Taking a sitz bath can help relieve discomfort around the anal area which can be caused by a variety of injuries or conditions. Baths may be given in the hospital after surgery or pregnancy, but they can also be performed at home to provide relief from discomfort in the rectal area.
What Is Sitz Bath?
A sitz bath is used to treat the symptoms of anal fissures or hemorrhoids by encouraging healthy blood flow to the rectal area. Some patients also use this method to help relieve constipation or to cleanse the anal area when you are suffering from itching or muscle spasms. Doctors often recommend a sitz batch after a patient has undergone surgery for hemorrhoids or an episiotomy to help improve healing time. The patient will sit in the warm water to help relax the injured area which can allow the body to better heal the wound.
When Do You Need A Sitz Bath?
Soaking in lukewarm water can help improve blood circulation and in turn accelerates the healing process. You may find a sitz bath quite effective to manage constipation, hemorrhoids, and anal fissure. It may also offer some relief after a vaginal delivery or while recovering from prostatitis.
In some cases, a sitz bath may prove helpful for children with uncomfortable bowel movements, an injury to the genital area, or a skin reaction. A sitz bath can help offer some relief from burning, soreness, and inflammation, but it is important to talk to your doctor to use other treatments at the same time.
How to Take a Sitz Bath
After surgery or treatment for anal injuries your doctor may provide you with a sitz bath seat. You may also find them at medical supply stores or pharmacies at low cost. If you cannot find a sitz bath the treatment can be performed in the bathtub. Your sitz bath may also come with tubing and a solution bag that can be used to provide a constant supply of water to the seat.
Make Some Preparations
- Check to see if your bath has a vent. Sitz baths with vents are intended to allow water to gently drain out of the bath to avoid overfilling and to provide a constant flow of water to the anal area. Some sitz baths will not have vents. Read the instructions to learn how much water to place in these baths. When using baths without vents or a bathtub you should change out the water periodically to keep it fresh and to help keep the temperature warm enough to provide relief.
- Attach the sitz bath to your toilet and ensure that it is firmly attached and fill it with warm water. Test the water against your skin before starting the treatment so that you are sure it is not warm enough to cause discomfort. Water will often feel cooler on the hands than it will on other areas of the body, so place a bit of water on the arm or leg when performing this test.
- In some cases your doctor will recommend adding a portion of salt to the water. Do not follow this step unless a medical professional has advised you to do so as it can cause further discomfort for some conditions.
- Since you will be sitting for a long period of time, take care in preparing the area where you will be taking your sitz bath. Some doctors also recommend that you plan activities such as a crossword puzzle, a movie or book. Choose activities that are soothing and relaxing rather than energetic or suspenseful to encourage a calm mood.
Start the Bath
- After you are ready to begin, remain seated for 10-20 minutes, or for the length of time recommended by your doctor. Try to sit still without making sudden movements to allow for maximum relaxation.
- Once the allotted time for your bath has passed, take care to get up slowly. Gently pat the moist area dry with a soft, clean towel. Do not rub or cause friction in this area as it can worsen the injury to the dilated blood vessels.
If symptoms persist after taking your sitz bath, repeat the treatment the next day to help encourage continued healing. Your doctor may give you a schedule that you should follow to get the maximum benefit from your sitz bath.
How to Take a Sitz Bath in the Bathtub
If you are interested in taking a sitz bath with your bathtub, here are the steps to follow.
- Start by cleaning the tub. Even when you think your bathtub looks clean, be sure to use a bleach-based product to sterilize it before taking a sitz bath. Be sure to scrub it thoroughly after using the product to get rid of any soap or cleaning product. Since you will be taking the bath to promote healing, it is important to ensure that you are exposing your open wounds to a sterile environment.
- Select a right water temperature. You need to ensure that the water is warm but not scalding hot. If it is too hot, you are only going to aggravate the inflammation and irritation. It should only be warm to promote blood flow. Test a few drops on your wrist to ensure the water is not too hot.
- Fill the tub properly. There should be 3-4 inches of water, but it usually depends on how much water you need to immerse the affected area. Ensure that you have plugged the bathtub properly before taking a bath.
- Add some soothing additives to your bathtub under your doctor’s instruction. This is optional, but can certainly help make you feel even better after the bath. You can use essential oils, but if you do not have anything, simply add ¼ cup of salt to the water before soaking in it. You can add ½ cup of vinegar along with salt to treat a vaginal infection. For hemorrhoids, your bath water should have 2 tbsps. of baking soda, ½ cup of Epsom salt, 2 tbsps. of witch hazel, 8 drops of lavender oil, 1 tbsps. of olive oil, and 8 drops of chamomile oil.
- Soak in the water for long enough. Ideally, you should be sitting and relaxing in your bathtub for about half an hour. You may have to let warm water run to maintain the temperature.
- Dry yourself after the bath with utmost care. You should be extra careful when drying the affected area. It is better to pat dry yourself with a soft towel. Never rub or scrub your skin after a sitz bath.