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How to Apply the Fomentation

Updated on January 15, 2012

How to Apply the Fomentation?

What is fomentation?

A local application of moist heat by using cloth compressed from boiling water or from steam tank.

Here are the wonderful effects of fomentation:

  • It enhances blood flow in the area treated.
  • It relieves the muscles.
  • It has sedative effect when used on the spine.
  • It relieves soreness.
  • It lightens up spasm or cramps.
  • It relieves congestions.
  • It can stimulate sweating.

Here are things you will need while you apply fomentation:

  • You will need at least five towels.
  • A small basin filled with ice water.
  • One washcloth or face towel for compress.
  • A blanket or sheet to cover the patient.
  • One kettle for boiling water.

Here is the procedure in performing the fomentation:

  1. Take off the patient’s clothing and drape with sheet or blanket.
  2. Fill the basin with ice water and compress at bedside of the patient.
  3. To avoid drafts close all windows that is near to the patient being treated.
  4. Dip the bath towel in the boiling water (be careful you might get burn).
  5. Spread the dry towel on the table and wrap the hot towel. Rub the towel into the area to be treated.
  6. Use cold compress to the patient’s head. Renew or change compress three times during the application of each fomentation.
  7. Hand out three changes of hot fomentation whilst drying the treated area. Change fomentation at an interval of five minutes or till it gets warm or cold.
  8. Have hot towel ready before changing the used hot towel.
  9. Right after the last fomentation wipe the area promptly with a cold compress dipped from the basin filled with ice water.
  10. Completely dry the treated area and you may give a sponge bath or warm bath if preferred.
  11. Give the patient a rest after the treatment.

Important! Here are some safety measures while you employ fomentation:

  • See to it that the sensitive parts of the body are protected like the bony areas and recent scars. Usually thin patients have the tendency to have more bony areas, here, the application of only hot fomentation is recommended.
  • If the patient experiences severe pain, see to it that you use fomentation that is as hot as could be tolerated without causing burns to the patient.
  • If however the fomentation is intolerably hot, rub areas with the hand under the hot towel or double the towel insulation.
  • Refrain from a chilling patient. If patient’s feet are cold, cover the feet with hot fomentations while taking extra safety measures of not burning the heels and toes.
  • Take precautions with patients that are diabetic and/or unconscious. Bear in mind that children and old patients are sensitive to heat since they have poor sensation and their skin can be easily burned. Apply only warm fomentations.

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