Your bottom area is highly innervated; pains around this area can be agonizing and heightened. Personally, I’ve experienced the wonder of a sitz bath. It brought a soothing relief, the best part? It’s cheap and safe.
During my second year in college, I had this excruciating experience. It was a ‘pile’ aka ‘haemorrhoid’, a real “pain in the ass”. It started like constipation, then, diarrhoea. Later on tissues and veins surrounding my anus became inflamed and swollen. The pain was so much I couldn’t walk. The size of piles can vary, mine was really big, and walking erect was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Activities of daily living were difficult. Although, all these went on inside the anus, lola pile can occur outside too.
Just like an average Nigerian student I was broke!. I mean, this pile thing even affected my pocket. Still, I needed to do something fast as my exams were fast approaching. So I tried all kinds of pain relievers including NSAIDs. Nothing seemed to work. Suppositories and tramadol, those would only proffer temporary relief. I was practically out of options, getting sick during your exams can be your worst nightmare.
A senior colleague suggested sitz bath, over the phone. First, I felt embarrassed, even though I knew it was a therapeutic bath done by dipping your butt in the tepid water of about 34.4 to 36.6(94 – 98 degrees Fahrenheit). I thought it was for women only, the rationale behind its efficacy never occurred to me. Usually, the procedure is cleansing, yet, the primary purpose medical practitioners recommend it is to speedily heal those micro-tears around the bottom area after vaginal birth.
As a student nurse, that was how I learned through experience. You too can try it.
According to Markus MacGill this inexpensive at-home treatment can reduce inflammation, improve hygiene and promote blood flow to your bottom area. There are many ways to do it. So you don’t have to worry about cost. The cheapest way is using a clean bowl placed on your toilet seat. Better still, if you have a bathtub, that’ll be fun too. But for convenience’s sake you can get a ready-made round and shallow washbasin designed just for that purpose. The ready-made kit can fit into your regular toilet seat.
Having sitz bath might be common with women, who sustained vaginal lacerations during childbirth, but, as a man who is stricken by that ‘’pain in the ass’’ called hemorrhoid, chances are, you’ve been asked by your doctor or nurse to take a sitz bath. Well, if you’re wondering why you have to dip yourself in that bowl, today’s post promises to provide you all the information you need about performing a hygienic sitz bath, why you have to do it, ingredients, kits required and the correct procedure to get rid of that pain and awkwardness around your butt.
Your case may not be that of personal hygiene, however, It could be necessary if you recently had a vaginal birth if during the process, you sustained a tear or lacerations on your perineum. Allowing your wound to heal naturally may not be a challenge per se, but the rationale behind the sitz bath stems from the fact that it promotes blood flow which transfers healing materials around the wound area.
This can significantly reduce your recovery time in cases of a generous episiotomy, lacerations meted on your perineum, around your bum during the second stage of labor. Unarguably, you can benefit from speedy healing of wounds around this area.
Common uses of the sitz bath include but not limited to:
- Keeping the anus and the perineal area clean.
- Relieve excruciating discomfort due to hemorrhoids (piles).
- Anal fissures -calms that irritating tear in the thin, moist tissue (mucosa) that lines the anus.
- Perianal fistulas – soothe a chronic discharge coming from the sinus tracts in your anal region and surrounding skin.
- Rectal surgery – reduce pain due to colorectal surgery. often done to correct disorders of the rectum, anus, and colon.
- An episiotomy – relieve discomfort due to surgical incision of the perineum and the posterior vaginal wall generally done by a midwife or obstetrician during the second stage of labor.
- To calm irritation due to uterine cramps, inflammatory bowel disease, pilonidal cysts and infections of the bladder, prostate or vagina.
- Prostatitis – improve healing due to inflammation of the prostate gland which is a walnut-sized gland just below the bladder in men.
- Genital herpes – sometimes sex is not all fun, sitz bath can be used to treat STD symptoms due to sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes (which causes herpetic sores, these are painful blisters (fluid-filled bumps).
Chronic constipation – sitz baths can help during constipation, this occurs because increase perfusion to your bum area can have a relaxing effect on your anal sphincter which trigger a reflex that eventually releases the stool.
ARE SITZ BATHS SAFE?
According to Carolyn Kay, MD of healthline.com, sitz baths are safe and can be used anytime. It can even be part of your regular personal hygiene routine. However, you are always advised to undertake the procedure under a tolerable temperature which is usually between 34.4 and 36.6 degrees Celsius (94 – 98 degree Fahrenheit). This is to prevent burns to your perineal area. Especially, as a woman in your first trimester, be mindful of the temperature in which the procedure is done.
Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD upheld that ‘If your body temperature goes above 38.9 °C (102 °F) for more than 10 minutes, the elevated heat can cause problems with the fetus’. Overheating in the first trimester can lead to neural tube defects and miscarriage.’
Nonetheless, Shirah BH et al. concluded a research comparing sitz bath and anorectal cream in conservative management of hemorrhoids during pregnancy. They resolved that the sitz bath when done correctly is safer and even more effective than anorectal cream. Therefore, it’s safe to say you can use this refreshing procedure to get rid of the awkwardness down there..
WHAT DO YOU PUT IN A SITZ BATH?
To know the constituent of your sitz bath, you need to know the reason ‘why’ you are doing it. Once that is settled, the basic requirements are:
- Tepid water
- sits bath kits, basin or bathtop
Other ingredients (follow your doctor or nurse prescription)
- 12 calendulas.
- 12 teaspon chamomile.
- 12 teaspon of witch hazel.
- 12 teaspoons of yarrow.
- 2 cups plantain leaf extract.
- 3-5 drops lavender essential oil.
- 1 cup sea salt (unprocessed) or Epsom salt. (optional)
- 1 handful of table salt
- 12 teaspoons of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) (optional)
HOW DO YOU MAKE A SITZ BATH?
There are various methods of doing sitz bath. Perhaps there is a risk for contracting an infection from unsanitary practices. Here are a few tips you should follow to the later.
Sitz bath in a tub:
- Clean you bath with bleach water (1 cup of bleach to 6 cups of water).
- Fill your bathtub up to 8 or 10 cm of warm water (sometimes cold water can be used).
- Add your desired or prescribed medicine to the water.
- Check the temperature of the mixture.
- Calmly lower your butt into the bathtub and sit on the bottom of it.
- Hold on to a support if necessary
- Ensure the area that needs treating is under the water.
- Seek for help from a family member, caregiver, friend, or spouse if needed.
- Often change position- like bending your knees. This would expose the perineal area that needs to be intact with the water.
Note: If lacerations and micro tears on the skin are still fresh, you’ll feel pains and initial irritation as your body makes contact with whatever solutions you’re using for the sitz bath. But don’t worry this would go away and all the awkwardness would stop.
Using a sitz bath bowl
Perhaps the most used method is using a sitz bath bowl. It’s very special, made from a plastic container. This beauty doesn’t only have the good looks; it revolutionizes taking a sitz bath. It fits comfortably on your toilet seat, so, you can be rest assured your 10 – 20 minutes would be a rewarding experience. You can get a good deal in many drugstores, medical supply stores or online stores.
Here is a step by step guide to take a sitz bath this way:
- Clean your toilet and sitz bath kits with bleach water (1:6).
- Lift up your toilet lid with the seat. Carefully place the clean plastic sitz bath bowl on the brim of your toilet.
- Check through and ensure the bowl fits firmly and won’t be wobbling around.
- Using a water jug or a clean cup fill the sitz bath bowl with warm water.
- Ensure the water is enough to cover your perineum.
- Check the temperature of the solution and ensure the water temperature is comfy.
- Make a solution of salt or any other additives as prescribed by your Nurse or physician.
- If you are using a ready to use solution make sure to follow the manufacturer’s information to the later.
- Gently, sit down on the sitz bath bowl. Hold on to a railing. Or ask for help from a family member, friend, or caregiver if needed.
Note: Some kits have a plastic bag and tubing. This allows you stream water into the main bowl and around the area where you need the treatment.
If you have a wound, the water may cause pain at first, but the pain should ease. Make sure the area that needs treating is under the water.
For any type of sitz bath or according to prescription:
- Sit in the bath water for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Exchange warm water as needed to keep the water comfortable.
- Get up from the toilet slowly, you may feel lightheaded or dizzy due to changes in blood pressure and posture. Hold on to a railing for balance. Or seek assistance from a significant figure.
- Dab your body gently and dry your genitals with a clean towel. Ensure not to rub the area. Rubbing may promote bruising.
- Ensure hand hygiene after the bath, gently rub on ointment or cream as instructed.
- Keep your, basin, bathtub or sitz bath bowl with soap and water after each use.
- Note: use a sitz bath 2 to 3 times a day, or as often as your healthcare provider advises.
DISCLAIMER! MEDICAL INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL CARE.