skin, nearly all cutaneous and nervous diseases, chronic rheumatism, &c. As a tonic or stimulant after excessive fatigue, great mental excitement, or physical exertion, it is unequalled, and furnishes one of the most wholesome, and at the same time I
luxurious sources of refreshment we are acquainted with.

XI. The vapor-bath consists in vapor being admitted to the apartment, and thus not only is tha body immersed in it, but it is inhaled as well. It is used at different temperatures, known by the name of tepid, when the temperature varies from 90° to 100°; warm, when from 100° to 112°; and hot, from 110° to 130°; but when the vapor is not inhaled, the heat of the latter may be raised to 160°.

Remarks. The principal action of the vaporbath is to produce a copious diaphoresis. In fact, it is the most powerful diaphoretic agent known. It is a certain specific for a cold; and in all those eases wherein warm bathing is recommended, the vapor-bath ranks highest. It constitutes the most powerful pharmaceutical remedy existent: combined with friction, or shampooing, its utility in cases requiring an additional action, as in contracted muscles, tendons, &c, is much increased; "and instances are numerous, where the lame have thrown aside their crutches, and the bedridden have again mixed with the world, after a few applications of this bath." "It is no uncommon thing to hear a patient start and shriek with agony before entering the bath, and to receive his congratulations and thanks on his coming out: they will oftentimes exclaim,—' It is wonderful! I could not have believed it—/ am well—I can walk—-I can jump .''"
The vapor-bath is administered in chronic rheumatism, stiff joints, long-continued indigestion, gout, lumbago, sciatica, scrofulous swellings, fever, skiu diseases, &c, but should be avoided in acute inflammations, and for persons of a very full and excitable habit of body.

XII. The shower-bath. This may be regarded as a modification of the cold bath or plunge bath, and its effects are similar. The cold shower-bath is however less alarming to nervous persons, and less liable to produce cramp, than cold immersion: it may be considered as the best and safest mode of cold bathing, and is recommended in many nervous complaints. It has also afforded relief in some cases of insanity.

Where the saving of expense is an object, or a regular shower-bath is not to be procured, a large common watering-pot filled with cold water may be used as a substitute. Let the patient sit undressed upon a stool, which may be placed in a large tub, and pour the water from the pot over the head, face, neck, shoulders, and all parts of the body, progressively down to the feet, until the whole has been thoroughly wetted.


  1. To think what I've been missing when I only use water in its natural state. Next time I find myself succumbing to hysteria, or morbidity, I shall follow the above directions. (In your dreams!)

    Thanks Lyn that was so entertaining. I'm an Aussie writing historical romance in the Victorian era, so I'l be sure to follow this informative blog of yours.

  2. LOL it was a fun article to share, Rita.