A sitz bath (also called a hip bath) is a type of bath in which only the hips and buttocks are soaked in water or saline solution. Its name comes from the German verb “sitzen,” meaning “to sit.”
As a form of hydrotherapy-the use of hot and cold water, steam, and ice to restore and maintain health-the sitz bath increases blood flow to the pelvic and abdominal areas, and thus can help reduce inflammation and otherwise alleviate a variety of problems. Sitz baths can use hot or cold water only, or can alternate heat and cold. Hot sitz baths are particularly helpful for such disorders as hemorrhoids, muscular disorders, painful ovaries and testicles, prostate problems, and uterine cramps. Cold sitz baths are helpful in the treatment of constipation, impotence, inflammation, muscle disorders, and vaginal discharge. Alternating hot and cold sitz baths can help relieve abdominal disorders, blood poisoning, congestion, foot infection, headaches, muscle disorders, neuralgia, and swollen ankles.
Procedure of sitz bath
To prepare a sitz bath, fill a tub or basin so that the water covers the hips and reaches the middle of the abdomen. If possible, place the water in a basin that will allow you to immerse just the pelvic and abdominal regions. In this case, you can fill another basin with water that is a few degrees warmer, and immerse your feet in it while sitting in the sitz bath. If no suitable basins are available, place the sitz bath water in a bathtub. You may wish to cover your body with a sheet or blanket to increase your comfort.
As discussed above, the temperature of the water should vary according to the type of illness you are treating. When using a hot sitz bath, the bathtub or basin should be filled with water of about 110°F. (Make sure that the temperature of the water does not exceed 120°F.) You might want to make the water 90°F to 100 °F at the beginning of the bath and then gradually increase the temperature to 110°F. As already mentioned, your feet can be immersed in slightly hotter water. You might wish also to apply a cold compress to your forehead, as the compress will make it easier for you to withstand the heat of the bath. (Make sure that the sitz bath, foot bath, and cold compress are all prepared ahead of time.) Stay in the bath for twenty to forty minutes. After the moist heat of the bath has soothed the area being treated, you can further stimulate the body by taking a quick cold shower or simply splashing your body with cool water: Then towel yourself dry.
When using a cold sitz bath, fill the bathtub or basin with ice water. Stay in the cold bath for thirty to sixty seconds only. By no means should you stay in the water for. more than sixty seconds, as this added time will provide no additional benefits, and may even be harmful. Then towel yourself dry.
When using alternating hot and cold baths, fill one basin with water of about 110°F, and a second basin with ice water. Immerse yourself first in the hot sitz bath, and remain there for three to four minutes. Then move to the cold sitz bath, and remain there for thirty to sixty seconds. Repeat this two to four times, and towel yourself dry.
A word of caution: If you have any health related problems or conditions, be sure to consult with your health care provider before using any type of sitz bath.