Are you suffering from hemorrhoids or anal fissures? Have you recently given birth? Or are you looking for options to relieve period cramps? Chances are, every other person you mention your symptoms to will ask you to take a sitz bath.
So, what exactly is a sitz bath? Sitz comes from the German word sitzen, which means to sit. And bath? Well, you know what a bath is. A sitz bath is a kind of half bath that is taken while sitting in hot (to the point of being slightly uncomfortable) water. It helps soothe pain and other symptoms in the anal and genital areas. You can add Epsom and regular salts to your sitz bath.
Sitz baths are helpful for both children and adults. In case of bathing a child, parents should, of course, carefully supervise from the start till the end.
When Do You Need a Sitz Bath?
If you are suffering from pain in the anal, genital, and perineum area, a sitz bath can help bring relief. It does so by increasing the blood supply and relaxing the muscles.
Sitz baths will help if you:
- Need relief from pain and itching from anal fissures or hemorrhoids
- Want to soothe the incision around the perineum after childbirth or surgery
- Have painful period cramps
- Suffer discomfort during bowel movements
Types of Sitz Baths
You can have a sitz bath following any of the two ways:
- Bathing in a bathtub
- Using a drug store sitz bath bowl
You can choose whatever option is easily available. Sitz bath bowls are available online and can also be bought from most drug stores. It is shaped like a flat bowl with just enough water to bathe the anal/perineum area.
It rests on top of your toilet seat and has holes on the sides so that any overflows can spill directly into the toilet.
A Store-bought kit comes with a plastic bag and an attached tube. This bag helps spritz water on the inflamed area. It can also be used to keep the water at a comfortably warm temperature when it cools down during the bath.
After selecting the sitz bath, you can follow these steps for a soothing experience:
1. Fill With Warm Water
Fill the tub with warm water. Do not overfill. The temperature should be just below unbearably hot. This way, it will stay warm for the duration of your bath. If you’re planning to mix some Epsom salt in it, the warmer the water temperature, the easier it will be to dissolve.
2. Add Therapeutic Ingredients
These could range from your regular salt to Epsom salt and witch hazel. Your doctor may have prescribed some medicine to add to the bath. Make sure whatever you add is fully dissolved in the water before stepping in. You should not add vinegar-based solutions if you have cracked skin or abrasions.
3. Soak and Relax
Step into the bath and sit for 10 or 15 minutes. If you have an injury or a wound, the water might sting initially, but it should ease within a minute. Be careful to fully soak the area requiring treatment under the water. This is your me-time! Relax, unwind, meditate, read a book, or just listen to music. If the water cools down, you can add more warm water to the bath to keep it at a comfortable temperature.
4. Pat Yourself Dry
When finished, carefully step out of the tub and wrap a clean towel around. Remember to pat yourself dry. The skin around your perineum might be sensitive to touch. In that case, you can let it air-dry or use a blow dryer set on the coolest setting.
Your skin just lost a few oils after being soaked for 10 to 15 minutes. Hence, it is important to replenish that moisture by applying a cream or lotion after every bath. You can also dab some witch hazel or petroleum jelly onto the inflamed area.
6. Clean the Sitz Bath
Let the tub drain after you are done with the bath. If you used a sitz bath, scrub all parts thoroughly using soap and warm water. Let it air-dry.
7. Wash your hands
Lather your palms, wrists, back of the hands, etc., with a soap to remove the residue. Rinse with water and air or towel dry. Apply a good hand cream to lock in the moisturizer.
If you experience relief after taking sitz baths, you may take two to three per day until the itching, irritation, or pain is healed. After the bath, you may continue engaging in your daily activities as usual.
Side Effects of Sitz Bath
Owing to it being a non invasive treatment, a sitz bath carries little to no risk of harm. The only thing to look out for is a clean bathtub; using a dirty one may cause perennial infection. If the pain or itching worsens, you should immedietly stop using sitz baths and consult your doctor.
Excessive sitz baths can cause skin dryness and may result in slowing the healing of cuts, fissures, and abrasions. Moderation is the key!
Have you taken a sitz bath before? Did it help to overcome the above-mentioned ailments? Let us know what you add to your sitz baths in the comments below!