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Updated 2024

HOT WATER BAG – HOT APPLICATION – Purpose, Preliminary Assessment, Preparation of Patient and Environment, Equipment, Procedure and After Care

Hot water bag is a common method of applying local dry heat. It used as both a therapeutic and a conform measure.

Hot water bag application is defined as process of applying dry heat by means of a rubber bag on specific part of body


  • To provide comfort and warmth
  • To stimulate circulation
  • To relieve pain
  • To relax muscles
  • To promote healing
  • To relieve congestion and inflammation
  • To relieve bladder distension

Preliminary Assessment


  • Doctors order for any specific instructions
  • General condition of the patient
  • Type of application to be used, duration and frequency of treatment
  • Inspect the part for any lesions
  • Presence of any contraindications for the application of heat
  • Self-care ability to follow instruction
  • Articles available in the unit

Preparation of the Patient and Environment

  • Explain the procedure to the patient
  • Provide privacy, if needed
  • Expose only the part that needs treatment
  • Place in a comfortable position
  • Arrange the articles at the bed side


  • Hot water bag with cover
  • Jugs – 2
  • Duster – 1
  • Towel – 1
  • Vaseline or oil
  • Bath thermometer


  • Wash hands
  • Check hot water bag for any leakage
  • Check the temperature of water with a bath thermometer
  • The temperature should be 105 to 115 degree F for children and 115 to 125 degree F for adults
  • Keep the bag on flat surface
  • Pour hot water into bag until 2/3rd full
  • Expel excess air by permitting water to come to mouth of bag and then close
  • Hold bag upside down to check for leakage
  • Wipe outside with duster put into flannel cover and apply to part
  • Expose only the part that needs treatment and apply it. Apply the hot water bag over the area and cover it with the towel or sheet
  • Provide warmth by covering all nontreatment areas with bath blanket or bed covers
  • Remove bag after about 20 to 30 minutes

After Care

  • Dry the area if, moist the perspiration
  • Inspect the part for redness
  • Position the patient comfortably on the bed
  • Cover the patient with sheets and remove the drapes if any
  • Empty the bag and hang upside down
  • Replace the articles after cleaning
  • Wash hands
  • Record the procedure in nurse’s record sheet
Hot water bag application - hot application - KEY POINTS

General Instructions

  • The water should not be hot enough to burn the patient
  • The temperature of the water should be between 105 to 115 degree F for children and 115 to 125 degree F for adult
  • Air should be expelled out from the hot water bag because air in the bag will interfere with the conduction of heat
  • In case of unconscious patient, patient in shock or as infant that hot water bag should be placed outside the blanket covering the patient
  • Assess the condition of the patient prior to, during and after the application of the heat, watch for the vital signs
  • Maintain the correct temperature for entire duration of the application
  • Check the position of hot water bag frequently when the patient is very sick or unconscious


  • Open wounds
  • Hypertension
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Impaired kidney, heart and lung functions
  • Acute inflammations
HOT WATER BAG – HOT APPLICATION – Purpose, Preliminary Assessment, Preparation of Patient and Environment, Equipment, Procedure and After Care
HOT WATER BAG – HOT APPLICATION – Purpose, Preliminary Assessment, Preparation of Patient and Environment, Equipment, Procedure and After Care






Hot water bag application, also known as hot water bottle therapy, is a common method of applying heat to relieve pain or discomfort. Here are key points to consider when using a hot water bag:

  1. Indications:
    • Hot water bags are typically used to provide comfort and relieve muscle aches, joint pain, menstrual cramps, and other localized discomforts.
  2. Inspection:
    • Before use, inspect the hot water bag for any signs of damage, leaks, or wear. Ensure that the cap or stopper is secure.
  3. Type of Hot Water Bag:
    • Choose the appropriate type of hot water bag. Some are made of rubber, while others may be made of alternative materials. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  4. Temperature Regulation:
    • Fill the hot water bag with water at a temperature that is comfortable and safe for the patient. Avoid using boiling water to prevent burns.
  5. Preventing Burns:
    • Wrap the hot water bag in a towel or cloth before applying it to the skin. This helps prevent direct contact and reduces the risk of burns.
  6. Application Time:
    • Follow the recommended application time based on the healthcare provider’s instructions. Prolonged exposure can lead to skin damage.
  7. Positioning:
    • Ensure that the hot water bag is securely placed on the affected area. Avoid placing excessive pressure on the bag to prevent leaks.
  8. Monitoring:
    • Regularly check the patient’s skin for signs of irritation, redness, or burns during and after the application.
    • Ensure that the patient can tolerate the heat and is comfortable with the application.
  9. Patient Education:
    • Instruct the patient on the proper use of the hot water bag.
    • Advise them to report any discomfort, skin changes, or adverse reactions promptly.
  10. Storage and Maintenance:
    • Store the hot water bag in a cool, dry place when not in use.
    • Periodically check for wear and tear, and replace the hot water bag if it shows signs of damage.
  11. Contraindications:
    • Avoid using hot water bags in certain conditions such as acute inflammation, open wounds, or impaired sensation.
  12. Documentation:
    • Record the application details, including the duration, temperature, and the patient’s response, in the patient’s medical record.


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