This is the first of two posts on Baths & Bathing taken from "A Family Medicine Directory ©1854 by Charles Dinneford.
BATHS AND BATHING.
The simplest and most natural division of Baths is into hot and cold; the former comprehending all those which occasion the feeling of heat, the latter all which communicate the sensation of cold. The following arrangement of Baths according to temperature, is likely to be generally useful:—
1 The cold bath 60° to 70°
2 The temperate hath 75° to 85°
8 The tepid bath 85° to 92°
4 The warm bath 92° to 98°
5 The hot bath 98° to 112°
THE COLD BATH.
As a preventative of the numerous diseases produced by cold, or rather by variations of temperature, the cold bath excels all other measures. In the numerous variations of catarrhal disorders it is frequently of extreme value. It obviously acts, too, in warding off these diseases; in the first place, as a tonic to the whole system, thereby rendering it less easily affected by deleterious influences from without. Secondly, it strengthens, in a peculiar manner, the skin and the mucous membranes of the air passages, on which part the morbific impressions, producing catarrh, are generally made. In the third place, by accustoming the surface to a frequent change of temperature, it renders it less liable to suffer from those which are unavoidable, and which are known to be the common cause of colds. The same observations apply, in a great measure, to rheumatism, chilblains, and other diseases produced by the same causes.
THE WARM BATH.
The following are a few of the cases in which the warm bath is highly beneficial:—
1.—In fatigue after great muscular exertion, particularly if long continued; in those cases the body should be allowed time to cool before the bath is taken, and the temperature of this should not be higher than is absolutely necessary to produce the desired effects. In general 94°, 95°, or 96° will be sufficiently high.
2.—After a long journey, more particularly in the case of persons of a delicate or feverish habit. Travelling for several successive days, even in the easiest carriage, and on the best roads, produces, in almost every person, dryness of skin, irregular distribution of blood, defective secretion and excretion, general irritation of the nervous system, and a slight degree of feverish heat; in all such cases the warm bath is an invaluable remedy.
3.—After long continued and mental excitement and loss of sleep, as in studious labours ; and after great bodily exertion and activity of the external senses, as many departments of public and professional life impose, the warm bath is very beneficial.
The warm bath is of essential benefit in many diseases, but it is unnecessary here to speak of bathing medicinally, the only object being to offer a few suggestions for the guidance of persons in health.
Period Of Stay In The Bath.—Speaking generally, a quarter of an hour may be said to be the shortest period, an hour the longest, and twenty-five minutes to half an hour the medium.
THE TEPID BATH.
The effects of the tepid bath are similar in kind to those of the warm bath, but inferior in degree. The tepid bath is less pleasant, less animating, less soothing; it possesses neither the direct stimulus of the warm, nor the indirect stimulus of the cold bath, and in its medical effects may be taid to occupy a middle position between the temperate and warm baths.
THE HOT BATH.
The application of the hot hath is exclusively therapeutical, and its employment, consequently, circumscribed; tbe propriety of its use must, therefore, be determined by the practitioner.
THE VAPOUR BATH.
The vapour bath is applicable in most cases of chronic, rheumatism and gout, in some cutaneous affections, and in slight colds from checked perspiration; the general effects of the vapour bath are those of a powerful stimulant and sudorific, followed by a feeling of languor and tendency to sleep; it seems that a much higher temperature can be borne in the vapour, than in the warm bath, and that the exhalation and consequent exhaustion is also less.
The Medicated Vapour Bath.—Is prepared by impregnating aqueous vapour with the odour of medicinal plants. There is no good reason, however, for supposing that it possesses any advantage over the simple vapour bath.
Tomorrow continues with a long post on Sea Bathing.