The concept of using paraffin wax for health and beauty treatments can be traced back to ancient Rome. Soldiers and professional gladiators used it as means to treat sore muscles. Years later, the British medical community discovered its healing power, using it to treat certain types of wounds. Today, paraffin is used as the French chose to use it--to smooth and soften the skin. Unfortunately, there are times when the use of paraffin is contraindicated.
How Paraffin is Used Today
Paraffin baths have long been used in spas to treat dry skin. Massage, physical and rehabilitation therapists have all recognized paraffin’s properties in easing tired muscles, releasing stiff joints and alleviating pain. It is commonly used to treat arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, fibrositis and tendon issues; for injuries to joints; for accident- or sports-related dislocations and fractures; for inhibited or lost range of motion and for sprains or strains. Dermatologists also use paraffin to treat skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis.
How Paraffin Works
Heated paraffin forms a second skin to lock in the body’s natural moisture, forcing hydration back into the body. That, in turn, leads to a layer of skin cells that are plumped, softer, smoother and free of superficial signs of aging as well as better skin elasticity and overall tone. Additionally, the wax captures dead skin cells and surface contaminants, which adhere to the wax and are removed with it, leaving behind clean, clear skin.
The heat generated by the wax forces blood vessel expansion so blood flows freely through the veins. Good blood flow promotes proper circulation, which, in turn, aids healing as well as cell regeneration.
Paraffin Bath Contraindications
Paraffin should not be applied to skin with fresh, deep or openly bleeding wounds. The wax could inadvertently lock in bacteria, resulting in infection.
Inflamed skin is not a good candidate for the treatment, either. It could increase pain associated with burns and inflammation and cause skin damage.
Certain skin conditions, including neoplasm and tumors, should not be paraffin treated. A dermatologist should be consulted for the final decision.
Diabetic patients and those suffering from vascular disease or circulation problems should not use a paraffin treatment. Only a physician can decide if it is appropriate.
If paraffin use results in an allergic reaction or increased skin sensitivity, further treatments should not be repeated. To do so might result in skin damage.
Treatments that appear hotter or colder than it should be could be an indication of an underlying health issue. They should be suspended until a physician has cleared the patient for reuse.
Children, the elderly and individuals with physical disabilities should not have paraffin bath treatments. Anyone who cannot read and understand treatment instructions should also be barred from use without assistance.