A fomentation is the application of a hot, wet cloth or towel to a body part.
Fomentations are highly effective; they can be used to treat a variety of diseases. Each hot application is usually followed by a brief, cold application to the treated body part. (The cold may be omitted when treating pleurisy, kidney stones, and painful menstruation.) Fomentations benefit the body in the following ways:
• Increase the circulation of the germ-fighting white blood cells • Help remove body wastes through the skin by increased sweating • Relieve pain in the nerves, muscles, joints, and internal organs • Reduce congestion of the internal organs by increasing blood flow to
the skin surface
• Chest congestion in colds or flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and pleurisy • To heal and to improve the function of the internal organs • Painful nerves (neuralgia) • Painful muscles and joints (back injuries, arthritis)
• Difficulty sleeping and nervousness (use prolonged, mild heat to the spine) • To warm a body part in preparation for massage
• Be careful not to burn a patient who is unconscious, paralyzed, edematous (swollen tissues due to fluid retention), diabetic or otherwise has loss of feeling (numbness) and decreased blood flow to the legs and feet.
• Body areas where the bone lies close to the skin surface may need extra padding to prevent burning.
• Avoid chilling—change fomentations quickly; keep the body covered. • Be careful not to spread infection; clean the equipment thoroughly. • Do not apply fomentations if there is bleeding or hemorrhage.
Effects of Heat Applications
Brief, hot applications (3 to 5 minutes) Increase local circulation or blood flow Relieve pain
Prolonged, mild heat applications (6 to 10 minutes) Sedate and soothe the nerves
Relieve muscle spasms
• Large pot of boiling water or a canning kettle • Large bucket (if a foot bath is included in the treatment) • Basin of cold water—use ice if available—for the cold compress to the head • Tea kettle or pitcher of hot water • Pitcher for ice water • Large piece of plastic (to keep bed dry) • Pillow • Blankets—1 large or 2 small • Sheets—1 large or 2 small • Large, dry towels—4 • Washcloths (for the cooling compress to the head)—2 • Fomentations (may use large towels)—2 or 3 • Fomentation covers (a piece of thick blanket or a large, dry towel)—2 • Glass of water and a drinking straw
Boiling Water Method
1. Fill a large, covered pot or canning kettle with water. Heat the water until it boils.
2. Fold a towel lengthwise twice. Hold the towel at both ends and twist it tightly. 3. Immerse the twisted towel in boiling hot water. Hold the ends of the towel
out of the water. 4. Lift the hot towel out of the water and stretch the ends of the towel apart to
squeeze out all excess water. 5. Quickly drop one end of the towel to untwist it, and fold the towel widthwise
twice. 6. Place the folded towel on top of a fomentation cover. Wrap the fomentation
cover around the hot towel. 7. Roll up the fomentation (to conserve heat), and carry it to the patient.
1. Place a metal rack in a large covered pot or canning kettle. 2. Pour hot water into the container. Keep the water level just below the metal
rack. 3. Take 3 large towels and fold each one widthwise twice. 4. Wet each folded towel, roll it up, and squeeze out all excess water. 5. Place the rolled, wet towels on top of the rack above the boiling water. Heat
the towels for approximately 30 minutes with the lid on the pot. 6. Remove the first towel from the canning kettle with tongs or protective gloves. 7. Quickly unroll the heated towel on the center of a fomentation cover. Wrap
the fomentation cover around the hot towel. 8. Roll up the fomentation (to conserve heat), and carry it to the patient.
1.Preparation for treatment
• Have the room warm and free of cold drafts. • Have all equipment assembled. Cover the bed with a large piece of
plastic. Place a sheet over the plastic covering. • Explain the treatment procedure in a quiet, pleasant manner. Assist
the patient to disrobe and prepare for treatment. • To place a fomentation under the spine, put the hot fomentation
lengthwise on the bed. Cover the fomentation with a dry towel and
have the patient lie on it. • Prepare a foot bath with enough warm water to completely cover the
ankles, and place a dry towel under the foot bath. Make sure the water is not too hot by testing it with the elbow. Then carefully place the patient’s feet in the water.
• Completely cover the patient and the foot bath with a sheet and blanket. Leave the head and neck exposed.
• Always remember that prayer (du’a) invites the Great Physician’s [Allah’s] participation.
• Place a dry towel on top of the body part being treated before putting the heated fomentation on the patient. Then cover the fomentation with another dry towel.
• If the fomentation becomes too hot, lift it off the skin, and put another dry towel under the fomentation.
• Leave the fomentation in place for the specified length of time or until the fomentation cools.
• Remove the cooled fomentation and briskly rub the heated area with a cold washcloth for approximately one minute. Thoroughly dry the treated area before applying the next fomentation. Remember to keep the patient completely covered at all times during the treatment.
• Place a second fomentation on the treated area and repeat the proceeding steps until the treatment is completed. A treatment consists of 3 to 5 fomentation applications.
• As soon as the patient begins to sweat, put cool washcloths to the head and neck.
• During the treatment, have the patient drink water frequently to replace fluid lost from sweating.
• Keep the feet warm by periodically adding hot water to the foot bath. Place your hand between the hot water being poured and the patient’s feet (to avoid burning the feet).
3. Completion of treatment
• After removing the last fomentation, briskly rub the treated area with a cold washcloth and then dry it.
• Lift the feet out of the hot water, and point the toes upward. Quickly pour cold water over the feet.
• Remove the foot bath and place the feet on the dry towel. Thoroughly dry the feet and toes. Put warm socks or slippers on the feet to avoid chilling.
• Remove sweat from the remainder of the body by briskly rubbing the skin with a cold washcloth and drying it thoroughly. Replace damp clothing with clean, dry garments.
• Have the patient rest in bed for approximately one hour. • A lukewarm bath or shower may be necessary if further sweating
occurs during rest.