Paraffin wax has been used for many years, it is an effective medium for heat transfer to the skin and joint. It is a form of deep heat therapy.
A paraffin treatment uses warm oil-based (mineral oil) wax to provide pain relief to hand, feet, and sore joints and muscles. Liquefied paraffin wax is very efficient at absorbing and retaining heat.
The warm paraffin wax applied to the skin makes the blood vessels expand and therefore helps the circulation, bringing healing nutrients to the surface and flushing toxins out of the skin.
Paraffin Wax Bath Unit:
Paraffin wax bath therapy is an application of the molten paraffin wax on the body part. The temperature of the paraffin wax is maintaining at 42-52°c, whereas its melting point is 51-55°c.
If the molten wax at 51-55°c is poured on the body part, it’s may cause burn over the body tissue, which is why some impurity is added to lower down its melting point such as liquid paraffin, mineral oil or petroleum jelly.
The combination of the paraffin and the mineral oil has low specific heat which enhances the patient’s ability to tolerate heat from the paraffin better than from the water of the same temperature.
The composition of the solid wax: liquid paraffin: petroleum jelly is 2:1:1 or Paraffin wax: or mineral oil is 7:1 or 6:1 ratio.
The mode of the transmission of heat from paraffin to the patient skin is through conduction.
Preparation of Patient or Method:
- The nature of wax treatment is explained.
- The area to be treated is inspected for contraindication.
- Look for any wound, skin infection, rashes, etc. on the part to be treated.
- Cleaned the skin using tissue paper or cotton.
- The jewelry from the part should be removed.
- Tell the patient in brief about the temperature of the wax and
- Drip down a few drops of molten wax on the dorsal surface of your hand to check the temperature.
- Psychologically prepare patient and minimized fear of heat
- After the above step the patient is always found to cooperate and fear of molten wax and heat is removing from the mind.
- The part to be treated must be cleaned by soap and moisture to be soaked by a towel.
- The position of the patient should be such that the part to be treated comes closer to the wax bath container.
- Before application one must ensure that there should be no moisture on the body tissues otherwise burn could occur.
- The warm wax is placed on the body tissues by various techniques and the treatment is given for about 10-20 min
Techniques of Application:
Various techniques used for the application of paraffin wax are as fallows:
1)Direct pouring method:
- The molten Wax is directly poured by a mug or utensil on the part to be treated and then wrapped around by a towel.
- The wax is allowed to solidify for about 10-20 minutes. Several (4-6) layers can be made over the body tissues.
- This method applies to areas like the knee, elbow.
It is a less commonly used method of paraffin wax application. In this method, 8-10 coats of wax are applied to the area with a paintbrush using even and rapid strokes.
- This method is commonly used for areas like the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, etc
- The area is then wrapped with a towel for 10-20 minutes and after this time, paraffin wax is removed
- This method of application provides somewhat vigorous
- The body part to be treated dipped 3-4 time to form a thin coat and then left immersed in paraffin wax for 20-30minutes
- A thin glove of solid paraffin wax formed slows the heat
- The patient is in a comfortable position during the treatment.
- With the immersion method, the temperature elevation of body tissue is 2°c higher than the dipping method.
It provides mild heating. The patient should wash and dry the part to be treated. Dipping is repeated until a thick coat is formed. In other words, at least 8-12 times until thick glow on a part.
- Once thick glow of wax is formed the treated area should be wrapped 1st in a plastic and then wrapped with a towel.
- If edema is concerned then the area may be elevated.
- The effective duration of this treatment is 10-15 minutes.
5)Toweling or bandaging method
- A towel or a roll of bandage is immersed in molten paraffin wax and then wrapped around the body part.
- Several layers can be made over the body part.
- This method is preferably used for treating proximal parts of the body.
1) Heat production:
- There is a marked increase in skin temperature in the 1st two minutes, up to 12-13°c.
- This drop, while in the wax wrapping to an increase of about 8°c at the end of 30 minutes.
- In the subcutaneous fascia, there is an increase of 5°c at the end of the treatment.
- In the superficial muscles, then in only about 2-3°c rise in temperature at the end of the treatment
2) Circulating effect:
- Stimulation of superficial capillaries and arterioles causes local hyperemia and reflex vasodilatation.
- Hyperemia is due to the response of the skin to its function of heat regulation.
- Skin and subcutaneous tissue temperature drop after15-20 minute, reducing the vasodilatation
- Exercise after the wax is essential to increase the muscle circulation and sedative effect of heat to obtain more range of movement and muscle strength.
3) Analgesic effect:
- The most important effect of wax its marked sedative effect on the tissue.
- It is this effect that is used before the exercise, in the treatment of superficially placed joints.
4) Stretching effect:
- Wax leaves the skin moist, soft, and pliable.
- This is useful for stretching scar and adhesion before applying mobilization techniques.
Indications and Uses of Paraffin Wax Bath:
- Arthritic condition (like rheumatoid arthritis and other poly or oligo arthritic conditions.)
- Pain (sprain, strain affecting the small distal joint)
- Stiff joints (following trauma or disease)
- Chronic inflammation
- Open wound
- Skin infection
- Defective skin sensation
- Ischemic conditions
- Skin allergy
- Aggravation of inflammation
- The spilled wax on the floor may turn the floor slippery, enhancing the danger of fall
- Allergic reaction
- Aggravation of acute dermatitis, if failed to be detected during application
Advantage of Paraffin Wax Bath:
- Low specific heat allows for application at a higher temperature than water without the risk of a burn.
- Low thermal conductivity allows for the heating of tissues to occur more slowly, thus reducing the risk of overheating the tissues.
- Molten state allows for even distribution of heat to areas like fingers and toes.
- First dip traps air and moisture to create more even heat
- Oils used in the wax add moisture to the skin.
- Wax remains malleable, after removal, allowing for use as an exercise tool.
- Comfortable, moist heat.
- Relative inexpensive to replace wax.
Disadvantage of Paraffin Wax Bath:
- Effective only for distal extremities in terms of ease of
- A most effective method of application is the bath method, which limits accessibility for other body parts to be treated effectively.
- No method of temperature controls once applied.
- Heating lasts only about 20 minutes.
- It is a passive treatment
Purification of Wax Bath:
After use, the wax needs to be purified periodically by transferring it into a purifier before it is reused.
The Techniques of Purification Can be:
- The container with the wax is added with water and the mixture is heated till the wax is melted.
- After melting of the wax the mixture is left undisturbed and allowed to cool gradually.
- After cooling it will be found that, the dirty materials have been deposited at the bottom of the container whereas the wax has solidified at the top layers.
- With proper care the pure wax is removed into the wax tank, leaving the dirty material in the purifier.