What is a sitz bath?
A sitz bath is a shallow bath using warm water to help ease pain or itching in the perineum, the area between the anus and the scrotum or vulva. The word sitz is derived from the German word sitzen, meaning to sit. A sitz bath is usually recommended for people who have an anal fissure, hemorrhoids, or women who have just given birth.
You can easily take a sitz bath in a bathtub or with a plastic kit that can fit over the toilet. A sitz bath kit comes with a shallow basin and a plastic bag with a tubing. The plastic bag can be filled with lukewarm water and is used to fill the bath through the tubing. A sitz bath kit can be purchased in pharmacies and many stores.
There is no need for a doctor’s prescription when taking a sitz bath. In fact, some people take regular sitz baths to cleanse their perineum. Aside from its use in cleansing, taking a sitz bath can help increase the flow of blood to the perineum, which leads to a faster healing. Taking a sitz bath can also help ease the following discomforts:
- Mild pain
A sitz bath is usually recommended if you have any of the following:
- Experiencing discomfort from hemorrhoids
- A recent hemorrhoid surgery
- A recent vaginal childbirth
- A recent genital surgery
- Experiencing discomfort when having bowel movements
A sitz bath can be taken by both adults and children. However, children taking a sitz bath must be accompanied or supervised by their parents. A sitz bath can be taken using only warm water. However, there are cases when doctors prescribe other additives or medications to add to the sitz bath. Some of the common additives are:
- Povidone-iodine (an antiseptic to disinfect the skin)
- Table salt
- Baking soda
6 Benefits of Taking a Sitz Bath
1. Healing after surgery
Taking a sitz bath in lukewarm water after surgery can help heal the perineum. A sitz bath can help increase blood flow to the region and boost the healing process. To prevent any infection from developing, povidone-iodine solution, an antiseptic, can be added to the bath.
2. Relief from hemorrhoids
A sitz bath is generally recommended to people who have painful hemorrhoids to help soothe the affected area. A sitz bath can be done several times a day and should last at least 15 minutes, particularly after having a bowel movement.
Taking a sitz bath can help people relieve burning, aching, and itching in the anal region. It is also one of the natural methods to get rid of hemorrhoids fast.
3. Relief from vaginal discomforts
Women may experience vaginal discomforts from time to time. These discomforts include vaginal odor, vaginal itching, and vaginal discharge. These symptoms do not always suggest an infection, but rather a result from certain conditions that affect the vagina.
The vagina can become irritated and cause symptoms of vaginal discomfort. Certain chemicals and the following materials can irritate the vagina:
- Scented hygiene/feminine products
- Bubble baths
- Laundry detergents
- Contraceptive jellies and foams
- Wearing underwear made from synthetic materials
Treatment usually depends on the cause of irritation, but taking a sitz bath generally helps relieve irritated skin, vaginal itching, and other vaginal discomforts.
4. Faster healing after childbirth
During delivery, the vagina and perineum can be injured, which may cause bruising or swelling. These injuries can cause significant pain in new mothers. Taking a sitz bath is a simple and easy way to relieve pain and discomfort in the vaginal area and perineum after childbirth.
To promote faster healing, aside from warm water, certain herbs can be added to the bath. Herbs that possess antibacterial and wound-healing properties can help reduce vaginal soreness and swelling, as well as speed up the healing of perineal bruising and tears due to childbirth.
Some of the herbs that can be added to a sitz bath to promote postpartum perineal healing may include:
- Lady’s Mantle
- Witch Hazel
- Yarrow flowers
- Marshmallow Root
5. For constipation
A sitz bath is an effective home remedy when it comes to dealing with chronic constipation. Doctors usually recommend taking a sitz bath to people who experience uncomfortable bowel movements or those who have chafing or irritation in the perineum.
Although it won’t completely cure the condition, it can greatly help ease pain and irritation. When taking a sitz bath, people can also carefully clean the areas that are quite painful to touch.
6. Relief from menstrual cramps
Women who experience menstrual cramps can also take a sitz bath to achieve relief. It is a natural and effective method of relieving cramps during menstrual periods. A warm sitz bath can help increase blood circulation to the affected area, thereby reducing the effects of certain chemicals that can cause cramps.
How to Take a Sitz Bath
Taking a sitz bath does not take a lot of warm water. You only need a couple of inches, enough to soak your private area. Avoid adding any type of soap, scented shower gels, or bubble bath to the water. Moreover, make sure that you use lukewarm water, which is comfortable enough to the touch.
You can take a sitz bath up to three times daily for about 10-15 minutes. The frequency of taking a sitz bath usually depends on your condition.
If you are taking a sitz bath in the bathtub:
- Fill the tub with warm water until it reaches 2-3 inches.
- Sit comfortably in the bathtub and soak your private area.
- Wait and relax for 10-15 minutes.
- When finished, pat the area dry using a clean and soft cotton towel.
Taking a sitz bath using a sitz bath kit:
- Place the sitz bath bowl on the toilet rim. Ensure that the bowl won't move around.
- Fill the bowl with lukewarm water.
- Medicine, salt, and other additives can be added to the warm water. You can also follow your healthcare provider's advice or read the package instructions on how to properly fill the sitz bath bowl. There are sitz bath kits with plastic bags and tubings, which let you fill the bowl with water.
- When everything is ready, sit down on the bowl for approximately 15 minutes.