What is a sitz bath?
A sitz bath is a bath in which the buttocks and hips are immersed in water. It is often performed to help heal anal and genital wounds or to relieve the discomfort and pain in the lower body associated with proctologic conditions such as hemorrhoids and fissure. A sitz bath is a great way to maintain the highest level of hygiene in the anal and genital areas. Sitz bath is usually performed twice a day but can be done more frequently if needed.
How to perform a sitz bath?
The standard sitz bath is performed in a bathtub at home. If a bathtub is not available or for some reason you prefer an alternative then a portable plastic basin that fits into the toilet bowl can be used [Figure 1].
A sitz bath is created by filling the bathtub with 10 centimeters depth of hot water (about 104 °F (40 °C)) and sitting in it for 15 to 20 minutes. Sitz bath is preferably done with you sitting in warm water but cold water can be used if it provides more comfort if you have fresh wounds, inflammation, vaginal discharge or in cases of stool or urinary incontinence as it can increase toning of the muscle. Additives such as salt, baking soda, vinegar, witch hazel, Epsom salt, Betadine, liquid soap, or a variety of available herbal additives can be added to the water (1/4 to ½ cup). Water mixed with salt and vinegar can help in women with yeast vaginal infection. Warm bath is recommended for reducing the itching, pain, and discomfort associated with conditions such as hemorrhoids and genital problems.
If you use a basin for sitz bath, mount it over a toilet seat and place the “Front” designation on the basin toward the front of the toilet bowel [Figure 2].
Fill the basin about 2/3 of the way with warm water and insert tubing as shown. If you use one of the additive mentioned above, add 1-2 tablespoons to the basin. You can bring the tubing either through the front hole or back hole. After clamping the tubing, fill the bag with water at desired temperature and hang the bag on a pole. If you do not have a metal pole to hang the bag as shown then you can hang the bag on any available hanger in your bathroom. Sit in the basin and periodically you can add water to the basin to maintain the temperature by opening the clamp. Overflow of water will drain through the back of the basin. After treatment, drain the basin in the toilet and wash in preparation for next use.
If you use the tub for a warm sitz bath, it is preferable to get up slowly at the end and to sit on the edge of the tub for 30 seconds before you get up. The warm water can dilate the blood vessels and occasionally cause dizziness especially if you take blood pressure medications. If you are old, have neurologic issues, or take a significant amount of medications for heart and blood pressure, it is best if someone assists you when you get up from the tub. After a sitz bath, pat the area dry. If you have anal or vaginal wounds, follow the instructions given to you by Dr. Maher Abbas or his nurse.
A follow-up appointment will be scheduled for you depending on your medical need. Until the scheduled appointment, continue the sitz bath as prescribed.
Any questions? Contact Dr. Maher A. Abbas’ office nurse here!