A cold bath is a bath that is designed to contain and relieve the symptoms of colds. It is particularly effective if you take a cold bath at the beginning of the cold. In this way, complaints can be stopped before they really start. Cold baths can be a pure bath in water, but essential oils can also be added. These should also have an expectorant and anti-inflammatory effect and thus strengthen the function of the cold bath.
When does a cold bath make sense?
A cold bath should be used especially when the cold is just beginning. A tickling nose or sore throat may be the first signs. The cold bath can also be effective for headaches and cold feet. The warmth of the bath strengthens the body's defenses and thus supports the immune system in the fight against potential pathogens.
The added essential oils can also develop their effect against the germs. In addition, they alleviate the beginning symptoms. By contributing to the solution of mucus, for example, the essential oils deprive the pathogens of their breeding ground and can thus alleviate the common cold. The warm cold bath can put the body into an artificial fever for a short time, as the body temperature rises through the bath. This partially kills bacteria and viruses so that they can no longer harm the body.
If you already suffer from a real cold, you can also use partial baths. These are usually limited to one or two parts of the body such as both arms and are more used for relaxation. However, due to the small surface area affected, they do not have such a great impact on the cardiovascular system and can therefore not only be carried out in the initial stages of the common cold.
For more information, see: When do I have to see a doctor with a cold?
When shouldn't you take a cold bath?
A cold bath should be avoided in the case of severe cold symptoms. A fever is a clear sign that the bath is overwhelming. You should also be careful with the cold bath if you have a cold or cough. Flu with aching limbs is also a situation in which one should not take a cold bath. Colds and the flu weaken the circulation. However, the warm cold bath should really get the blood flow going. If the circulation is already weakened, this is rather counterproductive and additionally increases the feeling of illness.
In principle, people with a weak heart should not take cold baths either. Open wounds, especially if they heal poorly due to vascular disease or diabetes, are also a contraindication for cold baths. Likewise, if you have weak veins and varicose veins, you should not take a cold bath. Some people are also allergic to certain essential oils. As a rule, you can still take a cold bath, but the essential oil used should be chosen carefully or avoided completely.
More on this: The difference between the flu and the common cold
What effect should a cold bath spark?
The cold bath works primarily through its warmth. On the one hand, this can cause an “artificial” fever, which means that the body temperature is increased. This helps the immune system defend itself against pathogens. In addition, the warmth promotes blood circulation in the skin and muscles. In this way, pain in the limbs can be prevented, as not so many breakdown products of the pathogens being controlled can be deposited there. As long as the cold is in its early stages, a cold bath also has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, so that those affected feel fitter afterwards. In addition, the cold bath has a relaxing and stress-relieving effect due to its warmth. This also strengthens the body's immune defense.
Bath additives such as essential oils also promote this relaxing effect. In addition, they usually contain antibacterial substances that can reduce the attack power of the pathogens. By inhaling the warm vapors, the mucous membranes are moistened, which increases their resistance. In addition, the essential oils can also have an expectorant effect. In this way, the bronchi can be freed from the mucus again, the sinuses open again and the nose no longer runs as strongly.
Bath salts can also be added to the cold bath. They also have an expectorant and anti-inflammatory effect in the airways.
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How to do a cold bath yourself
Taking a cold bath yourself is not difficult. A bath thermometer is the most suitable aid. You let water in the bathtub, optionally for partial baths only in the sink or a bowl. The water temperature should then be checked with the bath thermometer. The temperature should be between 32 and 38 ° C, which is what feels best. If you don't have a thermometer at hand, you can set the temperature just by feeling. If in doubt, you can start with a little cooler water and slowly increase the water temperature until it is comfortable. Bath products such as essential oils and bath salts can then be added. Alternatively, a cold tea can be poured into the bath water or a cup of cold tea can be drunk with the bath. The duration of a cold bath is usually between ten and twenty minutes. However, the bath should be stopped if you feel unwell or have circulatory problems.
After the bath, it is important to sit up slowly and carefully step out of the tub. Then you should absolutely dry yourself thoroughly. Due to the warmth of the cold bath, the skin is particularly well supplied with blood, which can then lead to a rapid loss of heat. This is why you should dress warmly after the bath and relax for a while. Since the warm water can dry out the skin a little, moisturizing lotions can also be applied.
What cold baths are there?
With cold baths, a distinction is made between the classic full bath, the three-quarter bath and the partial baths.
The most effective but also the most strenuous for the body is a full bath. Due to the size of many bathtubs, however, only a three-quarter bath is usually feasible. Either arms or legs are left out of the bath or have to be immersed one after the other in the water. Correct partial baths are only intended for arms or legs. They are nowhere near as stressful for the circulatory system, but they still have a relaxing effect and can have a positive effect on the common cold by adding essential oils to the respiratory tract. In contrast to other water treatments, cold baths are always warm.
An alternating bath of warm and cold pouring would put too much strain on the body in the phase of the onset of a cold. Optionally, you can add essential oils with different functions to the various cold baths. Depending on the choice of oil, these have an anti-inflammatory or expectorant effect. Cold teas can also be poured hot and then added to the cold bath. They usually have an anti-inflammatory effect and also fight the pathogens.
Also read: How can you prevent a cold?
