Consultant Paediatrician, Doctor Ayodele Renner has shared the amazing benefit of hot water bath to mother and child’s health in this beautiful article. Read on…
In the tropics, one might imagine there isn’t a need for the use of hot water because our climate is rather hot. Well that might not be the entire picture.
Think of a new born baby. Would you rather bathe the child in warm or cold water? Your guess is as good as mine. Warm water is more likely to keep the temperature of the infant well regulated. The Nationwide Children’s hospital in the US recommends that the bathing water for an infant should be about 37 to 38 degrees centigrade.
But I don’t know anyone who measures the temperature of the water they want to bathe their children in. However this benefit comes with a note of caution. The frequency of burns injuries, which have resulted from children crawling or running into a bowl of scalding hot water left unattended by a caregiver, is not negligible.
However, an important preventive strategy for the prevention of burns injuries to children as a result of hot water scalds from preparations to bathe the child is the installation of heating mechanisms that can regulate the temperature of the water that comes out of the taps such that it never exceeds a set temperature. This almost entirely eliminates the risk of burns in infants and gives the full benefit of bathing infants in warm water.
The care of utensils used for the feeding of infants also requires that hot water be used for both washing and sterilisation. These utensils have the potential to harbour germs which can cause diarrhoeal illness in these children. While there are various methods of sterilising these utensils, the use of hot water or steam is one of the most effective ways of getting them clean.
Sometimes during the process of labour and delivery, mother may sustain tears or lacerations to their genitals. After these lacerations have been sutured, some mothers may still require what is referred to as a Sitz Bath. In this procedure the mother is asked to sit in a bath that has warm water in it to a depth that one can comfortably sit in.
Some doctors may ask the mother to add salt or vinegar to the water but that is entirely optional. This procedure encourages healing, relives itching and irritation of the genital area and soothes pain.
It also cleanses the area of debris from the procedure or the tear. Just imagine the convenience of just opening a tap and hot water comes right out of it for a mother to dilute for the Sitz bath.
For adults, the health benefits of bathing with warm water are significant.
A warm or hot shower enhances sleep. Research has demonstrated that a hot shower before bed has the effect of reducing one’s core temperature. The effect of this reduction in core temperature is a signal to the body that it is time to sleep.
This reduction in temperature happens when blood vessels in the skin open up in response to a hot bath, thereby allowing the head in these blood vessels to escape from the body.
In a finding by a team of researchers in the University of Texas in Austin, people who took a bath with water that was between 40 to 43 degrees Celsius, one to two hours before going to bed was linked to better quality of sleep.
Dermatologists recommend hot water baths as a means to rid the skin of dirt as well as opening of the skin pores to release trapped dirt and oils.
That’s not all. Hot water baths have also been found to be good muscle relaxants. So after a long walk or a strenuous workout in the gym, a hot bath might be the ideal replacement for a massage because it causes a reduction in muscle tension making you feel more relaxed.
Whether you are an explorer in the farthest reaches of north of our planet or in a mother of a new born baby in the equatorial regions, you will find that hot water, in one way or another brings comfort and health benefits to you and your entire team or family.
So when next you relax in a hot shower or your baby laughs during a warm bath, save a moment to think about the miracle of how increasing the temperature of water by a few degrees can make all the difference in the world.