Wax therapy / Parafin wax bath

wax therapy / Parafin wax bath
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Wax therapy / Parafin wax bath

Parafin wax melts at around 54 degree, but this point can be lowered by adding mineral oil (liquid paraffin). Most wax bath are kept at temperature and lower between 42 to 52 degree, often higher range for hand treatment and lower for feet. Wax is maintained molted in stainless steel. Wax has low thermal conductivity has it slowly release energy of latent heat and this heat energy is conducted into tissue.

Latent heat

Wax transmits heat energy to the tissue by giving up energy as it solidifies the latent heat of fusion. This amount of energy is small about 35 KJkg. The low thermal conductivity prevents rapid loss of heat and evaporation of water from skin.

Composition of wax bath therapy

7:3:1 for petroleum jelly, Wax, mineral oil.

7:1  for wax, Paraffin oil.

Methods of wax applications

The part to be treated must be free from cuts, rashes or infections. The patients should be positioned  according to the treatment. Following are the 4 main methods of wax applications.

1. Dip methods

It provides mild heating , the part to be treated must be clean and dry. The part is dipped and removed 8-12 times in bath until the paraffin solidifies and a thick layer is formed. Once it is formed, then it should be wrapped in plastic and then over wrapped with towel. In case of oedema the area should be elevated. effective duration in 10-15 minutes. At the end of treatment the wax is peeled off and removed.

2. Immersion method

This method provides somewhat vigrous heating. Dipped 3-4 times to the body part to treat and then left immerse in paraffin for 20-30 minutes. A thin glove formed slows the heat conduction. Here, temperature elevations of body tissues is 20 degree celsius higher than dipping method.

3. Brush method

It is less commonly used method. Here 8-10 coats of wax is applied to the part with paint brush using even and rapid strokes. Then it is wrapped with towel for 10-20 minutes after this it is removed and discarded.

4. Bandage method

Here, bandage of suitable size and mesh is soaked in hot wax and wrapped around the part. Additional wax if required can be poured or brushed over bandage.

Physiological and therapeutic effect

There is marked increase in skin temperature which reduces at the end of treatment.

1. Circulatory effect

There is stimulation of capillaries and arterioles causing local hyperaemia and reflex vasodilation, this is caused due to function of heat regulation. Skin and subcutaneous tissue temperature drops rapidly after 15-20 min, reducing vasodilation. Exercetion after wax is essential to increase nuscles circulation and use sedative effect of heat to maintain range and muscles strength.

2. Effect on sensory nerve

Mild heating provides sedative effects on sensory nerve ending. It helps in treating rhematioud arthritis, degenerative joint disease reduce pain and muscles spasm.

3. Effect on skin

Softens adhesions and scars

4. Analgesic effect

It provides soothing effect. It is used prior to exercise.

5. Stretching effect

It helps in mobilization and stretching procedures.


1. Pain and muscles – It reduces in hand and feets as mosit heat encircles finger aand toe and provides relief.

2. Oedema and inflammation – Reduces post traumatic swelling of hands and feets. Also in sub-acute and chronic stages on inflammation.

3. Adhesion and scars –  It softens in skin to faciliate mobilization and stretching.

4. Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Joint stiffness
  • Post mobilization stiffness, scars on skin etc.

Contra- indications

  • Impaired skin sensation
  • Some dermatological condition –   Such as eczema, athletes foot etc
  • Circulatory dysfunction – Like DVT and arterial disease should not be treated with this.
  • Infections open wound, analgesic drugs
  • Allergic rash
  • Deep X-ray therapy


  • Wax is highly inflameable and it becomes overheated hence fire blankets must be used.
  • Wax split on floor makes, it slipper.
  • Hence, wax should be used carefully.


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