A sitz bath can help bring relief for people with pain, inflammation, swelling or irritation in the perineum thus the space between rectum and vulva or scrotum. It is a way of bathing the genitals and its surrounding areas.
A sitz bath can be useful for people who have problems in the anal area such as hemorrhoids, or an infection in the anogenital area. It can also provide relief and boost healing in women after vaginal childbirth.
What is a sitz bath?
It is a therapeutic, warm water bath generally used for healing or cleaning of the genitals or the pelvic area. It cleanses the perineum. This is the region between the rectum and the vulva (females) or scrotum (males). The word ‘sitz’ originates from the German word ‘sitzen’, which means sit.
Ingredients necessary for a sitz bath
Different ingredients can be added to a sitz bath. However, most women find that adding herbs is beneficial for quick healing. Here is the list of the various ingredients used for a sitz bath:
- Epsom salt
- Aloe vera
- Witch hazel
- Himalayan salt
- Red raspberry leaf
- Coconut oil
- Table salt
- Baking soda
- Lavender essential oil
Note: Consult your doctor or the herbalist before using an essential oil, to check if its safe for you.
How to take a sitz bath using a plastic kit?
You can take a sitz bath in a plastic kit.
- Place the basin carefully on the toilet seat, such that it stays in place firmly.
- Use the manual that you get with the kit and follow the instructions.
- Add warm water to the tub. The kit comes with a plastic bag into which you can add warm water. This water can be used to fill the basin when the existing water cools down. A vent in the sitz bath prevents the water from overflowing.
- Fill enough water to cover your perineum.
- Sit for 15-20 minutes and get up carefully after you finish.
- Use a clean towel to pat dry your bottom.
- After use, wash the basin with a disinfectant that comes with the kit.
Taking a sitz bath in the bathtub
If you’re taking a sitz bath in the bathtub, the first step is to clean the tub.
- Clean the tub by mixing 2 tablespoons of bleach with 1/2 gallon of water. Scrub the bathtub and rinse thoroughly.
- Next, fill the tub with 3 to 4 inches of water. The water should be warm, but not hot enough to cause burns or discomfort. You can test the temperature of the water by placing a drop or two on your wrist. When you’ve found a comfortable temperature, add any substances your doctor recommended to the bath.
- Now, step into the tub and soak your perineum for 15 to 20 minutes. Bend your knees or, if possible, dangle your legs over the sides of the tub to keep them out of the water altogether.
- When you get out of the bathtub, gently pat yourself dry with a clean cotton towel. Don’t rub or scrub the perineum, as this may cause pain and irritation.
- Finish by rinsing the bathtub thoroughly.
Why are sitz baths used?
A sitz bath doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription. Some people use it to reduce inflammation, improve hygiene and also promote blood flow to the anogenital area.
Common uses include:
- Keeping the anus clean,
- Reducing inflammation and discomfort
- Healing perineal and vaginal lacerations after vaginal childbirth.
- Recent surgery in the anogenital area
- Discomfort from bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Discomfort from hemorrhoids, especially if they push outside of the anus
- Anal fissures. It can be painful and they are formed by little tears inside the anus. They can result from constipation, diarrhea, and vaginal childbirth.
Sitz bath benefits for women
The main use of a sitz bath for women is to promote comfort and healing after childbirth. A sitz bath can be helpful following childbirth. A sitz bath can relieve any discomfort in the genital area and help reduce healing time after labour. The sitz bath can also help soothe hemorrhoids, which occur in some pregnant women and can also develop after giving birth, due to pushing during labor. However, there are other benefits as well.
Normal vaginal secretions and discharge can result from some health conditions. Therefore, it is important to keep the vaginal and anal area clean. This is in addition to the skin in between, especially if there is an unusual discharge. Because, good hygiene can prevent infection and an unpleasant odor.
Additionally, using a sitz bath can help prevent infection. Adding a sitz bath with any prescribed medications can also help to relieve the symptoms of an infection.
Sometimes a discharge occurs because of a problem with the Bartholin’s glands. These are pea-sized glands. They produce fluid to lubricate the genitals during sexual activity. Although they are not usually noticeable and cannot be felt, a noncancerous growth can develop in these glands.
The glands can become enlarged and painful, and an infection can occur. A sitz bath can relieve the symptoms of this condition and also of Bartholin’s cysts that may develop in the area.
Besides, if you are experiencing discomfort or an unusual discharge in the anogenital area consult your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed to ask about problems around the genital area or the anus.
Precautions To Take While Taking A Sitz Bath After Delivery
Here are some precautions that you must take before taking sitz bath post delivery.
- Avoid adding shower gels or soaps to the water.
- Water should not be too hot. Lukewarm water is ideal. Test the water temperature before getting into the tub.
- Thoroughly cleanse your foot before you get into the tub.
- If you had a natural delivery, then wait for at least 24 hours before trying the sitz bath. You can take two to three sitz baths every day or as advised by your doctor.
- Ensure that the tub is thoroughly cleaned to reduce any chances of infection, in the case of surgical wounds in the perineum.
- Ask your doctor about the dosage of medicines or herbs that you will be using for the sitz bath.
- If there is any persistent pain or irritation in the perineum after using the sitz bath, then consult the doctor.
- Clean the sitz bath basin or bathtub thoroughly before and after the use.