An alcohol sponge rub is a rapid way of lowering the body temperature during hi _h fevers. It will also remove accumulated skin oils and perspiration. By killing surface bacteria it also has a disinfectant action.
A properly conducted alcohol sponge rub will lower body temperature by several degrees within half an hour, but care to avoid chilling should be exercised. If the patient complains of chilliness, it is probably best to stop the sponging. Other precautions are to avoid getting alcohol fumes into the eyes and to bypass the face, and the anal and genital areas.
Sponging can be done with straight rubbing alcohol, or with a mixture of half alcohol and half tepid water. (The latter is less drying and less chilling.)
In addition to a basin with alcohol, one will need two washcloths and one or two large towels. A light blanket (or bath towel) can be used for covering the patient during the procedure. One should be sure to protect any furniture against splashing with alcohol since it may spoil the finish. Newspapers or plastic covers will be helpful.
An alcohol sponge rub is performed as follows:
1. Bring the patient toward the side of the bed.
2. Remove gown or pajamas.
3. Ring out one washcloth in the alcohol or alcohol-water mixture and place on the abdomen: renew frequently throughout the procedure.
4. Dip the other washcloth in alcohol and in rotation sponge the arms, the trunk and the legs. Place a bath towel under each part being sponged to protect the bedding.
5. Turn the patient over and sponge the back; this may be followed up with rubbing in a body lotion,
6. Spend about five minutes each on the arms, chest, and the legs.
7. Check temperature in a half hour.