Sources: Papers On Health

We feel urged, in first considering this sore and very

common trouble, to quote the old adage that "prevention is better than

cure." Many people laugh at wettings, and some foolish young ones even

seek exposure. We would impress upon all such that the effects of

exposure may be, and often are, cumulative: that is, you may escape any

direct effect for years, and then find your recklessness end in

rheumatism for the rest of your life. Let care, then, be taken to avoid

wettings, unless these lie in the way of duty. Change clothes as

speedily as possible when they are wet, and encourage the skin to all

healthy action by proper care and exercise. Even with the skin all

right, a wise man will not act in a foolhardy way, but if he must get

wet and chilled, he will probably not suffer very much.

We would strongly recommend the use of Kneipp linen underclothing

(see Underwear). It powerfully stimulates the skin, and, by

conducting away the perspiration, prevents chills. We have known many

who suffered severely from rheumatism being quite cured by the use of

this material. It is as comfortable as it is hygienic.

But supposing the rheumatism does come on, it may be treated, in mild

cases, by gradual and steady moist heating. For the method of applying

this, see Fomentation and Armchair Fomentation. If the case is

comparatively a fresh one, there will be need for no more than this

fomenting, repeated several times at intervals of two to four hours.

Where the nervous system has been seriously affected, the fomentation

must be gradual, and the moist heat gently insinuated into the parts

affected. Where narcotics have been used, these must be given up if a

cure is to be hoped for.

In certain chronic cases, which are very largely nervous in their

origin, a powerful soothing influence is required. This is secured by

the use of soap lather (see Lather; Soap). Cover the back and head,

piece by piece, with this, rubbing it on and off four or five times.

Cover the fifth application with a soft cloth, and leave it on for the

day in the morning, and for the night in the evening, the patient being

in bed. Hot olive oil or occasionally cold drawn oil of mustard is

gently rubbed on the stiff parts; when this cloth is removed, gently

knead or squeeze the oil into the muscles. If during the lathering the

patient feels too cold, a little olive oil should be mixed with the

lather. A change to a dry climate from a damp one sometimes does a

patient good, but when that is not possible, great relief, and in many

cases cure, is to be had by this treatment.