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Bathing

From Academic Kids

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KidsBathingInASmallMetalTub.jpg
Kids bathing in a small metal tub

Bathing is the immersion of the body in fluid, usually water, or an aqueous solution, such as the asses' milk favored by Cleopatra VII of Egypt. Some spa facilities provide bathing in various other liquids such as chocolate or mud, and there have been examples of bathing in champagne. Additionally, exposing the body to open air is sometimes considered bathing, for example, in sunbathing or moonbathing (though the latter has been believed to cause lunacy).

Contents

Reasons for bathing

Most bathing is done in hot water or hot steam.  However, splash baths function like a cold shower to help people cool off on hot days.  A jogger is shown, in this  picture, running through the Dundas Square  to cool down.
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Most bathing is done in hot water or hot steam. However, splash baths function like a cold shower to help people cool off on hot days. A jogger is shown, in this multiple exposure picture, running through the Dundas Square splash pad to cool down.

Bathing serves several purposes:

  • Hygiene, and the neat physical appearance of cleanliness ("cleanliness is next to godliness");
  • Decontamination from chemical, biological, nuclear or other exposure-type hazards.
  • recreation;
  • therapy (e.g. hydrotherapy), healing, and relaxation;
  • religious, or, less frequently, other ceremonial rites;
  • celebration and socialization, e.g. running through fountains after winning the World Series, or jumping through a hole cut in the ice over a lake on New Year's Eve. After Canada won the World Cup hockey game on 2004 September 14th, hundreds of euphoric fans splashed around in the Dundas Square (known also as "Times Square North") fountains. Some brought chairs with them, and sat for 15 minutes or more, right on top of the fountain sprays. Additionally, the requirement (either by social convention, or by the inconvenience of having wet clothes) of removing at least some clothing to bathe, reduces the formality of the situation. This is said to allow people to get to know one another better.
  • ensuring people are free of certain items such as weapons or other contraband: In Chicago, Russian baths were a safe meeting place for rival gang leaders. Weapons are difficult to conceal on a nearly naked body. If the meeting resulted in reconciliation, the gangs would meet upstairs for bagels, cream cheese and borscht. [1] (http://www.cyberbohemia.com/Pages/russianbaniaspreading.htm) Many homeless shelters, and almost all prisons have an intake facility or intake process that includes a supervised shower with change of clothes to ensure that no contraband or contamination enters the facility.

Bathing is usually done in a bath (i.e. a place designed for bathing), but may also be done in places not specifically intended for bathing, such as rooftops (sunbathing and windbathing), a lake, river, or sprinkler connected to a garden hose.

One town known for its baths is Bath (Aquae Sulis), a Roman city in England famous for healing hydrothermal springs, and most recently for the Bath Spa Project consisting of a rooftop pool overlooking the city of Bath, as well as four circular clear glass steam baths.

Kinds of baths

There are various kinds of baths, which include:

A private bath is usually a tub for one person, often found in the privacy of one's own home. A public bath, such as a municipal swimming bath (e.g. the Roman thermae), may be used for recreational bathing. Some municipal swimming baths also have steam baths located near the main swimming bath.

A shower bath is a system that pours water down onto a bather from above, rather than having the bather lower himself, or herself into the water. It has the advantages of being more space and water efficient.

A steam bath is a hot room where bathers sit and where hot steam at a temperature of approximately 49C (120F) is pumped into the room.

A sauna bath is a bath of dry heat, and thus not really a bath according to the definition of bathing, other than the fact that sometimes water is thrown on the rocks that form the thermal ballast of the sauna heater. This results in a steam bath effect.

Bathwear

Bathing usually involves the removal of at least some clothing. The amount of clothing removed depends on circumstance, custom, and willingness of bathers to reveal themselves. A bathing suit is a garment designed for bathing. A swimming suit or swimsuit is a garment that is more streamlined than a bathingsuit, and is used for swimming. Typically a men's bathsuit consists of shorts, whereas a men's swimsuit consists of briefs. A women's suit often consists of two pieces that cover the breasts and pubic region, or of one piece that resembles the combination of briefs and a tank top joined together.

Some European waterparks require bathers to be completely naked and baths are usually not separated by gender. Most of the newer Japanese baths are gender-segregated, whereas the older Japanese baths in the countryside are mixed gender. In both cases (mixed or segregated) public bathing in Japan is done in total nudity.

Hazards of bathing

Drowning is one possible danger of bathing. In a shower bath drowning has been known to occur, even though the risks are less than in an immersion bath. Baths that have standing water involve a higher risk of drowning. Heatstroke can also result from the use of sauna baths or other hot baths. Ear infections, known as swimmer's ear can also occur. Impact injuries are also possible from landing inappropriately in a bath, from an elevation, or from collision with other bathers, or with the sides of the bath. Bathers sometimes wear two swimsuits, one inside the other, when entering from a height of 5m or more. At 10m, single swimsuits will sometimes tear on impact with the water. Water impact to the head is prevented by extending the arms, and holding the hands together. It is important to not interlock the fingers otherwise damage may occur. Any part of the body not streamlined may be hurt. Loose swimsuits can result in impact to the genitalia, which is often felt as referred pain in the abdomen. If jumping in feet first, the feet should be intertwined to avoid this. If the legs are not kept straight, bruises may result from impact with the water. Damage to stomach or back is possible if entry is parallel with water.

Sharing dirty bathwater can result in infection or the spread of disease. Some bathing solutions can irritate certain individuals. Certain people are more senstive to chlorine, or bath salts.

Decontamination baths may also cause more hazard than good. For example, there have been a number of spills of icing sugar or table salt that were reported as "mysterious white powder". The results were forced bathing of large numbers of people. The resulting struggles can cause injury. Additionally, hosing large numbers of people down in a parking lot, with bleach, can cause bad skin reactions, or hypothermia in cold weather as hundreds of naked people are waiting for clean clothes to arrive.

Bathing infants too often has been linked to the development of asthma or severe eczema according to some researchers, including Michael Welch, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics's section on allergy and immunology [2] (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb230/is_200302/ai_n5956653).

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