What Is a Sitz Bath?
A sitz bath is when you sit in warm water to cleanse or ease pain around your bottom or private parts.
The word sitz comes from the German word “sitzen,” which means “to sit.”
Benefits of a Sitz Bath
Soaking in water at a mild temperature can speed up the healing process by boosting blood flow. It won't cure your condition, but it will soothe irritation.
A sitz bath is typically used as a home treatment for the following:
- An anal fissure, or small tear in the skin lining the opening of the anus
- Constipation or diarrhea
- A condition that affects the prostate gland called prostatitis
- After a vaginal delivery
- After surgery on your anus or vaginal area
- A Bartholin cyst, which forms on the outside of your vagina
A sitz bath can offer relief from soreness, itching, burning, and inflammation, but you may need other treatments as well.
A pediatrician may suggest a sitz bath for a child with uncomfortable bowel movements, a skin reaction, or an injury in the genital area.
Sitz Bath Instructions
There are a couple of ways to take a sitz bath. You can take one in your bathtub, or you can buy a basin that lets you take one while sitting on the toilet. Some basins come in kits that help keep the water at a steady temperature.
Whichever type you use, the water should be lukewarm and comfortable to the touch. You'll soak up to three times a day for 10 to 20 minutes. Depending on your condition, a doctor may suggest more.
Sitz bath in the bathtub
If you’re making a sitz bath in your tub:
- Fill the bathtub with about 3 to 4 inches of warm water.
- Soak in the tub for up to 20 minutes, making sure your private area is covered with water, and adding more water as needed to keep it warm.
- Don't add shower gel, bubble bath, or any type of soap.
- Don't scrub or rub the area.
Afterward, gently pat yourself dry using a soft towel. You can also dry off by using a hair dryer on a cool or low, warm setting. Then clean the tub and wash your hands.
Sitz bath kit
Drugstores and online merchants sell sitz bath kits that include a plastic bag with a tube attached, which dispenses water into the basin. To use one:
- Clean the basin well.
- Fill the plastic bag with warm water.
- Put the basin on the toilet bowl, then put down the seat.
- Sit in the basin, then use the tube to fill it with enough water to cover the area.
- As the water cools down, add more from the bag.
- When you're finished, clean and dry the basin and wash your hands.
If you’re using a basin that doesn't include a water supply, simply pour warm water into it before you sit on the toilet.
Sitz Bath Complications
Sitz baths are generally safe, with little risk of complications. Scrubbing the anal or perineal area (the space between your bottom and your genitals) during a sitz bath could irritate it. Adding bath salts, bubble bath, or soap to your sitz bath might lead to minor inflammation.
It's rare, but there's a chance that you could get an infection in your perineal area after taking a sitz bath. This might happen if you've recently had surgery, if you take a sitz bath in a dirty tub or basin, or if someone else also uses your sitz bath basin. If you notice redness or swelling, call your doctor right away and stop taking sitz baths.