A hot wax hand bath, also called a paraffin hand bath, is useful as a relaxing and skin-softening treatment in a salon or spa. Melting units made especially for hot wax hand spa treatments at home are also available in cosmetic and department stores, along with 3- or 6-lb. blocks of paraffin wax, which are often scented with aromatherapy oils. Larger units--which may also be used for feet or other body parts--can be found in many physical therapy offices.
A special formulation of paraffin wax is heated to a temperature that is quite warm to the touch but still safe for skin. Some home brands of paraffin spas may take as long as 30 to 45 minutes to heat up; larger commercial units may heat up instantly. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before beginning. The website Nail Tech Secrets recommends applying lotion to your hands before immersing them in the paraffin for an extra moisturizing treatment.
Let the wax completely liquefy. Spread your fingers wide and dip your hand into the paraffin up to the wrist bone, then slowly remove it. Allow the wax to dry for a moment, then repeat the dipping motion five to 10 times. After your hand is thoroughly coated with warm wax, wrap it loosely inside the plastic wrap that comes with the unit. Then place your inside the terrycloth mitt that comes with the unit, or inside a towel, which will help retain the heat of the wax. You can treat one hand at a time, or both hands, although doing both hands at the same time is easier if you have someone to assist you.
Leave the wax on your hand until it is no longer warm, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully peel off the wax. If you are using a home unit, you can put the wax back in the unit for reuse, although in a salon or therapy setting you may be asked to discard it.
The heat of the wax during the paraffin treatment is soothing and relaxing. Your hands feel smooth and soft when you remove remove the wax. According to the Institute, a medical day spa, hot wax hand baths provide stress relief as well as increased circulation and improved skin color. Many enjoy a hot wax treatment as part of their manicure.
Hot wax hand treatments may also be used as therapy for those who suffer from arthritis, stiff joints, fibromyalgia, inflammation, eczema, psoriasis or scar tissue. The treatment may be followed by exercise, massage or stretching. In a 2004 study of patients with scleroderma that was conducted at the Department of Rheumatology at Lund University Hospital in Sweden, it was determined that a combination of hand exercise with a paraffin bath improved mobility, perceived stiffness and skin elasticity.
Paraffin treatments are not recommended for those who suffer from varicose veins or who have hypertension or diabetes.