seawater bath

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The medium and method of cleansing the body or any part of it, or treating it therapeutically as with air, light, vapor, or water. The temperature of the cleansing bath for a bed patient should be about 95°F (35°C) with a room temperature of 75° to 80°F (23.9° to 26.7°C).

Therapeutic Effect

Warm and hot baths and applications soothe both the mind and the body. Gradually elevated hot tub and vapor baths relax all the muscles of the body. Hot baths promote vasodilation in the skin, drawing blood from the deeper tissues, and also help to relieve pain and stimulate nerves. Cold baths and applications abstract heat and stimulate reaction, esp. if followed by brisk rubbing of the skin. Cold constricts small blood vessels when applied locally. See: hydrotherapy

alcohol bath

Application of a diluted alcohol solution to the skin as a stimulant and defervescent.

alkaline bath

A bath in which 8 oz (227 g) of sodium bicarbonate or washing soda is added to 30 gal (114 L) of water.

alum bath

A bath using alum in washing solution as an astringent.

aromatic bath

A bath to which some volatile oil, perfume, or herb is added.

astringent bath

Bathing in liquid containing an astringent, such as alum or tannic acid.

bed bath

A bath for a patient confined to bed.

Patient care

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.

bland bath

Bath containing substances such as starch, bran, or oatmeal for the relief of skin irritation; an emollient bath.

brine bath

Saline bath.

bubble bath

A bath in which the water contains many small bubbles produced mechanically as by an air pump or chemically by bubble bath preparations.


Perfumes used in bubble baths may cause cystitis, skin irritation, and vaginitis, esp. in children.

carbon dioxide bath

An effervescent saline bath consisting of water, salts, and carbon dioxide (CO2). The natural CO2 baths are known as Nauheim baths.

cold bath

A bath in water at a temperature below 65°F (18.3°C).

colloid bath

Emollient bath.

complete bed bath

A bath in which the entire patient is bathed.
Synonym: full bath

continuous bath

A bath administered for an extended period but seldom for longer than several hours. It is used in treating hypothermia or hyperthermia and certain skin diseases.

contrast bath

Alternate immersion of hands or feet in hot water (1 min) then cold water (30 sec) for a prescribed length of time to promote circulation. The initial water temperature should be maintained throughout the bath, and the bath should end with immersion in cold water.

emollient bath

A bath used for irritation and inflammation of skin and after erysipelas. Synonym: colloid bath
See: glycerin bath; oatmeal bath; powdered borax bath; starch bath

foam bath

A tub bath to which an extract of a saponin-containing vegetable fiber has been added. Oxygen or carbon dioxide is driven through this mixture to create foam.

foot bath

Immersion of the feet and legs to a depth of 4 in (10 cm) above the ankles in water at 98°F (36.7°C).

full bath

Complete bed bath.

glycerin bath

A bath consisting of 10 oz (300 ml) of glycerin added to 30 gal (114 L) water.

herb bath

A full bath to which is added a mixture of 1 to 2 lb (454 to 907 g) of herbs such as chamomile, wild thyme, or spearmint tied in a bag and boiled with 1 gal (3.8 L) of water.

hip bath

Sitz bath.

hot bath

A tub bath with the water covering the body to slightly above the nipple level. The temperature is gradually raised from 98°F (36.7°C) to the desired degree, usually to 108°F (42.2°C).

hot air bath

Exposure of the entire body except the head to hot air in a bath cabinet.

hyperthermal bath

A bath in which the whole body except the head is immersed in water from 105° to 120°F (40.6° to 48.9°C) for 1 to 2 min.

kinetotherapeutic bath

A bath given for underwater exercises of weak or partially paralyzed muscles.

lukewarm bath

A bath in which the patient's body except the head is immersed in water from 94° to 96°F (34.4° to 35.6°C) for 15 to 60 min.

medicated bath

A bath to which substances such as bran, oatmeal, starch, sodium bicarbonate, Epsom salts, pine products, tar, sulfur, potassium permanganate, and salt are added.

milk bath

A bath taken in milk for emollient purposes.

mud bath

The use of mud in order to apply moist heat.

mustard bath

A stimulative hot foot bath consisting of a mixture of 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of dry mustard in a quart (946 ml) of hot water added to a pail or large basin filled with water of 100° to 104°F (37.8° to 40°C).

