How to Take a Sitz Bath

7 Easy Steps to Start Healing

A sitz bath is a warm, therapeutic bath used to heal and cleanse the area around the perineum (the space between the genitals and anus). It can be done in a bathtub or in a shallow basin that fits snugly over a toilet seat.

The sitz bath is an effective at-home treatment for conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, prostatitis, genital herpes, and chronic constipation. It can also be used after childbirth to help heal tears from a vaginal delivery or for any surgery in the area.

Pediatricians often recommend a sitz bath for children who have uncomfortable bowel movements or who have a rash or chafing in the perineal area.

Soaking in water warm water can help speed up the healing process. It boosts the blood flow to the affected area. It won't cure any condition, but it can help soothe the irritation. With a sitz bath, you can also gently clean any area too painful to touch.

This article provides detailed instructions for preparing a relaxing, healing sitz bath at home.

1

Choose a Sitz Bath

Yungatart Sitz Bath

Amazon

You can buy sitz baths online or at most drug or medical supply stores. The plastic device rests on top of your toilet seat. It will have a cutout so that any water that overflows can spill into the toilet.

When purchased as a kit, the sitz bath sometimes includes a plastic bag with a tube on the end. You can use the bag to spritz water on the sore area. More expensive types will include a long hose that you can attach to a faucet for easy filling.

A simpler option is to use your bathtub. Fill the tub with 3 to 4 inches of warm water and slowly lower yourself in. Make sure the temperature is warm but not scalding.

2

Choose Additives That May Help

Bowl of Epsom salts, scoop of sea salt, and small bowl of olive oil on tile surface
Ruth Jenkinson / Getty Images

While warm water alone may be enough to aid healing, some people add other ingredients to help with itching and swelling. Some common add-ins include:

  • Epsom salt
  • Sea salt (non-iodized)
  • Witch hazel
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda

Each of these home remedies can help limit bacterial growth to reduce the risk of infection.

Some people add olive oil, essential oils, herbs, and aromatherapy fragrances. It's a good idea to avoid anything that isn't intended for use on skin, though. These additives may make your symptoms worse. They could even dry out skin that's already chafed.

You should not add shower gel, bubble bath, or any type of soap as these can also dry out damaged skin.

3

Prepare Your Bathroom

bathroom towels

iStockphoto / Getty Images

Before filling the sitz bath, prepare the bathroom so you can take your time, relax, and focus on treating yourself. Since you may be in the bathroom for some time, you may want music, aromatherapy candles, reading materials, or a game to play on your phone.

Make the room temperature as comfortable as possible. Once the room is ready, place towels nearby to dry yourself or mop up any spills.

Finally, let everyone in the house know you need to be alone for a while. A sitz bath isn't something to rush.

4

Fill the Sitz Bath With Warm Water

woman running hands under faucet

Hill Creek Pictures / UpperCut Images / Getty Images

Let the water from the faucet run until it is quite warm. You want it to feel warm enough to get the blood flowing but not so hot that it makes your skin red. A good test is to let the water run over your wrist. The skin there is thin and very sensitive.

One the temperature is right, fill the tub or basin and swirl in any added ingredients. If you're using a portable basin, do not overfill it as you still need to carry it to the toilet bowl.

Once in place, top the basin up with a couple of glasses of warm water. Some people use a thermos bottle if the bathroom sink is far away. This saves you from having to get up if the temperature is not right or needs warming up.

5

Sit Comfortably

How to Take a Sitz Bath

vadimguzhva / Getty Images

If using a portable sitz bath, lower yourself onto the seat. Don't worry about overflowing. Any extra water should spill through the cut-out into the toilet.

If using a tub, bend your knees when you sit to take some of the pressure off the perineal area. Or you could try propping your feet on the edge of ​the tub and leaning back comfortably.

If the water temperature isn't quite right, you can adjust it. Once the temperature is to your liking, relax. Plan to be there for around 15 to 20 minutes. If necessary, add more hot water to keep the water warm enough.

6

Dry Off

Woman pouring medicated cream into hand, close-up

RunPhoto / Getty Images

After 15-20 minutes, get up slowly. You may feel lightheaded after resting in warm water for such a long time. This is not unusual, even for the portable bath.

Ideally, let the area air dry. If this is not possible, pat gently with a clean cotton towel. If the area you're treating has open sores or is extra painful, it may be better to blot dry with a thin handkerchief instead of a nubbly towel.

If you are using a medicated ointment to soothe hemorrhoids, a rash, or an anal fissure, this is a good time to apply it. Moisturizing is probably not necessary and may not be a good idea if you have an infection.

7

Clean Up

Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water when you are finished. If you're using a portable bath, wash it in hot water with a mild detergent. Most sitz baths shouldn't be placed in a dishwasher.

Summary

A sitz bath may help you care for conditions that affect your anal or genital areas. First, choose your method: the bathtub or a portable basin that sits atop a toilet seat. Then select any extras you want to add. You'll want to be careful about products that could irritate sore skin.

Next, ready the room so you can relax for around 15-20 minutes. Fill the bath with warm water and ease yourself in. When you're done, use care getting up. If you can, let the area air dry. If you dry off with a towel, gentle blotting may help before you apply any medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the ideal temperature for a sitz bath?

    The temperature of a sitz bath should be warm and comfortable. For most people, that's somewhere between 99 degrees and 102 degrees.

  • How many sitz baths should someone take in a day?

    It is safe and effective to use a sitz bath either after every bowel movement or a few times per day as need for relief.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. Hemorrhoids and what to do about them.

  2. University Health Network. Having a sitz bath at home.

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Hemorrhoids and what to do about them.

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