Can you also inhale with a cold bath?
A cold bath is basically intended for bathing in it and for absorbing bath additives such as essential oils through the skin. Nevertheless, the bath is automatically accompanied by the fact that the water vapor and its additives are inhaled and thus inhaled. The essential oils work in two different places at the same time. Inhaling can reduce inflammation of the airways, and essential oils are also very good for loosening mucus. Preparing a cold bath for pure inhalation is usually not worthwhile. Instead, you should take an inhalation bath, which is specially designed for inhalation.
You can find additional information on this at: Inhaling if you have a cold
Essential oils are often used as bath additives in cold baths. When bathing, some of the ingredients are absorbed through the skin, so their anti-inflammatory effects can spread throughout the body. In addition, the essential oils are also inhaled together with the water vapor. In this way, the ingredients get directly into the airways, where they also have an anti-inflammatory effect. They also have a moisturizing and expectorant effect there. In this way, blocked noses and congested bronchi can be cleared again. Frequently used essential oils for the cold bath are peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, camphor, pine and spruce needle oil, thyme oil and myrtle oil.
Also read: Home remedies for a cold
Pinimenthol is a bath additive that contains several essential oils. If you add the pinimenthol to the water, a foaming cold bath is created, which contains eucalyptus, camphor and mentol. There is also a version of pinimenthol suitable for children, but this cold bath only contains eucalyptus. The water vapor with the added pinimenthol is particularly good for the bronchi and the upper respiratory tract, as it has an anti-inflammatory and expectorant effect there. The interaction of the three essential components additionally intensifies this effect.
For more information, read on: Pinimenthol cold bath.
Due to its gentle effect, eucalyptus is not only suitable for adults but also for children. Often, candies containing eucalyptus are consumed with colds. In this form, the eucalyptus mainly develops its antitussive effect. As an additive for a cold bath, eucalyptus oil works primarily through inhaled steam. This moisturizes the mucous membranes and has an anti-inflammatory effect. This is a good way to fight coughs and sore throats. A runny nose and mucous bronchial tubes are also affected by the eucalyptus, as this also has an expectorant effect.
For more information, see: Eucalyptus
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is used in many shampoos and bath products. Because of its antibacterial effect, tea tree oil is particularly popular for cold baths. However, when using it, it is important to use the correct amount of the oil. Too low a dose is usually not strong enough to fight the bacteria and tends to make them multiply more aggressively. However, too high a proportion of tea tree oil can be toxic to the body. Therefore, tea tree oil should not be prepared independently but purchased as a finished product.
Please also read our article on this Tea tree oil.
What are the special features of a cold bath for children?
The specialty of the cold bath for children is on the one hand the temperature, on the other hand special attention must be paid to the bath additives. Most essential oils are not suitable for children due to their ingredients. You should therefore use very gentle oils such as thyme and Star anise be used. There are also special cold baths for children that only contain harmless bath additives. The temperature also plays a major role in a cold bath for children, so the water temperature should always be checked with a bath thermometer. In addition, a cold bath is only suitable for children if they are in the early stages of the cold. In this way symptoms can be alleviated, but at the same time the body is not subjected to excessive stress.
In infancy, i.e. before the first year of life, a cold bath is generally not recommended. Even with the onset of a cold, babies are already physically impaired. A cold bath would be too strenuous in this situation. In addition, there is the restriction that the infants cannot yet express themselves and therefore cannot communicate if the cold bath, for example, overwhelms their circulation.
You can also find important information at: Hoarseness in children
Cold bath during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Can I take a cold bath during pregnancy?
Taking a cold bath during pregnancy is generally allowed. In addition to the positive effect on colds, the relaxing effect of the bath during pregnancy can also be very good. Taking a bath at the beginning of the onset of a cold strengthens the body's defenses. In some cases this can prevent medication from being taken. Symptoms such as headaches and congested airways can also be easily resolved by taking a bath. However, you should avoid hot baths if possible in the last trimester of pregnancy.
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What should be considered when taking a cold bath during pregnancy?
When taking a cold bath during pregnancy, it is important to pay attention to the water temperature. This should not be chosen too hot. The circulation is also more stressed during pregnancy than usual, which is why you should get up even more slowly after the bath. Due to the different ingredients in essential oils, it is advisable to avoid them or to seek medical advice beforehand. In the last trimester of pregnancy, hot baths should be avoided completely, as they can trigger premature labor and rupture of the bladder. In case of doubt, partial washing of the arms is more suitable.
Can you take a cold bath while breastfeeding?
Similar to pregnancy, you can also take a cold bath while breastfeeding. However, it is best not to add any essential oils or other bath products. These substances can be absorbed through the skin and the inhalation of the water vapor and thus enter the body. Some of the ingredients are then also transferred to the child through breast milk. If you don't want to do without essential oils, you should use an oil suitable for children, such as eucalyptus. Basically, a cold bath is very relaxing during breastfeeding. However, shortly after pregnancy, the body is often still weak. The cold can also affect the circulation. This is why you shouldn't take a particularly long cold bath while breastfeeding and get up very carefully after the short bath. Afterwards, drying off well and putting on warm clothes are essential to prevent the heat from being drawn out of the body again immediately.
Also interesting: Medication during breastfeeding