How to Use a Sitz Bath

Robert Burakoff, MD, MPH, is board-certified in gastroentrology. He is the vice chair for ambulatory services for the department of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he is also a professor. He was the founding editor and co-editor in chief of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

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A sitz bath (derived from the German word sitzen, meaning "to sit") is a plastic tub filled with water used to treat conditions affecting the anorectal area (the area around the anus and rectum). The tub fits over the toilet so that you can sit in a pool of warm water for 15 to 20 minutes to alleviate discomfort associated with episiotomy, hemorrhoids, fistulas, anal fissures, and other anorectal conditions. ​

A sitz bath can also be performed by soaking in a shallow tub with or without therapeutic additives, such as Epsom salt. This is sometimes referred to as a "hip bath" because the water only comes up to the hip bone.

According to a 2011 study in the Japanese Journal of Nursing Science, people who use sitz baths find them comforting, although there is no clear evidence that they relieve pain or speed the healing of fissures or wounds.

Common Causes of Rectal Pain


You can buy a sitz bath at many drugstores for around $10. You can also find them at hospital pharmacies or medical supply stores. If you think you'll need a sitz bath following surgery or childbirth, you can ask a hospital staff member to provide you one prior to your discharge (although they may charge you more for it than what you'd pay somewhere else.)

How to Use a Sitz Bath

To prepare for a sitz bath, lay out the following items near the toilet that you plan to use:

How to Take a Sitz Bath

Sitz bath inserts come in several different types, some with overflow vents and others without. Other models come with a solution bag you can hang above the toilet like an IV bag, allowing water to flow through a tube into the tub via a lockable clamp.

The procedure is more or less similar regardless of the type of sitz bath you purchase. To take a sitz bath:

Use your sitz bath as often as recommended by your healthcare provider, generally several times a day to help ease discomfort. This is one remedy that can be used fairly often, although it is important to allow the skin to dry thoroughly between baths.

Oversaturating the skin with too-frequent sitz baths can promote skin dryness and slow the healing of cuts, fissures, and abrasions.

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