How to Take a Sitz Bath

A sitz bath is a wonderful, non-drug treatment for hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Requiring that you do no more than sit in warm water for a short period of time, sitz baths promote healing and ease discomfort by encouraging blood flow to the rectal area. It's also thought that they help relax the anal sphincter. If you suffer from chronic constipation, you will find that sitz baths will become a soothing aspect of your self-care.

Purchase a Sitz Bath

Barbara Bradley Bolen, Ph.D.

The sitz bath is a 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 a plastic sitz bath at your local drugstore or medical supply store. 

There are costlier 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.

Gather Things to Entertain You

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You will be sitting for a period of time and the whole point is that you want to relax, so you might want to have access to something to occupy your mind - a magazine, a good book or a crossword puzzle.

It might be tempting to bring in your smartphone or tablet, but it could be a costly mistake if you get it wet! If you do choose to bring your mobile device in with you, be very, very careful!

Prepare Your Bathroom

toilet seat up
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There are a few things 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

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Before filling the bath, run the water until it is quite warm. You want it to feel warmly soothing, but not so hot that it burns.

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 on the sitz bath. You will see that the water that your butt displaces will drain out the top of the bath into your toilet.

Assess the water temperature: If the water is too hot, add a little cold water. If the water is too cold, add a little hot water. Like Goldilocks, you want it to be just right.

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 on the sitz bath for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. 

If necessary, you can add some more hot water to keep the bath at just the right temperature.

Get up Slowly

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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 fine before moving on to the next step.

Carefully Dry the Area

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Ideally, you will let the area air dry.

If that is not possible, then gently pat your butt dry with a clean cotton towel.

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

Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water.

Repeat as Necessary

water running out of a faucet
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How often to take a sitz bath depends on how severe your symptoms are. The general recommendation is to take sitz baths one to three times a day.

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