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 Personal hygiene in the 18th century.

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Personal hygiene in the 18th century.   Wed 07 Oct 2015, 22:12

Read this week that due to French scientists the fear for hot water as not hygienic caused a real disaster of odours and even ilnesses.
Did some research on the web to start with:
http://www.localhistories.org/washing.html

http://madameisistoilette.blogspot.be/2014/09/keeping-clean-in-18th-century.html
"There was also a cultural resistance to warm baths, which was still around in the early 18h century,  a widespread notion that bathing in warm water was harmful. Pores were seen as openings in the skin and many doctors believed that bathing made it possible for diseases to enter the body"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathing
"Additionally, from the late Middle Ages through to the end of the 18th century, etiquette and medical manuals advised people to only wash the parts of the body that were visible to the public; for example, the ears, hands, feet, and face and neck. This did away with the public baths and left the cleaning of oneself to the privacy of one's home.[citation needed]
The switch from woolen to linen clothing by the 16th century also accompanied the decline in bathing. Linen clothing is much easier to clean and maintain – and such clothing was becoming commonplace at the time in Western Europe. Clean linen shirts or blouses allowed people who had not bathed to appear clean and well groomed. The possession of a large quantity of clean linen clothing was a sign of social status. Thus, appearance became more important than personal hygiene. Medical opinion supported this claim. Physicians of the period believed that odors, or miasma, such as that which would be found in soiled linens, caused disease. A person could therefore change one's shirt every few days, but avoid baths – which might let the 'bad air' into the body through the pores. Consequently, in an age in which there were very few personal bathtubs, laundry was an important and weekly chore which was commonly undertaken by laundresses of the time"

http://www.funtrivia.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/274160/Hygiene_in_18th_Century_France
And in the article one learns also this:
"The use of cosmetics, particularly the use of rouge, became a class indicator. Good girls didn't; bad girls did. Prostitutes placed rouge on their lips and cheeks to mimic the effects of sexual arousal. (It is well known that the body undergoes a natural flush during arousal—the skin glows, the lips engorge with blood. Red lipstick and pink face powder imitated these natural effects.)"


And finally one note from our old BBC forum about bathing.
Unbelievable and I made already many times notice to my friends: as far as New Zeeland, Australia, Canada, the US and of course also we, Continentals as from the British Isles had the weekly bathing on Saturday in a zinc plated tub, first the girls and then the boys...I even recall that the now deceased endicrynologue Ross Durham said that the zinc plated tub hung outside the house under a lean-to ready to be taken every week...

And a second I hope now final note Wink : it was also a lesson to me that even scientists and medical doctors can have the wrong ideas and lead people in the wrong way...as the blood letting...

Kind regards, Paul.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Personal hygiene in the 18th century.   Thu 08 Oct 2015, 00:16

Paul :
The galvanized tub was much in use in my great-grandparents day - they lived in a mining community and he made his living as a coal merchant, and needed a bath (in front of the living room fire) every day - but at least he could use his less valuable stock, whilst the colliers had to use their precious "allowance" coal. Private, small pits in that area never ran to the luxury of a pithead baths even before http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zzuyZ8sCeY
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Personal hygiene in the 18th century.   Thu 08 Oct 2015, 08:16

The installation of pithead baths was mentioned in A.J. Cronin's superb "The Stars Look Down" (first published 1935):

"Ay," Heddon said grimly, "you just watch what I'm telling you. Old Barras has got knocked out and the son thinks he's goin' to run the show. He's spreading hisself on pithead baths and the usual hygienic eyewash, spending some of the money his old man bled out the men, dodging the excess profits, see, an' the super tax, makin' us believe a bloddy new Jerusalem is rising out of the Neptune. But you wait, just you wait, we haven't forgotten what they done to us at the disaster. They got out of that too easy. I been waiting on the war to finish so as I could get after them. They're goin' to sit up and know some more about it before I'm bloddy well finished with them!" Heddon broke off suddenly, staring in front of him. For a minute he looked hard and dark and grim. Then he relit his pipe which had gone out, pulled a tray of unanswered correspondence towards him. "Start Monday, then," he said to David, terminating the interview with a dreadful jocosity. "Go on! Don't keep your Rolls waiting outside any longer or the footman will be handing in his bloddy notice."


Elizabeth 1 very nearly died from smallpox in 1562. The sentence I have underlined in the following is confusing. Has Alison Weir got this wrong?

Queen Elizabeth was at Hampton Court when, on October 10th 1562, she first felt unwell. Believing, as many did then, that it would effect a cure, she immersed herself in a bath, then took a bracing walk outdoors; as a result she caught a chill. Within hours she had taken to her bed, running a high temperature.
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Personal hygiene in the 18th century.   Thu 08 Oct 2015, 12:27

Going by this link, the Finns and other Nordic cultures had a well established sauna / steam bath tradition;

http://www.cyberbohemia.com/Pages/historyofnordic.htm
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Personal hygiene in the 18th century.   Thu 08 Oct 2015, 12:53

@Temperance wrote:

Elizabeth 1 very nearly died from smallpox in 1562. The sentence I have underlined in the following is confusing. Has Alison Weir got this wrong?

Queen Elizabeth was at Hampton Court when, on October 10th 1562, she first felt unwell. Believing, as many did then, that it would effect a cure, she immersed herself in a bath, then took a bracing walk outdoors; as a result she caught a chill. Within hours she had taken to her bed, running a high temperature.

Could it be that Elizabeth's doctors, noting her high temperature and recognising a dangerously high fever as a typical early symptom of smallpox, (and that year there was an epidemic of smallpox throughout London, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and so infection was alwlays a distinct possibility for one who'd not yet had it, such as the Queen), recommended she take a cold bath to try and bring the fever down. The said "bath" may have been taken fully clothed, or it might even have been what we might call "a blanket bath", ie more of an application of cold damp cloths ... followed by a "bracing walk outdoors" (in October) again to try and bring the body temperature down. Well into the 20th century a common hospital treatment for a dangerously high fever was an iced bath (literally ice-cubes in water). 

The usual 16th century treatment for smallpox, once the initial high fever had been reduced, was red blankets and red curtains over the windows, and then bandages on the head and hands to stop the patient scratching the itchy pustules, and so try and reduce the amount of pitting and scarring of the face.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 08 Oct 2015, 15:58; edited 4 times in total
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Personal hygiene in the 18th century.   Thu 08 Oct 2015, 13:00

I was third in the pecking order in one of these every Saturday afternoon (three feet in front of a roaring range in the kitchen with half the female population of the village dropping in for tea and a chat while I was in it, as I well recall).



I wonder what ever happened to it? Such a crucial piece of the domestic furniture in its long, useful and busy life and then suddenly - vips!

Taking a warm bath accelerates certain medications' absorption, a fact as well known to Elizabethan doctors as current ones (though the current ones warn against it while Elizabeth's might have given opposite advice). I imagine the bracing walk she took however was what done for her. What with her immune system weakened and all. October 10th can be pretty chilly to be going galavanting round in the elements when under the weather - even slightly chillier in her time probably pre-calendar adjustment.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Personal hygiene in the 18th century.   Thu 08 Oct 2015, 14:31

@Triceratops wrote:
Going by this link, the Finns and other Nordic cultures had a well established sauna / steam bath tradition;

http://www.cyberbohemia.com/Pages/historyofnordic.htm


if the thread title was 18th c. BCE hygiene, then this would fit in nicely.




A bronze Age sauna on Westray, Orkney.


http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/09/2015/archaeologists-uncover-bronze-age-sauna-house-at-links-of-notland
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/news/news_article.htm?articleid=47237
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