This is also known as full bath. It is administered in a bath tub which should be properly fitted with hot and cold water connections. The bath can be taken at cold, neutral, hot, graduated and alternate temperatures.
Cold Immersion Bath
This may be taken for four seconds to 20 minutes at a temperature ranging from 100C to 23.80C. Before entering the bath, cold water should be poured on the patient’s head, chest and neck and the head should be protected with a cold moist towel. During the bath, the patient should vigorously rub his or her body. After the bath the body should be quickly dried and wrapped up in a blanket. If the climate is favourable, moderate exercise should be undertaken. This bath helps to bring down fever. It also improves the skin when taken for five to 15 seconds after a prolonged hot bath, by exhilarating circulation and stimulating the nervous system.
This bath should not be given to young children or very elderly persons, nor be taken in cases of acute inflammation of some internal organs such as acute peritonitis, gastritis, enteritis and inflammatory conditions of uterus and ovaries.
Neutral Immersion Bath
This bath can be given from 15 to 60 minutes at a temperature ranging from 260C to 280C. It can be given for long duration, without any ill-effects, as the water temperature is akin to the body temperature. The neutral bath diminishes the pulse rate without modifying respiration.
This treatment is the best sedative. Since the neutral bath excites activity of both the skin and the kidneys, it is recommended in cases relating to these organs. It is also beneficial for cases of organic diseases of the brain and spinal cord, including chronic inflammatory conditions such as meningitis, rheumatism and arthritis.
A neutral immersion bath taken for 30 to 60 minutes is highly beneficial in general dropsy, due to cardiac or renal diseases. It also helps those suffering from multiple neuritis, alcoholism and other narcotic habits, chronic diarrhoea, peritonitis and chronic affections of the abdomen. In such cases the bath may be given daily for 15 to 30 minutes. This bath is also useful in the toxemic conditions caused by dyspepsia and pruritus. The neutral bath should not be prescribed in certain cases of eczema and other forms of skin diseases where water aggravates the symptoms, nor in cases of extreme cardiac weakness.
Hot Immersion Bath
This bath can be taken from two to 15 minutes at a temperature from 36.60C to 400C. Generally this bath is started at 370C and the temperature is then gradually raised to the required level by adding hot water. Before entering the bath, the patient should drink cold water and also wet the head, neck and shoulders with cold water. A cold compress should be applied throughout the treatment. This bath can be advantageously employed in dropsy when there is excessive loss of tone of the heart and blood. This bath also relieves capillary bronchitis and bronchial pneumonia in children. It relieves congestation of the lungs and activates the blood vessels of the skin muscles. The bath should be terminated as soon as the skin becomes red.
In pneumonia and suppressed menstruation, the bath should be administered at 37.70C to 400C for about 30 to 45 minutes. This bath should be given when the menstruation is due and may be repeated for two to three days in succession. In dysmenorrhoea, this bath should be given at 380C to 44.40C for 15 minutes.
In chronic bronchitis a very hot bath taken for 5 to 7 minutes should be accompanied with rubbing and friction. This relieves congestion of the mucous membrane and provides immediate relief After the bath, oil should be applied to the skin if necessary.
The hot bath is a valuable treatment in chronic rheumatism and obesity. It gives immediate relief when there is pain due to stones in the gall bladder and the kidneys. The hot bath should not be taken in cases of organic diseases of the brain or spinal cord, nor in cases of cardiac weakness and cardiac hypertrophy.
Certain precautions are necessary while taking these therapeutic baths. Full baths should be avoided within three hours after a meal and one hour before it. Local baths like the hip bath and foot bath may, however, be taken two hours after a meal. Clean and pure water must be used for baths and water once used should not be used again. While taking baths, temperature and duration should be strictly observed to obtain the desired effects. A thermometer should always be used to measure the temperature of the body. Women should not take any of the baths during menstruation. They can take only hip baths during pregnancy till the completion of the third month.