A Series of Articles on What the Amateur Nurse Should Know

Sick-room Remedies and How to Prepare Them - Fomentations - Linseed, Bread, and Mustard Poultices - Cleansing Properties of Poultices When Made of Charcoal, Boracic, or Yeast - A "Jacket" Poultice - Spongio-piline - Rules to be Observed in the Application of all Poultices

At this stage of studying the art of nursing, the making the most commonly used and most useful remedies in the sick-room should be carefully considered. Every woman ought to know how to make a poultice as well as any hospital nurse can make it. She should understand what simple remedies can be applied for pain, and how she can counteract chill by domestic measures. Perhaps the most valuable remedy available to doctor or nurse is "heat." Heat is a sedative in that it soothes pain. It is curative, also, in many inflammatory conditions because it relieves congestion. It is a safe remedy for sickness, and a valuable measure in the sick-room. It may be applied externally, either as dry heat or as moist heat.

The Value of Heat as a Remedy

A hot flannel is, perhaps, the simplest type of dry heat, which is extremely useful in neuralgias, lumbago, etc. Then one can utilise flannel bags filled with sand, bran, or salt heated in the oven. A hot brick or a hot plate can be used in the same way, a layer of thin flannel being wrapped round it. When the patient is chilled or suffering from "shock," which we shall consider later ordinary bottles filled with hot water and applied to the feet and legs is the very best treatment " for the condition.

The commonest examples of moist heat are fomentations and poultices, and these are utilised when the softening effect of moisture is desired, as in inflammation of the tissues. When large, hot poultices are applied in the early stages of inflammation, the condition is sometimes cut short, and suppuration prevented.

And let us consider the best and most expeditious way of making these remedies.

How to Make a Fomentation

A fomentation consists of a piece of flannel or woollen material wrung out of boiling water. It is simply useless waste of time to make warm fomentations. They must be hot if they are to be of any real service. Now, as it is an apparent impossibility for any person to wring flannel out of boiling water, what is the correct way of accomplishing this?

The basin is placed on the table, and a roller towel laid across it. The piece of flannel is folded to the required size and placed on the towel. Then boiling water is poured from the kettle (Fig. 1) on to the flannel, and the roller towel folded over it. One person stands at either end of the towel and twists the ends in opposite directions, thus wringing the flannel clear of water (Fig. 2). The flannel must be shaken now, in order to get plenty of air into its spaces (Fig. 3), and applied at once to the patient.

Under what circumstances are hot fomentations to be employed?

1. In all cases of pain in the chest. The pain of incipient pleurisy is often wonderfully relieved by a hot fomentation. The pain of any of folded flannel on it, and upon this flannel pour boiling

Fig. 1. Lay a roller towel over a basin, place a square water from a kettle

Fig. 1. Lay a roller towel over a basin, place a square water from a kettle