How to Take a Sitz Bath

6 Easy Steps to Start Healing

A sitz bath is a warm, therapeutic bath used to heal and cleanse the area around the perineum (the space between the genitals and anus). It can be done in a bathtub, or you can purchase a round, shallow washbasin which fits snugly over a standard toilet seat.

The sitz bath is an effective, at-home treatment for conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, prostatitis, genital herpes, and chronic constipation. It can also be used after childbirth to help heal tears after a vaginal delivery or for any surgery in the anogenital area.

Pediatricians will often recommend a sitz bath for children experiencing uncomfortable bowel movements or who have a rash or chafing in the perineal area.

Soaking in water warm water on its own can help speed up the healing process by boosting the blood flow to the affected area. It won't cure the condition, but it can help soothe the irritation. With a sitz bath, you also have the means to gently clean any areas that may be too painful to touch.

1
Decide Which Sitz Bath Is Right for You

Yungatart Sitz Bath
Amazon.com

The most common type of sitz bath can be purchased online or at most drug or medical supply stores. The plastic device rests on top of your toilet seat and has a cutout so that any water that overflows can spill into the toilet.

When purchased as a kit, the sitz bath will sometimes include a plastic bag with a tube on the end (similar to an enema bag) which is used to spray water over the perineum. Other, more expensive models will include a long hose that you can attach to a faucet for easy filling.

Another simpler option is to use your bathtub. Fill the tub with three to four inches of warm water and slowly lower yourself in, making certain the temperature is warm enough to be therapeutic but not scalding.

2
Choose Additives That May Help

Bowl of Epsom salts, scoop of sea salt, and small bowl of olive oil on tile surface
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While warm water alone may be enough to promote healing, some people will add bath salts and other ingredients to help reduce itching and swelling. Some of the more common add-ins include:

Each of these home remedies inhibits bacterial growth and may help reduce the risk of infection. While some people will add olive oil, essential oils, herbs, and aromatherapy fragrances, avoid using products not intended for use on skin as they may worsen the symptoms or further dry out already chafed skin.

You should not add shower gel, bubble bath, or any type of soap as these can also dry out damaged skin.

3
Prepare Your Bathroom

bathroom towels
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Before filling the sitz bath, prepare the bathroom so that you can take your time, relax, and focus on treating yourself. Since you may be in the bathroom for some time, find entertainment or things that can help relax you. This may include music, aromatherapy candles, reading materials, or even playing a game on your cell phone.

Try to get the room temperature as comfortable as possible so that you’re neither too cold or hot. Once the room is prepared and your entertainment is within reach, have plenty of towels nearby to help dry yourself or mop up any accidental spills.

Finally, make sure that everyone in the house knows to leave you alone until you are completely finished. A sitz bath is never something you should rush.

4
Fill the Sitz Bath With Warm Water

woman running hands under faucet
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Let the water from the faucet run until it is quite warm. You want it to feel warm enough to get the blood flowing but not so much that it causes your skin to turn red. A good way to test this is to let the water run over your wrist; this is where your skin is the thinnest and most sensitive.

One the temperate is just right, fill the tub or basin and swirl in any added ingredients.

If using the portable basin, do not overfill it as you still need to carry it to the toilet bowl. Once in place, top it up with a couple of glasses of warm water. Some people will even have a thermos bottle on hand if the bathroom basin is far away. This saves you from having to get up if the temperature is not right or needs warming up.

5
Sit Comfortably

How to Take a Sitz Bath
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If using a portable sitz bath, lower yourself onto the seat. Some water may be displaced but don't worry; it will spill into the cut-out directly into the toilet.

If using a tub, bend your knees when you sit to take some of the pressure off the perineal area. Alternately, you can prop your feet on the edge of ​the tub and lean back comfortably.

Once in place, check the water temperature and adjust if necessary. Once the temperature is to your liking, settle in and relax. Plan to be there for around 15 to 20 minutes. If necessary, add some more hot water to keep the temperature consistent.

6
Dry and Apply Medicated Cream If Needed

Woman pouring medicated cream into hand, close-up
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Once your 15 to 20 minutes are up, don't go rushing off to do the next thing on your to-do list. Get up slowly as you may feel lightheaded after resting in warm water for such a long time. This is not unusual, even for the portable bath.

Ideally, you will let the area air dry. If this is not possible, then pat gently with a clean cotton towel. If there are any open sores or your hemorrhoids are particularly painful, it is often better to blot dry with a think handkerchief rather than using a nubbly terrycloth towel.

If you are using any medicated ointment to soothe hemorrhoids, rash, or an anal fissure, this is a good time to apply it. Moisturizing is probably not necessary and may not be a good idea if there any infection. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water when you are finished.

If using a portable bath, wash in hot water with a mild detergent. Most sitz baths are not recommended for the dishwasher.

Source:

Lang, D.; Tho, P.; and Ang, E. "Effectiveness of the Sitz bath in managing adult patients with anorectal disorders." Jap J Nurs Sci. 2011; 8(2):115-129: DOI: 10.1111/j.1742-7924.2011.00175.x.

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