Nauheim bath

A bath in which the body is immersed in warm water through which carbon dioxide is bubbled.

needle bath

Whirlpool bath.

neutral bath

A bath in which no circulatory or thermic reaction occurs, temperature 92° to 97°F (33.3° to 36.1°C).

neutral sitz bath

Same as sitz bath, except temperature is 92° to 97°F (33.3° to 36.1°C) or for foot bath 104° to 110°F (37.8° to 40°C), duration 15 to 60 min.

oatmeal bath

A bath consisting of 2 to 3 lb (907 g to 1.4 kg) oatmeal added to 30 gal (114 L) water.

oxygen bath

A bath given by introducing oxygen into the water through a special device that is connected to an oxygen tank.

paraffin bath

A bath used to apply topical heat to traumatized or inflamed limbs. The limb is repeatedly immersed in warm paraffin, 118° to 126°F (47.8° to 52.2°C), and quickly withdrawn until it is encased in layers of the material. Paraffin may be applied with a paintbrush for larger joints.

powdered borax bath

Bath consisting of 1 2 lb (227 g) added to 30 gal (114 L) water; 5 oz (150 ml) glycerin may be added.

saline bath

Bath given in artificial seawater made by dissolving 8 lb (3.6 kg) of sea salt or a mixture of 7 lb (3.2 kg) of sodium chloride and 1 2 lb (227 g) of magnesium sulfate in 30 gal (114 L) of water. Synonym: brine bath; salt bath; seawater bath

salt bath

Saline bath.

sauna bath

A hot, humid atmosphere created in a small enclosed area (often paneled in cedar) by pouring water on rocks heated, e.g., by an electric heater.

seawater bath

Saline bath.

sedative bath

A prolonged warm bath. A continuous flow of water as well as an air cushion or back rest may be used.

sheet bath

A bath given by wrapping the patient in a sheet previously dipped in water 80° to 90°F (26.7° to 32.2°C), and by rubbing the whole body with vigorous strokes on the sheet.

sitz bath

The immersion of thighs, buttocks, and abdomen below the umbilicus in water. In a hot sitz bath the water is first 92°F (33.3°C) and then elevated to 106°F (41.1°C). Synonym: hip bath

sponge bath

A bath in which the patient is not immersed in a tub but washed with a washcloth, sponge, or antibacterial wipes.

starch bath

A bath consisting of 1 lb (454 g) of starch mixed into cold water, with boiling water added to make a solution of gluelike consistency, then added to 30 gal (114 L) of water.

stimulating bath

A bath that increases cutaneous blood flow.
See: cold bath; mustard bath; saline bath

sun bath

Exposure of all or part of the nude body to sunlight.


Direct exposure of the skin to sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet energy increases the risk of skin cancer.

sweat bath

A bath given to induce perspiration.

towel bath

A bath given by applying towels dipped in water 60° to 70°F (15.6° to 21.1°C) to the arms, legs, and anterior and posterior surfaces of trunk, and then removing the towels and drying the parts.

whirlpool bath

A therapeutic stainless steel, fiberglass, or plastic tank that uses turbines to agitate and aerate water into which the body, or part of it, is immersed. Tanks come in various sizes to accommodate treatment of different body parts (Hubbard and “low boy” tanks for full-body treatments or extremity tanks for arm or leg treatments). Water temperature selection varies depending on the condition of the patient and the desired therapeutic outcome. Cold whirlpools (ranging from 50°–79°F) are useful in treating acute inflammation. Tepid whirlpools (79°–92°F) are used to facilitate early therapeutic exercise. Neutral temperatures (92°–96°F) are generally indicated for treatment of wounds or for patients who have circulatory, cardiac, or sensory disorders or neurological changes in muscle tone. Hot whirlpools (99°–110°F) are beneficial in relieving pain, increasing soft tissue extensibility, and treating chronic conditions such as arthritis. In general, whirlpool temperatures should not exceed 110° to 115°F because of risk of burns.
Synonym: needle bath
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
Temperature-adjusted seawater was fed to a series of seawater baths (i.e., 1x1x0.5 m square tanks): four replicates of temperature treatments at 2[degrees], 5[degrees], and 9[degrees]C and three replicates at 12[degrees]C; n=15 total tanks.
They built monumental (and expensive) health spas offering suntanning, mineral water and seawater baths, massages, diets, and an obligatory "dead hour" for naps.
The seawater baths at Stonehaven, beside the bone-chilling North Sea, are back in vogue as lidos the length and breadth of Britain stage a comeback.