Bathing and Cleanliness.
ANISTOTLV, Calls cleanliness one of the half virtues; and Addison, in the Spectator, recommends it as a ma k of politeness, and as analogous to purity of mind. Both in the Jewish and Mohammedan law, it is enforced as a part of religious duty. Its requirement as a prerequisite to christian communion would be wiser than the demands sometimes made. A dirty Christian may perhaps be found, but not among those who mean to be intelligent.
The importance of keeping the skin clean is not generally appreciated. The motive for cleanliness is often a lower and meaner one than should be allowed to have place in the mind. Many persons would be mortified to have their hands, or face, or neck dirty, who do not wash their whole body once a year. That they may appear well in the eyes of others, is the only motive with such for keeping clean.
Offices of the Skin. If we look a little at the offices of the skin, we shall better understand the need of keeping it clean.
The skin is not merely a covering to protect us from the weather. It is a living structure, curiously wrought, with a large extent of surface, and having important duties to perform in the animal economy. Its structure is more particularly explained under the head of 1, Anatomy " and 11 Skin Diseases." It has been already said, that it helps the lungs in breathing. It does many other things on which the health is dependent.
Number of Perspiratory Tubes.The skin performs several kinds of secretion,that is, Lt separates several things from the blood, one of which is the perspiration, or sweat. The sweat is formed in small glands, situated just under the skin, and is brought to the surface in small ducts, or tubes, like the hose through which firemen throw water. These little tubes are spiral, as seen in cut 44, and run up through the two skins.
These spiral canals are very numerous, covering every part of the human frame, there being about 2800 of them upon every square inch throughout the body; and as a man of ordinary size has about 2500 square inches of surface, the number of tubes in the skin of one man is seven millions.
The mouths of these tubes axe called the pores of the skin. Each one of these tubes is extended just below the skin; and there, among the cells where the fat is deposited it, or rather the two branches into which it is divided, is wound into a coil, called the sudoriferous or sweat gland. These ducts are each about a quarter of an inch in length, which make an aggregate length of tubing in the human skin of about twenty~eight miles.
Insensible Perspiration. Through each of these seven million of quarterinch hose, there is poured out, day and night, as long as a man lives, a stream of sweat in the form of vapor. When this is thrown off very rapidly, as happens when active exercise is taken, it accumulates in drops, and is called sweat. Ordinarily it does not thus accumulate; it is then called insensible perspiration, not being recognized by the senses.
This transpiration may be proved very beautifully by inserting the naked arm into a long glass jar, and closing up the space around it at the mouth so that no air can get in. The inside of the glass will soon be covered with a vapor, which will grow more and more dense until it is converted into drops. Boerhaave says: 11 If the piercing chill of winter could be introduced into a summer assembly, the insensible perspiration being suddenly condensed, would give to each person the appearance of a heathen deity, wrapped in his own separate cloud."
Now, this continual exudation of sweat through these millions of tubes is for a wise and necessary purpose. It is to take out of the blood and other fluids various salts, which would do mischief if allowed to remain longer, and particularly carbonic acid, which is poisonous, the same matters, in fact, which are thrown out by the lungs. The skin, in truth, is a kind of helper of the lungs; and a lady, by covering herself with garments which have no pores, and will neither admit air nor let off insensible perspiration, may be strangled almost as certainly as by putting a cord around her neck, and closing her windpipe. Almost twice as much fluid passes off through the skin as through the lungs.
Keep the Pores Open. It is obvious from what has now been said, that the pores of the skin should be kept open to preserve health. When bathing is neglected, and the undergarments are not changed sufficiently often, the insensible perspiration accumulates and dries up upon the skin, mingling with the oily matter secreted by the oilglands, and with the shreds of the scarfskin, and forming a tenacious gluey matter, which closes up the pores. By this misfortune, that large quantity of wornout matter which usually goes off with the fluid through the pores is retained to poison and embarrass the living current of blood, or seek an outlet through lungs or kidneys, which are already burdened with quite as much as they are able to do. How important, then, that these channels through which the body is purified should be kept open! that the skin should be kept healthy and in working order!
The Bath, the Great Purifier. But this can only be done by daily washing. The bath is the great purifier of the human skin.
The antiquity of bathing is very great. The practice is supposed to reach back to the infancy of the race, or certainly to a very early period. The inhabitants of Middle Asia are said to have been the first to use the bath for the specific purposes of purification and health. Domestic baths are represented as having been used by Diomed and Ulysses. Andromache prepared warm water for Hector on his return from battle. Penelope banished sorrow by unguents and baths.
The Baths of the Medes, the Persians, and the Assyrians were much celebrated. Alexander, though familiar with the voluptuous baths of Greece and Macedon, was astonished at the magnificence of those of Darius.
