How to Use a Sitz Bath

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A sitz bath is a plastic tub that fits over the toilet and can be filled with water. Sitz bath also refers to the act of using this plastic device (or something similar). Sitting in the warm water for 15 to 20 minutes can provide relief from the discomfort from hemorrhoids, fistulas, anal fissures, or an episiotomy. This can be done by sitting in a bathtub filled with a few inches of water, but using a plastic sitz bath that fits over the toilet is often more convenient. ​There's no medications involved in this treatment and it can be used multiple times a day.​

The sitz bath device is so named after the German word "sitzen," which means "to sit." The idea of sitting in a shallow bath of warm water might also be called a "hip bath" because the water might only come up to one's hip.

How to Use a Sitz Bath

  1. A sitz bath can be purchased at many drug store chains for about $10. You may also find them at hospital pharmacies or medical supply stores. If you will need a sitz bath after surgery or having a baby, ask the staff in the hospital if they can provide you with one before you go home. Taking one home from the hospital might be the quickest way to get one, and you also might not have to pay for it out of pocket.
  2. Prepare the items you will need so they are near at hand from where you will be using the sitz bath (usually in the bathroom next to the toilet).
  3. Place the sitz bath over the toilet, ensuring that it fits well and will not shift.
  4. Fill the sitz bath with warm water. Remember that the water temperature will feel cooler to your hands than it will to the rest of the body. You may need to experiment to determine the right temperature. Remember that the longer the water sits, the cooler it will get, so water should be warm enough that it doesn't become uncomfortably cold in 10 or 15 minutes.
  5. Some sitz baths come with a solution bag and a tube. The bag can be used by filling with water and hanging from a hook (in the hospital, typically an IV pole is used) that is higher than the toilet. A tube will run from the bag into the sitz bath to provide a continuous flow of water. Use the clamp provided to stop the water from going through the tube.
  6. Many sitz baths are designed with a vent in the top to prevent overfilling. The water will not overflow when you sit it in, but rather will empty out of the plastic tub and into the toilet bowl. If you are using a solution bag with your sitz bath, the water will run continuously from the bag, out through the vents, and into the toilet. If your sitz bath does not have a vent, be careful not to overfill it, or you can make a small hole under the lip of the bath to create a vent.
  7. If your doctor has recommended it, add salt to the water. Sitz baths are normally done with plain water but a doctor may advise putting something in the water depending on the reason for using the sitz bath. 
  8. Sit in the sitz bath for 10-20 minutes, or as recommended by your doctor. Relax: read a magazine or a book.
  9. When finished, use a clean towel to gently pat the affected area dry.
  10. Use your sitz bath as often as recommended by your doctor, which is generally several times a day as needed to ease discomfort. This is one remedy that can be used fairly often, although in order for your skin to heal, you do need to take breaks and let your skin dry.
  11. Wash your sitz bath after each use and dry it thoroughly. Be careful to clean it well to ensure that no bacteria are taking up residence in your sitz bath. Rinsing after using any cleaners is also important so that the skin doesn't get exposed to anything harmful.
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