Though most scalding injuries are sustained by children and elderly people, it is documented that about 600 people suffer severe scalding injuries yearly and approximately 20 people die from such injuries. I saw a seven month old infant today with a major scald injury he suffered from his nanny during his routine morning bath. I could only imagine the pains of this little boy for the next couple of weeks and if unlucky the surgeries that will be required. It is a tortuous treatment journey for him.
Several people have described the best temperature for bathing water and placed at various points. But, I like to counsel my clients, most especially mothers with little children who get sometimes overwhelmed with their daily living activities that, the best temperature of bath water is the temperature your body can tolerate. At this temperature, the water is slightly warmer than your body temperature. There is no one temperature fits all even though very hot water soak on a cold day is very great.
For the elderly, temperature maybe adjusted based on their senses and mobility. Some elderly may have impaired senses resulting in a decreased ability to feel high temperature early or have slow response that will make them to respond slower to hot water and thereby prolonging duration of contact with hot water. These can determine the extent of injuries.
When bathing little children, it is better to pour water on them rather than run a shower. Put cold water in bath bucket before adding hot water. It is best to test the tolerability of the water on yourself preferably on your elbow before pouring on baby. Most mothers will use their hands to test the water but the elbows are more sensitive to temperature. Never leave a little child alone in the bathroom.
I still remember my little brother was left in the care of someone who was distracted while my Mother wanted to prepare chocolate drinks for us when we were quite little on a cold day. My little brother poured hot water from the tea pot all over his chest and mouth where he suffered scalding injuries while attempting to drink directly from the tea pot. My mother ran cold water over him for close to thirty minutes before rushing him off to hospital wrapped in warm wrappers.
The extent to which hot water can damage the skin is based on the duration of contact with the skin and the fragility of skin. The mature skin of a lady in her mid-twenties may tolerate high temperatures more than the fragile skin of a baby or an elderly person even with shorter duration of contact with hot water.
Bathing with very hot water can lead to skin inflammation. An inflamed skin is red, itchy, peeling and may even have rashes. Hot water bath can robb the skin of its natural moisture balance leading to dry skin, wrinse off the natural lipids and proteins like keratin that keep skin healthy. Dry skin can increase your chances of infection through peeling off or scratching and may cause excess oil production in compensating for the decreased moisture.
Bathing is inevitable, revitalising and renewing but can be dangerous if done using scalding water. The temperature of bath water varies with age, personal differences, conditions such as ill-health and weather. The correct bath temperature must be met for each individual. It is advisable to turn down water temperature for bathing to close to body temperature, spend less time to bath and stay away from harsh soaps filled with chemicals that can strip off the natural oils of the skin. Finally, after bath, pat your skin dry gently with a soft towel and moisturise with a cream or lotion or oil made with safe ingredients. For most people, light-weight moisturizer is sufficient. Visit @oma_essentialsluxury on Instagram for your safe, chemical free soaps and body cream.