Roman Baths. As luxury and refinement advanced, the means of luxurious bathing were multiplied, until establishments were built by the Romans, the very remains of which excite wonder at this day. Among these arc the Thermee of Agrippa, of Nero, of Vespasian, of Titus, etc. One of the halls of the building constructed for baths by Diocletian, forms at this day the church of the Carthusians, one of the most magnificent temples in Rome.
Number and Character. According to Pliny, baths were introduced into Rome about the time of Pompey; their first erection Dion attributes to Maecenas. Agrippa increased their number to one hundred and seventy; and within two hundred years they were multiplied to about eight hundred. These establishments were so vast that one writer compares them to provinces. They were paved either with crystal, or mosaic, or plaster, and were adorned by sculpture and painting to the very highest degree. They added not merely to the health and luxury of the people, but contributed to their culture in the highest departments of art and taste.
Names of Baths.To the apartment of their dwelling in which they washed their bodies in warm or hot water, the Romans gave the name of balneum, or bath; to the public establishments, that of balnea, or baths. The apartment which held the vessels was called vasarium. In this were the three immense vessels which contained the cold, warm, and hot water. There were instruments of bone, ivory, and metal, for scraping the skin, with a groove in the edge, through which the impurities of the skin might run off.
On the north front of the thermae was a reservoir of cold water large enough for swimming, called by Pliny the younger, baptisterium. In the centre was a spacious vestibule, and on each side, warm, cold, and vapor baths, with apartments for cooling, dressing, and refreshments. There was the irigidarium, a vaulted room, a cooling room midway between the warmer and the open air; the tepidarium, with a temperature midway between the above and the hot bath; and the calidarium, or the vapor bath.
Then there was the room where the body was rubbed over with a great number of ointments and essences of the most precious kinds; and another in which it was sprinkled over with powder; and also a room which held the clothes, in which the bathers undressed and dressed at pleasure.
All these apartments were double, the two wings being appropriated to the sexes.
Open to all.These baths, thus numerous and magnificent, were open to all classes of the. people, and contributed largely to the general health and physica endurance for which the Romans were conspicuous.
The Bath Neglected under the Christian System. When Jesus of Nazareth came into the world, he found man's nature cultivated in a most defective way. The moral element had sunk down to the lowest place, while the physical had risen to the highest,just the reverse of the true order of things. This Divine Teacher came, not to recommend a neglect of the body, but a new cure for the imperishable part. Mankind were for the first time systematically taught to forgive injuries. Prostrate liberty and degraded woman became the wards of Christianity.
Unfortunately, under the new order of things, the lower element of man, which had been exalted and worshipped, was cast down and abused. What the Pagan had pampered, the Christian persecuted. The body, which had been bathed, and scrubbed and anointed, and perfumed, was thenceforward, in consequence of the improper interpretation of certain texts, scourged, and fasted, and clothed in rags. Thousands believed, and thousands do to this day, that to torment the body is to please God. Under this feeling, the public and private baths were neglected, and to this day no Christian nation has fully appreciated the necessity of cleanliness, and of sanitary measures for the maintenance of the public health. To a considerable extent, the body is still under disabilities; still the subject of persecution; and where this is not the case, it is too often regarded only &3 a loose outside garment, to be thrown over the traveler to the celestial city, and is expected to be well soiled with mud and dust. The teachings of the Great Master will by and by cease to be perverted, and will be applied to raise up man's body, as they have raised his mental and moral nature, and will make a welldeveloped and harmonious being.
In the meantime, it is the duty and the privilege of the physician to urge a return, not to the magnificence of the ancient regimen for training the body, but to its real efficiency in a simpler form.
Cold Bathing.Water applied to the skin at a temperature below 75* of Fahrenheit, is called a cold bath. If applied to a person with i3ufficient constitutional energy to bear it, it is a decided and very powerful tonic. By this is meant that it promotes the solidity, compactness, and strength of the body.
The first effect of the application of cold water to the skin, is the sudden contraction of all its vessels, and the retreat of the blood towards the internal organs. The nervous system, feeling the shock, causes the heart to contract with more energy, and throw the blood back with new force to the surface.
This rushing of the blood back to the skin, is called a reaction; and when it occurs with some energy, it is an evidence that the system is in a condition to be much benefited by the cold bath. When this does not take place, but the skin looks shrunken, and covered with 16 goose flesh," and a chilliness is felt for a longer or shorter time after bathing, then the inference should be, either that the water has been used too profusely, or that the bather has too little reactionary power for this form of the bath. The latter conclusion must not be accepted until cold water has been tried with all possible guards, such as beginning with tepid water, and gradually lowering the temperature; bathing for a time, at least, in a warm room; beginning the practice in warm weather; and applying the water at first with a sponge out of which most of it has been pressed by the band. With some or all of these precautions, most persons may learn to use the cold bath. It is always to be followed by brisk rubbing with a coarse towel or fleshbrush.
