The importance of ablutions especially packs is so great that it is necessary to give further explanations concerning them:
In a general way, it is necessary to apply a bath or an ablution (See Form 23) when the test with the thermometer, usually applied under the tongue, in arm-pit or in the rectum, shows that the temperature of the patient exceeds 100 degrees. The patient grows restless, his skin feels dry and the pulse, which regularly is 70 to 80 with adults, 90 to 100 with children, and about 130 with infants, shows an increased speed. As soon as these symptoms appear, they indicate that the immediate cooling off of the body by means of a bath, an ablution or a pack is necessary. Adults will always show the desire for such instinctively.
In extreme cases baths or ablutions should be administered several times every day.
Healthy people perspire as soon as they become too hot. This means that they cool off through the evaporation of the perspiration. This is supplemented by the bath and its cooling effect; balancing the higher temperature of the body with the lower temperature of the water, brings this about. The blood which flows towards the skin during the bath is cooled off, and returns in this condition to the interior of the body, and is immediately followed by other quantities of blood.
Since the blood circulates through the body about twice every minute, the cooling takes place from 20 to 24 times during a bath, lasting from 10 to 12 minutes. This explains the soothing and cooling effect of the bath on the waves of blood and the nerves, which are irritated by the increased temperature.
At the same time the bath opens the pores which assist in the excretion of degenerated matter produced by the disease, and fosters the reception of oxygen.
It is a natural function of the body that an increased flow of the warming blood flies always to any region of the body which is assailed by external cold, so that such parts may not become too cold or, in common parlance, may not “catch” cold.
This explains why the hands get red and hot after throwing snow-balls, the feet burn after a cold foot bath.
As soon as the body, which is hot with fever, is put into the cool bath, the first effect is that the blood-vessels of the skin contract under the cooling influence. The blood recedes. Soon, however, it streams with renewed energy to the skin to defeat the cold. The first action,—the recession of the blood,—is followed by reaction or increased activity of circulation towards the skin. This removes the pressure of the blood upon the overburdened internal organs, such as the brain, the lungs and the heart. The blood is diverted.
For ablutions the water should be cool or lukewarm, the exact temperature to be determined by the strength of the patient. Some vinegar should be added to the water, taking two parts water and one part vinegar.