1. The morning is the most proper period for the cold bath. 2. It should not be taken whilst the body is in a state of profuse perspiration. 3. It is objectionable immediately after a full meal. 4. The head should, if possible, be immersed first. The advantage of the plunge bath is, that this object is effected suddenly, and with certainty. 5. It should never be continued so long as to cause shivering, blueness of the nails, &c.; five or ten minutes is a sufficient time for one bath. 6. If it produce these effects, the bath should not be repeated at the same temperature, or for the same length of time. 7. After coming out of the bath, the body should be rapidly dried, and gentle exercise taken.
The cold bath is inadmissible under the following circumstances: - 1. During the menstrual period, and only with great caution during pregnancy. 2. In great plethora, or in cases where there exists a tendency to any active Haemorrhage, Apoplexy, Haemoptysis, &c. 3. In persons affected with disease of the heart, particularly with dilatation or valvular obstructions; or in those having a tendency to disease of the heart. 4. In indurations, obstructions, or chronic inflammations of the internal parts of the body; likewise in all acute inflammations of these parts, more particularly of the principal viscera. 5. In loaded states of the bowels, more particularly if combined with an engorged condition of the venous system of the abdomen. 6. In most cutaneous diseases, particularly in such as are apt, when suddenly removed, to be followed by internal affections. 7. In great general debility, and where there does not exist sufficient power of reaction, more especially if there exist an habitually cold state of the surface. 8. In scrofulous disease; and it should be used with great caution when a predisposition to this disease exists. 9. It is less applicable in infancy and in old age than in youth or middle life.
* Cyc. Pract. Med., vol. i., art. Bath.
2914. The Cold Bath is generally applicable to those cases in which there is much languor and weakness of the circulation, accompanied by profuse perspirations, a relaxed state of the system generally, and a deranged condition of the nervous system, which are so frequently the consequence of debilitating diseases, or intense study, &c. In short, from whatever cause it may arise (disease of the internal viscera excepted), when great relaxation and debility exist, the cold bath, properly employed, will be found a valuable therapeutic agent.
In Spasmodic Asthma, many writers, particularly Dr. Ryan,* strongly advocate the employment of the cold bath. It is stated to lessen the morbid sensibility to the impression of cold, atmospherical changes, &c, and to give a tone and vigour to the system. It is to be employed only in the intervals, never during a paroxysm. Simply sponging the body is preferred by some to immersion. Salt (j. ad Aq. Oj.) maybe added with advantage, and the body should afterwards be rubbed with rough towels, or a flesh-brush. The best time for using it is immediately after getting out of bed in the morning. Dr. Watson prefers the use of the shower-bath.
2916. In the Chronic stages of Hooping-Cough, the cold bath is sometimes attended with excellent effects. The cold shower-bath is sometimes more effectual.
2917. In Nervous diseases, when unconnected with disease of the Brain, and in those cases of Paralysis consequent on severe inflammatory attacks of the Brain and Spinal Column, the use of the cold bath, particularly the shower-bath, is often attended with the most decided benefit. In Congestive and Hysterical Headaches, the shower-bath may be used with advantage.
* On the History and Cure of Asthma, Lond. 1793.
2918. In Maniacal cases, the cold shower and douche baths have been employed with occasionally good effect, but their use has more frequently been attended by an aggravation of the symptoms. They are chiefly serviceable in young subjects, when the constitution is relaxed, and predisposed to hysteric affections. They are altogether inadmissible in old cases, with a disposition to congestion of the head.