BATHS AND BATHING.—From the medical point of view baths and bathing may be discussed along a number of lines. Cleanliness, exercise, pleasure, medicinal treatment, each or all may be in the mind of the bather. If the history of primitive peoples is considered, it would appear that they bathed very rarely. " Medicinal sweat baths " were not uncommon, how ever. Cleanliness seems to have been a more recent object. The early Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians often indulged in bathing, and the magnificent ruins of Roman baths testify to the lengths to which the idea of bathing was carried. The history of bathing, and the early opposition of the Christian Church because of the wantonness carried on in the Roman baths, is an extremely interesting phase of history. Cleanliness was far from being associated with godliness at one time.
For exercising and developing the body, bathing in rivers, lakes, and ponds is unquestionably one of the best methods. In suitable climates it may be practised throughout the year, but in the colder climates bathing in fresh water should not be indulged in too late in the season. It is true that many water fanatics bathe in the open also in winter, and for this purpose often cut a hole in frozen streams ; hut this custom could not be indulged in by everyone. If fanatics choose to bathe in frozen rivers, they are welcome to do so ; hut if it is maintained by them that this habit is healthy and recom mendable for all, such a position is hasty and ill-considered, if not foolish. Cold water baths in the open should be taken only by healthy, strong indi viduals. Children should also be induced early to bathe and to learn how to swim. Bathing is not advisable for girls and women while men struating, especially if this function is readily disturbed, or if the water is particularly cold. Bathing should not be indulged in after a full meal ; and great caution should be observed that the body does not become chilled, nor the muscles rigid from over-exertion. A quick, dry rub and brisk exercise are advisable after a bath, particularly if the outside air is below 70° F.
As remedial measures baths of various kinds are very often applied. The vessels for their application are of different sizes and shapes according to the immediate use to which they are put. Tubs for complete body baths are best placed on the floor, in which position assistance by another person may be most readily extended. Bath-tubs sunk below the level of the floor arc unpractical. In many establishments pools are provided, which are usually sufficiently large for swimming and meet practically the same indi cations as are associated with river bathing. One advantage which these indoor pools possess is the possibility of bringing the water up to any desired temperature, so that this form of bathing may be indulged in throughout the year in temperate climates. The one respect in which they fail when compared with the river baths is the fact that the contained' water is neces sarily not subjected to continuous changes. The amount of water required for an ordinary tub bath is from 4o to So gallons. Taken for purposes of cleanliness its temperature should be about q5° F. ; immersion should last about ten minutes, and may be followed if desired by a cold douche at 77° F. or less. Massage of the body may also be clone in the bath.
The initial temperature of a cool bath should be about 77° F. Cold tvater be slowly added, the outlet being opened sufficiently to keep the water at the same level. The degree to which the temperature is to be lowered had best be prescribed by the physician. Baths of this kind are given in illness to reduce fever, and for this purpose immersion for 5 to ro minutes is sufficient. After the bath, the temperature of the patient should be taken per rectum. Whenever it reaches F. C.) the bath may be repeated. The patient must be lifted from the bed into the tub and back into the bed again, and then thoroughly dried. These baths were first introduced by Dr. Bland in typhoid, but are now used in almost all febrile diseases.