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.
How to Take a Sitz Bath
A special sitz bath seat will need to be acquired to perform this treatment. 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.
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.
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.