AskDefine | Define poultice

Dictionary Definition

poultice n : a medical dressing consisting of a soft heated mass of meal or clay that is spread on a cloth and applied to the skin to treat inflamed areas or improve circulation etc. [syn: cataplasm, plaster] v : dress by covering with a therapeutic substance [syn: plaster]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A soft moist mass applied topically to sore, aching or lesioned part of the body to sooth. The poultice is usually wrapped in cloth and often warmed before being applied.


Extensive Definition

A poultice, also called cataplasm, is a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated, that is spread on cloth over the skin to treat an aching, inflamed, or painful part of the body. It can also be a porous solid filled with solvent used to remove stains from porous stone such as marble or granite.
The word "poultice" comes from the Latin puls, pultes, meaning "porridge." Historically poultices were made from bread or other cereals, or lead, which is thought to have resulted in the fatal advancement of existing lead poisoning in Beethoven.

Types of poultice

  • 'Animalintex' is a brand name poultice made from an absorbent material
  • Bran is also used as a poultice because of its absorbent quality. It is packed into the wound and then covered with a piece of sacking or similar material, before being bandaged onto the foot or site of the wound.
  • There are also many commercial poultices that are ready-made. Some of these may be labelled as "drawing salves" .

Inflammation treatment

A poultice is a common treatment used on horses to relieve inflammation. It is usually used on the lower legs, under a stable bandage, to focus treatment on the easily-injured tendons in the area. Poultices are sometimes applied as a precautionary measure after the horse has worked hard, such as after a cross-country run, to prevent heat and filling. They are also used to treat abscess wounds, where a build up of pus needs to be drawn out.
Poultices may also be heated and placed on an area where extra circulation is desired.
After the Chernobyl accident, this was the primary method of care for the herpes blisters caused by the radiation.

Stain removal

Stone is a porous material which is susceptible to staining. Granite and marble are frequently used in residential construction of bathrooms and kitchens and are susceptible to a variety of stains.
From a chemical standpoint, a porous stone becomes stained when a solution containing a solute penetrates its surface and then evaporates leaving the solid solute behind within the stone. Alternatively, grease may penetrate the porous surface and remain within the stone without evaporating. In either case, the stone will become visibly "stained."
Poultices for removing stains are made from a malleable mass of a porous material (paper, whiting, diatomaceous earth, flour, limestone) filled with a solvent which can be applied to the surface of the stone. The solvent used (ammonia, acetone, alcohol, peroxide, etc.) depends on what substance caused the stain. As the solvent penetrates the surface of the porous stone containing the stain, it forms a single continuous solution between the stone and the poultice on the surface. The poultice is kept moist and covered to allow time for the solvent to sufficiently penetrate the stone and dissolve the staining material, be it grease or solute. The solute will then equilibrate by passive diffusion between the stone and the poultice. After an adequate time for this process to occur, the poultice is removed and with it the solution containing a portion of the dissolved solute or "stain." Multiple repetitions of the process will eventually decrease the concentration of the solute or "stain" within the stone until it is invisible or minimally visible.


poultice in French: Cataplasme
poultice in Italian: Cataplasma
poultice in Japanese: 湿布
poultice in Norwegian: Grøtomslag
poultice in Portuguese: Caasma

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ace bandage, Band-Aid, abate, adhesive tape, allay, alleviate, anesthetize, appease, application, assuage, band, bandage, bandaging, bathe, benumb, binder, brace, butter, care for, cast, cataplasm, compress, cotton, court plaster, cravat, crush, cure, cushion, deaden, deaden the pain, dental pulp, diagnose, diminish, doctor, dressing, dull, ease, ease matters, elastic bandage, epithem, flux, foment, four-tailed bandage, gauze, give care to, give relief, heal, lay, lessen, lint, lull, mash, massage, minister to, mitigate, mollify, mush, numb, nurse, operate on, pad, palliate, paper pulp, paste, physic, pith, plaster, plaster cast, pledget, porridge, pour balm into, pour oil on, pudding, pulp, pulp lead, pulpwood, purge, rag pulp, reduce, relieve, remedy, roller, roller bandage, rub, rubber bandage, salve, sauce, slacken, slake, sling, smash, soften, soothe, splint, sponge, squash, strap, stupe, subdue, sulfate pulp, sulfite pulp, tampon, tape, tent, tourniquet, treat, triangular bandage, white lead, wood pulp
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