The term "sitz bath" can refer either to a bath in which only a person's pelvic area typically is immersed in the water or to a type of tub that makes it easier to take this type of bath. It is possible for a person to take a sitz bath in a regular bathtub, but his or her feet either need to be kept over the side of the tub or put in the water with the knees kept bent. This might not be quite as hygienic as a sitz bath that is taken in a sitz bathtub. Warm or cool water can be used and might contain additives such as baking soda or salt. This type of bath typically lasts 10-20 minutes.
The word "sitz" derives from the German word sitzen, which means "to sit." This is an apt term for describing this type of bath, in which the person merely sits in the water. This treatment of localized bathing, sometimes with baking soda, salt or vinegar added to the water, is often prescribed for someone who has hemorrhoids or anal fistulae; who has undergone a recent episiotomy, which is the cutting and suturing of the perineum done when a woman has a baby; or for a woman who is suffering from menstrual cramps. A sitz bath also might reduce discomfort that is caused by inflammation of the prostate gland.
Types of Tubs
The ease of taking the bath will vary depending on the type of bathtub that is being used. Some tubs for sitz baths are made to fit over toilets and have a drains so that any additional water will not leak when their users sit down. Others fit on top of chair or might even be chair with sitz bathtubs built into them. Patients also can simply use any large tubs, such as dish tubs, but the tubs should be large enough to accommodate their users.
Safety and Cleanliness
Cleanliness is important when a person uses a sitz bath of any type. The basin or tub should be thoroughly cleaned after each use. If someone plans to use a dish tub, it should be purchased new and should be used only for sitz baths. Cleaning and disinfecting the tubs between uses can help ensure that future sitz baths will not promote infection. For safety reasons, some patients might want to have other people help him take sitz baths, because some people have noted dizziness when standing up after sitting in the bath for 10 minutes or longer.
The price of a sitz bath can vary, but basic models usually are inexpensive. More complicated baths, including those that have drains or that provide constant flows of water, can be far more expensive. Even the least expensive sitz bath generally is considered likely to promote greater comfort when used with care and cleanliness.