What Is a Paraffin Bath?

A paraffin wax bath is a type of heat treatment used for both medical and cosmetic purposes. Paraffin baths can help ease the pain that accompanies arthritis, rheumatism and other joint conditions. They are used to soothe pain from sports-related injuries. Paraffin baths are also used in spas and salons as beauty treatments to soften dry skin, particularly for manicures and pedicures.


A paraffin bath unit is an insulated container fitted with heating elements that gently melts paraffin wax chips. Once the wax melts, it maintains a comfortable temperature between around 120 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. (The exact temperature differs slightly by manufacturer.) The paraffin wax is in “bead” or pellet form in order to melt quickly and evenly.


Paraffin wax can be infused with mineral oils that help soften the skin further. Also, scented waxes are available from some suppliers. Scents like peach, lavender and wintergreen can add an aromatherapy component to the paraffin wax treatment. You may also add essential oils to unscented paraffin wax to create your own scents.


To use a paraffin bath, apply warm wax to a specific area of the body (a knee, elbow or hand, for example) by immersing it into a special container. Quickly withdraw the body part. The heated wax coats the body part and solidifies. It insulate the body part and helps it retain heat. The process is repeated several times, and then a plastic bag is placed over the body part, often followed by a layer of towels. After approximately 20 minutes, the wax is removed.


Paraffin baths provide pain relief without the use of medication. The heat can ease muscle aches, improve circulation and reduce inflammation. People who use paraffin baths for beauty purposes enjoy the moisturizing qualities of the wax. You can purchase them for home use, so you don’t need to go somewhere every time you desire a paraffin treatment.


Paraffin baths are not appropriate for everyone. If you suffer from diabetes, hypertension, varicose veins, other circulation ailments or if you have reduced sensation in your extremities, you should consult your physician before using a paraffin bath. If you are using a personal paraffin bath at home, it is important to read through all of the manufacturer’s instructions and use the unit properly. If you don’t, you risk burning yourself. Always discard the paraffin used in the bath when you are finished with the treatment. Reusing previously melted paraffin wax is discouraged.