Chapter 1: Personal hygiene
Help with bathing
Most people find bathing or showering refreshing. However, tub baths and even showers may become more difficult as the person’s illness progresses. It’s important that help with bathing is discussed with the person in order to establish their comfort level with you doing this for them. They may prefer a professional, and this preference should be respected. Click on the headings below here for more information.
If possible, buy or rent equipment, such as grab bars, that
will help make moving in and out of the bathtub or shower stall safer. Be sure
these are installed properly.
Consider a bath/shower chair, as it may help people who
cannot lower themselves into the bath or stand long enough for a shower.
If the person can get into a bath, make sure the water is not
too warm. Very warm water can make the person feel sleepy and weaker, making it
more difficult to get out of the tub.
Soap tends to dry the skin. Choose a soap that is gentle and use a small amount.
Sponge baths can be given to someone who is not able to get out of bed. You will need a washcloth, lightly soapy water in a bowl or bucket, clean water, and a towel.
- Start at the face and work downward, taking care to cover parts of the body that are not being washed with a light sheet or towel.
- Wash the arm and side of the body furthest from you before moving to the arm and side closest to you. Dry the areas gently.
- Follow the same pattern for the lower half of the body.
- Finish washing the patient’s
front by washing the genital area. Be sure to dry the skin gently, and change
the water, cloth and drying towel afterwards.
- Help the person to turn to their side and wash their back. If the person is unable to turn to the side, you may need help from someone else. Wash the person’s backside and anal area last. Stop using the cloth and water after doing so.
- Dry the person’s skin gently but thoroughly.
After a bath, the person’s skin may be dry. Skin care lotion can be very soothing on the skin, so you may want to consider applying some after the person’s bath.
- Avoid lotions that are alcohol-based, as they tend to dry the skin.
- Avoid heavily scented lotions and creams. They can be irritating to the skin and make some people nauseated.
- After the bath, you may want to offer a manicure or pedicure. Having cared-for nails sometimes makes a person feel more comfortable.
A full bath is not necessary every day, but washing the face, underarms, hands, genital area, and back daily can help the person to feel fresh.
Watch the video for a demonstration and tips on giving a bed bath.