1. a medium, e.g., water, vapor, sand, or mud, with which the body is washed or in which the body is wholly or partially immersed for therapeutic or cleansing purposes; application of such a medium to the body.
2. the equipment or apparatus in which a body or object may be immersed.
bed bath the cleansing of a patient in bed. A complete bed bath indicates that someone must totally wash a patient, as is done with an unconscious patient. A partial bed bath is one in which the patient is not totally dependent but is given a basin, soap, and water, as well as any assistance needed to maintain good hygiene.
bath blanket a flannel covering used to prevent chilling when administering a bed bath.
colloid bath a medicated bath prepared by adding soothing agents to the bath water such as gelatin, starch, or bran in order to relieve skin irritation and itching. The patient is dried by patting rather than rubbing the skin. Care must be taken to avoid chilling.
contrast bath alternate immersion of a part in hot water and cold water.
cool bath one in water from 18° to 24°C (65° to 75°F).
emollient bath a bath in a soothing and softening liquid, used in various skin disorders.
a colloid bath
containing oatmeal, used for treatment of dermatoses to soothe the skin and relieve itching.
the dipping of a limb into a warm solution of paraffin
, or the brushing of paraffin onto the skin, to provide pain relief and increase mobility.
immersion of only the hips and buttocks, done to relieve pain and discomfort following rectal surgery, cystoscopy, or vaginal surgery; sitz baths also may be ordered for patients with cystitis or infections in the pelvic cavity. Temperature for a hot sitz bath is started at 35°C (95°F) and gradually increased to 40 to 43°C (104° to 110°F). The patient must be watched for fatigue and faintness, and an attendant must remain within calling distance. Cool compresses to the head or cool drinks during the bath promote comfort and relieve faintness.
Disposable sitz bath. From Lammon et al., 1995.
sponge bath one in which the patient's body is not immersed but is wiped with a wet cloth or sponge; this is most often done for reduction of body temperature in presence of fever, in which case the water used is cool.
tepid bath one in water 24° to 33°C (75° to 92°F).
warm bath one in water just under body temperature, 33° to 37°C (92° to 98°F).
whirlpool bath one in which the water is kept in constant motion by mechanical means and has a massaging action that can promote improved circulation and relaxation; often used in the treatment of soft tissue injuries and management of open wounds such as burns.
A bath for a patient confined to bed.
All necessary equipment is assembled, the room temperature is adjusted to a comfortable level, and the room is checked for drafts. While shielding the patient, the health care provider removes the top covers and replaces them with a bath blanket for the patient's physical warmth. The patient's ability to bathe independently is assessed, and the patient is encouraged to do so to the extent possible and permitted. Bathing may be accomplished using prepackaged disposable cloths impregnated with a no-rinse cleansing agent (heated in the microwave), various sized towels wet in warm water and wrung well prior to application or a basin of water which should be comfortably warm, 110° to 120°F (43.3° to 48.1°C), and changed as often as necessary to maintain the desired temperature and to permit thorough rinsing. The entire body, including the perineal area and genitalia, is washed, rinsed (if soap used), and dried thoroughly, one area at a time. Although traditional bathing has been done from the head downward toward the toes, with genitalia bathed last, use of prepared disposable cloths or towels for separate areas allows the care provider to bathe the patient in any order desired: for instance, demented patients may become upset by having their faces washed but accept bathing that begins with upper or lower extremities. Whatever method is employed, the patient should remain covered except for the area being bathed. After the bath, lotion may be applied to the skin (if not contraindicated), a clean gown is applied, and the patient's hair is combed or brushed. Oral hygiene is performed in conjunction with bathing. The bed is usually remade with clean linens at this time or following removal of the patient from bed to chair. The health care provider assists as needed with any part of this care. When bathing obese patients, drying of skin folds may be facilitated by using a handheld hair dryer on warm, taking care not to injure the skin in any way. Researchers have shown that bathing patients in ICU settings with disposable clothes saturated with 2% chlorhexidine gluconate reduces contamination rates from vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), a common nosocomial infection, for both patients’ skin and the ICU environment (object surfaces, health care providers’ hands, et al), leading to less frequent infection. Additional hair care (shampoo, wet and dry shampoo products, styling) is provided as necessary, following protocols.