Baths are useful for several purposes-for cleanliness, for warming or cooling the body, for stimulating the skin, and for applying certain medicaments externally.
Robust persons may, with advantage, indulge in the morning cold bath or sponge down. But it should be suspended in the event of their having a cold. During the period with women the bath must be suspended. Infants who are strong and robust may have a daily bath, tepid or warm; but when there is any delicacy the daily washing should be confined to the exposed parts, and a complete bath be given not oftener than once a week.
This rule also applies to delicate adults.
Sea-salt may be added to the water of the morning bath in such quantity as to make it like sea-water.
This increases the stimulating effects on the skin, and also tends to prevent chilling afterwards.
The Hip bath is given tepid or cold. The patient must sit in about twelve inches of water, and be warmly covered, the feet especially being kept warm. When given tepid the patient should sit in it from ten to twenty minutes, when cold from two to ten minutes. The tepid bath is useful for relieving congestion of the pelvic organs; the cold bath is tonic to them.
The Foot bath is usually given hot, and is useful in colds. The cold foot bath is useful in determination of blood to the head, but must never be given for longer than one or two minutes.
Packs are a form of bath. A sheet, wrung out of hot or cold water (as the case may be), is laid on blankets, and the patient placed on the sheet. This is rapidly wrapped round him and the blankets over it, other blankets being placed over these to retain all the bodily heat. Partial packs of any locality of the body (as the throat) are given in the same way. A small piece of linen dipped in water, wrung nearly dry, is placed on the part and several folds of flannel over this.
Hot air baths are useful for inducing perspirations where the skin does not act well in cases where it is more than usually important that it should, as in kidney diseases. A cradle is placed over the patient, and hot air introduced form an apparatus made for the purpose. Turkish baths have a similar action, and are preferable when they can be obtained. They are useful in many rheumatic conditions.