How to Take a Sitz Bath for Healing

A sitz bath is a simple, non-drug treatment that promotes healing in your perineum. It can provide soothing relief for conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, chronic constipation, or after childbirth. Just sitting in warm water for a short period of time can promote blood flow and ease discomfort. 

Sitz baths are safe for children as long as they are under adult supervision.

Decide Which Sitz Bath Option Is Right for You.

Yungatart Sitz Bath
Photo ©

The most common type of sitz bath is to use a special plastic bowl that sits on top of your toilet seat. It has a cutout so that overflowing water will return to your toilet bowl. You can find such a sitz bath bowl at your local drugstore or medical supply store or online. 

There are some more expensive systems that provide the option of hooking up to your faucet or a solution bag, but the old school sitz bath should get the job done for you.

An alternative option is to use your bathtub. Just fill the tub up with three to four inches of warm water and slowly lower yourself in, making sure that the water is not so hot that it will cause a burn. You will want to bend your knees to take the pressure off of your perineal area so that the tissue down there can benefit from the warm water.


What to Add to Your Sitz Bath

Salt from the sea
by Marion C. Haßold, / Getty Images

You will get great benefit just from plain old warm water. But you may want to add some other ingredients that can be effective in soothing the sensitive area and to further promote healing. Here are some options:

  • Epsom salts
  • Sea salt
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda (possible antibacterial qualities)

How much to add is a personal preference.  You may want to start with a quarter of a cup of the add-in and adjust accordingly. If you are using your bathtub as opposed to a sitz bath, you'll obviously want to use more of the add-in. 

Gather Things to Entertain You

magazines, tablet, coffee cup
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You will be sitting for a period of time, and since the idea is that you want to promote healing, make sure you feel comfortable and relaxed. You may want to have access to something to occupy your mind - a magazine, a good book, or your tablet or smartphone. Of course, you'll want to be careful not to get your phone or tablet wet. 


Prepare Your Bathroom


Before filling the sitz bath, there are a few things you can to do to prep your bathroom:

  1. Make sure your entertainment is within arm's reach of the toilet.
  2. Put the toilet seat up.
  3. Have a clean towel nearby for drying. 

Fill the Sitz Bath with Warm Water

woman running hands under faucet
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Before filling the sitz bath, run the water until it is quite warm. You want it to feel warmly soothing, but not so hot that it burns. When you are filling it,  this is the time to add any Epsom salt, vinegar or baking soda if you choose to.

Once the bath is filled, carefully transfer it to the top of your toilet. Remember that your toilet seat needs to be up.

Sit Comfortably

woman sitting on toilet
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Sit yourself down in the sitz bath. The water that is displaced by your body will drain out the top of the bath into your toilet.

Assess the water temperature making sure it's not too hot or too cold. Once the water temperature is to your liking, settle in and relax. Enjoy the restorative powers of a few moments spent sitting quietly. Plan to sit in the sitz bath for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. 

If necessary, you can add some more hot water to keep the temperature consistent.

Get up Slowly

Man leaning against bathroom sink
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Once your 15 to 20 minutes is up, don't go rushing off to do the next thing on your to-do list. Get up slowly. This is important because dilated blood vessels caused by the warm water may result in dizziness. Make sure that your head and body feel OK before moving on to the next step.

Carefully Dry the Area

woman drying off with towel
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Ideally, you will let the area air dry.

If that is not possible, then gently pat the wet areas of your body dry with a clean cotton towel.

If you are using a cream or ointment to soothe hemorrhoids or an anal fissure, this is a good time to apply it.

Before you leave the bathroom,  be sure to wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water. If using a sitz bath bowl, be sure to wash it in hot water with a mild detergent. Most sitz baths are not recommended for the dishwasher. 

Repeat a Sitz Bath as Necessary

water running out of a faucet
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How often to take a sitz bath depends on your symptoms. The general recommendation is to take sitz baths one to three times a day when you have acute symptoms, and a few times a week if you're dealing with an ongoing condition. 

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