The Sponge Bath. A wet sponge is the simplest, as well as the best mode of applying water to the surface of the body. With persons who are feeble, a part only of the body should be exposed at a time, which part, having been quickly sponged and wiped dry, should be covered, and another part exposed, and treated in a like manner. In this way, all parts of the body may successively be subjected to the bracing influence of water and friction, with little risk, even to the most delicate, of an injurious shock. The only furniture required for carrying out this simple plan of bathing, is a sponge, a basin, and a towel. There is no form of bathing so universally applicable as this, or so generally conducive to health.
The Shower Bath requires a brief notice. The shock to the nervous system produced by it is much greater than that from sponging. Beside the sudden application of coldness, there is a concussion of the skin by the fall of the water. This form of the bath is excellent for those who are strong and full of vitality, but is fraught with some danger for the feeble and delicate. This, however, depends on the judgment with which it is used. In the form of a delicate shower, and with tepid water, the frailest body might bear its shock.
The Warm Bath; A temperate bath ranges from 75' to 85'; a tepid bath, from 85' to 950; a warm bath, from 950 to 980; a hot bath from 980 to 1050. A warm bath is of the same temperature with the surface of the body. O~' course it produces no shock. To those who axe past the meridian of life, and have dry skins, and begin to be emaciated, the warm bath~ for half an hour, twice a week, is eminently serviceable in retarding the advances of age.
It is a mistake to suppose the warm bath is enfeebling. I. has a soothing and tranquillizing effect. It renders the pulse a little slower, and the breathing more even. If the bath be above 980, it becomes a hot one, and the pulse is quickened.
The temperature of the warm bath, as of the cold, should be made to range up and down according to the vigor of the frame, and the circulation of the individual. The aged and the infirm, whose bands and feet are habitually cold, require it to be well up towards the point of blood heat. The pulse should not be made to beat faster by it, nor should sensations of heat or fullness be induced about the temples and face.
The Vapor Bath. This differs from the warm bath in being applied to the interior's well as to the exterior of the body. The warmth is inhaled into the airtubes at the same time that it envelops the external person. The first sensation of the vapor bath is oppression, and causes some difficulty of breathing; but this passes off as soon as the perspiration begins to flow. From the steamchamber, the bather should step into a tepid bath, and after remaining a short time in this, wipe himself thoroughly with dry towels.
Cold Affusion immediately after either the warm or the vapor bath, is excellent. In Russia it is common, after the vapor bath, to pour Upon the head of the bather a bucket of warm water, then one of tepid, and lastly one of cold; and to finish with giving him a good toweling. It is even said that the natives leave the steam and the hot bath, and roll themselves in the snow.
No danger need be feared from cold affusion when the) skin is red and excited by the warm bath, provided the nervous frame is not in a depressed condition. If the body is chilled, and the nerves prostrated by disease or fatigue, the application of cold water to the skin may do great mischief, and should in no case be hazarded. Cold water applied to a hot skin cannot do harm; to a cold skin, it can do nothing but harm. Hence, the cold bath may be used with advantage on rising in the morning, while the body is warm. Another good time is at ten or eleven o'clock in the forenoon, when the nervous power is advancing towards its height for the day.
Reaction Necessary. As a means for promoting cleanliness, the importance of the bath can hardly be overstated. For the support and improvement of health, it is equally important. But for the promotion of the latter, one prerequisite is essential, the reaction of the skin.
Various means are resorted to, to secure this. The Hindoos secure it by a kind of shampooing, thus described by a writer: 11 One of the attendants on the bath extends you upon a bench, sprinkles you with warm water, and presses the whole body in an admirable manner. Hp cracks the joints of the fingers, and of all the extremities. He then places you upon the stomach, pinches you over the kidneys, seizes you by the shoulders, and cracks the spine by agitating all the vertebrae,, strikes some powerful blows over the fleshy and muscular parts, then rubs the body with a hairglove until he perspires,' etc. 11 This process," says the writer, 11 continues for threequarters of an hour, after which a man scarcely knows himself; he feels like a new being." Sir John Sinclair speaks thus of the luxury of the process: 11 If life be nothing but a brief succession of our ideas, the rapidity with which they now pass over the mind would induce one to believe that in the few short minutes he has spent in the bath, he has lived a number of years."
The Coarse Towel, the horsehair glove, and the fleshbrush are the appliances commonly used for stimulating the skin, and causing reaction. For tender skins, the towel is sufficiently rough. With this the bather should rub himself, unless he is weak and the exertion produces palpitation. The muscular exertion necessary for this will help the reaction.
Restoration of the Bath desirable. It is greatly to be wished that the bath might be restored to something like the importance it held among ancient nations. It is a luxury, a means of health, and a source of purity both of body and of mind; for the morals of any people will rise where the use of the bath is regular and habitual.
The attempt to cure all diseases by what is called the " watercure," has a bit of fanaticism about it, which will cure itself in time. But that water, used judiciously in the form of baths, is a potent moral and physical renovator of the race, is not to be doubted; and this should commend it to all sensible people, even though it should sometimes be abused by excess, as all good things are.
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