A sitz bath is one of the best ways to relax and heal yourself. It is a warm, shallow bath that aims to cleanses the perineum, which is the space between the vulva or scrotum and rectum.
A sitz bath is enough to provide you with swift relief from itching or pain in the genital area. The term “sitz bath” is derived from the German word for “seat.”
While you can do a DIY sitz bath, it usually comes in the form of a plastic kit that can easily be fitted into a standard toilet. It is generally made up of a plastic bag that is attached to a tiny long tube that leads to a shallow plastic bowl.
The bag is filled with hot or warm water that will be used to fill the plastic basin. For convenience sake, the bowl is made to be larger than the toilet seat.
To use a sitz bath, make sure that it is half-filled with hot or warm water at a temperature that is comfortable. The user can decide to add some extra water without necessarily having to stand up as the water gets cools.
You get the extra water from the tube that is fed by the hot water plastic bag. The hot water bag is placed up, and when you add hot water, it creates a whirlpool effect.
The vent attached to it allows excess water to flow out into the toilet below.
When should you use a sitz bath?
A sitz bath can be used anytime and by anyone without a doctor’s prescription. Some people have been using sitz baths frequently as a way to have the perineum cleanse.
In addition to using a Sitz bath for cleansing, the warm water helps to increase blood flow to the perineal area.
A sitz bath can also help to relieve the following:
- Minor pain
Common reasons why you may want to consider owning and using a sitz bath include the following:
- Recently putting to bed
- Recently having surgery on the vulva or vagina
- Recently surgically removing hemorrhoids
- Having discomfort as a result of hemorrhoids
- Having problems with bowel movements
Both adults and children can safely use a sitz bath. However, it is essential that parents always supervise their kids during a sitz bath.
Doctors may prescribe medications or other antibiotic additives to put in your sitz bath. An example of an additive is povidone-iodine, which has have antibacterial properties.
People may also add vinegar, table salt, or baking soda to the Sitz water can also help to create a soothing solution. However, you may only take a sitz bath, making use of only warm water.
Taking a sitz bath in your bathtub
If you are taking a sitz bath in a bathtub, the very first step you need to take is to clean the tub.
There are usually cleaning instructions that are easy to follow on the pack of your Sitz bath. But if not, clean the tub by mixing two tablespoons full of bleach with 1/2 a gallon of water. Thoroughly scrub and rinse the bathtub thoroughly.
Next, proceed to fill the bathtub with up to 3 or 4 inches of water. The water should must be warm, but not too hot that it causes any burns or discomfort.
It is easy for you to test the temperature of the water in your tub by placing one or two drops on your wrist. When you have found a comfortable temperature, you can ass any substance that your doctor recommends to the bath.
Now, you can step into the tub and have your perineum soaked for about 15 to 20 minutes. If possible, bend your knees or dangle your legs over the two sides of the tub so that they are out of the water altogether.
When you finally get out of the bathtub, you can pat yourself dry gently with a clean cotton towel. Do not make any attempts to rub or scrub your perineum, as this may lead to irritation and pain.
Finish off by thoroughly rinsing the bathtub.
Taking a sitz bath with the kit
A plastic sitz bath kit will fit over a toilet. Carefully rinse the bath kit using clean water before making use of it. Then, pour in very warm — but not too hot — water together with any solutions or medications that are recommended by your doctor. Place the sitz bath into an open toilet.
Test to find out if it is balanced by trying to move it from one side to another to ensure that it stays in place without shifting.
You can choose to pour in some warm water before you sit down, or opt for the plastic bag and tubing as a way of filling the tub with water after you have sat down. The water needs to be deep enough so that it can cover your perineum.
Soak for between 15 to 20 minutes. If you decide to use the plastic bag, you can pour some warm water as the initial water cools. Most stores bought sitz baths come with a vent that stops water from overflowing. This makes the water to overflows into the toilet conveniently and can be flushed.
When you are finished, get up and use a clean cotton towel to pat the area dry. Do well not to rub or scrub the area when you pay dry. Get the sitz bath set for its next use by carefully cleaning it.
Although there are no specific guidelines for when you should replace a sitz bath, it is essential to always check it for weakened areas or any signs of cracking before and after use.
Benefits of Sitz bath for women
The vaginal opening, surrounded by the labia, lets out normal secretions and discharge that results from some health conditions.
It is essential to keep the anal area and vaginal area clean, as well as the area of skin in between, especially if you have been noticing an unusual discharge. Good hygiene can go a long way to prevent infection and any unpleasant odor.
Using a sitz bath can go a long way to help with preventing infections, and can be used with any prescribed medications. If you have any symptoms of infection, it can also help with relieving symptoms of an infection.
Sometimes you may suffer a discharge because of an issue with the Bartholin’s glands.
These pea-sized glands produce fluid to lubricate the genitals during sexual activity. They are not usually noticeable and cannot be felt, but sometimes a noncancerous growth can develop in these glands.
The glands can quickly become enlarged and also painful, and that will lead to an infection. A sitz bath can help to relieve the symptoms of this painful condition and also prevent cysts that may form in the area.
However, the principal use of a sitz bath for females is to promote healing and comfort after childbirth.
Risk factors of Sitz bath and aftercare
A sitz bath is generally safe for use as it carries very minimal risk of harm due to the fact that it is a noninvasive treatment. The most popular adverse event that is associated with the use of sitz baths is an infection of the perineum, but it rarely occurs.
This can only happen if you are caring for a surgical wound , and you do not clean the plastic bath or tub thoroughly.
If you notice that the itching or pains get worse, make sure to stop using sitz baths and visit your doctor. Also, contact a doctor if your perineum gets red and puffy.
If you find that Sitz baths bring you relief, you may have to take as many as three or four per day until you are healed from the source of the irritation, itching, or pain.
After you have had a sitz bath, you may freely return to normal activities almost Immediately unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
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- Administering a sitz bath [Fact sheet]. (n.d.)
- Omole, F., Simmons, B. J., & Hacker, Y. (2003, July 1). Management of Bartholin’s duct cyst and gland abscess. American Family Physician, 68(1), 135-140