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A sitz bath is a warm, soothing, therapeutic bath that is used to cleanse and heal the perineum (the area between your anus and the vulva or scrotum). Sitz comes from the German word 'sitzen', meaning to sit. A sitz bath is done by sitting in a pool full of warm water with your hips and perineal area submerged. It can be done in a bathtub or in a round, shallow plastic sitz bath kit that is placed properly on a toilet seat.
A sitz bath is usually done to bring relief from pain and itching in the genital area caused by conditions such as haemorrhoids, anal fissures, genital herpes and prostatitis. Sitz bath is also used after vaginal delivery to heal tears and bring relief from pain     .
Soaking yourself in warm water can help speed up the healing process by increasing blood flow to the affected area, cleansing and soothing the skin and reducing the chances of infection. Sitz bath will not cure the condition, but it will soothe the genital area and provide relief from pain and irritation.
When Is A Sitz Bath Used?
A sitz bath is used as a home treatment for the following reasons:
• You've had recent surgery in the anogenital area.
• You are having discomfort from bowel movements such as diarrhoea or constipation.
• You are having discomfort from haemorrhoids.
• You recently had your haemorrhoids surgically removed.
• You recently had a vaginal delivery.
Both children and adults can use sitz baths. A paediatrician may suggest a sitz bath for children if they are experiencing uncomfortable bowel movements, have a rash or chafing in the genital area.
How To Take A Sitz Bath?
There are two ways to take a sitz bath - a bathtub and a plastic kit that fits onto your toilet. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to take a sitz bath:
How to take a sitz bath in your bathtub
• Ensure that the bathtub is clean before using it.
• Fill the bathtub with 5 inches of lukewarm water.
• Now, step into the bathtub; sit and soak your perineum for 10 to 15 minutes. You can bend your knees and sit or lean backwards in the tub and dangle your legs over the sides of the tub so that the water can reach the perineal area.
• When done get out of the bathtub and gently pat dry the perineal area with a clean cotton towel. Do not rub while drying the area as it may cause pain and irritation.
• Wear cotton underwear or oversized boxer shorts for the air to circulate in the perineal area.
• Wash the bathtub thoroughly after every use.
How to take a plastic sitz bath on the toilet
• Rinse the plastic sitz bath before using it.
• Lift the toilet seat and place the plastic sitz bath on the toilet. Check and see if it's fitting properly.
• Now, fill the plastic sitz bath with two-thirds of warm water.
• Carefully sit down in the plastic sitz bath and soak your perineal area for 10 to 15 minutes.
• After you are done, pat dry the area with a clean towel.
• Clean the plastic sitz bath thoroughly every time you use it.
Risk Factors Of Sitz Baths
Taking a sitz bath did not cause any serious adverse effects in patients, according to some noted studies  . However, if you notice heavy bleeding or bad smelling fluid from the perineal area, swelling or redness in the area or having a fever, you should consult your doctor immediately as these could be signs of an infection.
Image ref: mamanatural
How Often Should You Take A Sitz Bath?
How often you take a sitz bath depends on what reason you are using it for. As a general guide, taking a sitz bath four times a day is fine to soothe the area; however, your doctor will recommend you how many times a day is best for you.