A sitz bath with Epsom salt is a safe and effective way to treat a number of conditions in hard to reach places.
Sitz baths can be used to calm uncomfortable and frustrating conditions like hemorrhoids, an itchy anus, and pain caused by urinary retention.
It can also help ease the discomfort of pregnancy and childbirth in the anal region. This relaxing, soothing treatment can be done in the comfort of your home for a very small price.
What Is a Sitz Bath?
A sitz bath with Epsom salt is a form or treatment for a number of conditions that affect the anal and groin region. It simply involves adding a bit of water to your bathtub—about as much as it takes to submerge the groin area in water—and one cup of Epsom salt. A general rule to stick by is to add one cup of Epsom salt for every six inches of water in the tub, so if you decide you want a full body soak and fill the tub completely, you’ll want to add two cups of Epsom salt for effective treatment.
Sitz baths can relieve itching, muscle spasms and pain and works by relaxing the anal sphincter and reducing pressure in the area.
Sitz Bath to Soothe Hemorrhoids and More
You can use a sitz bath for a number of conditions. Here are some of the top uses for a sitz bath with Epsom salt:
1. Sitz bath to soothe hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids are very irritating, uncomfortable and can be difficult to treat. One of the easiest ways you can work to heal them is by soaking in a soothing sitz bath. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus and rectum, caused by pressure in the area. About half of all adults will get one by age 50. Symptoms include bleeding, pain and itching. Sitz baths make you feel more comfortable and provide relief from irritation and pain. A sitz bath for hemorrhoids can also help relieve inflammation and shrink the hemorrhoids as well.
2. Sitz bath for an itchy anus: There are a number of conditions that can lead to an itchy anus that is a little hard to reach. Furthermore, you might not always be in the mood to scratch that itch. A sitz bath can help relieve the itch by gaining access to areas you can’t and relieve inflammation, swelling and burning sensations. The most common causes of an itchy anus are anal fissures. These are small tears in the lining of the anal canal, often caused by passing difficult stools when you may push a little too hard. While they do heal, a sitz bath is useful by providing relief from uncomfortable burning sensations.
3. Sitz bath for episiotomy: A sitz bath can be a very useful form of relief for women who’ve recently given birth. An episiotomy is a minor incision made during birth to widen the opening of the vagina. Even if an episiotomy is not performed, it’s not uncommon for tearing to occur naturally that requires stitches and the accompanying pain and recovery time. A sitz bath can be used by women following childbirth to aid in recovery and relieve pain following the procedure. Taking a sitz bath a few times per day can speed up recovery and help soothe pain in the area.
4. Sitz bath for urinary retention: A warm water sitz bath may also help relax the sphincter and urethra to encourage easier flow of urine. There are conditions that can lead to problems expelling urine (i.e. a urinary tract infection or an enlarged prostate). In fact, urinary retention is a common issue for men who’ve undergone a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). A TURP is a type of prostate surgery that relieves urinary symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
How to Take a Sitz Bath
In order to treat discomfort in your nether regions, a sitz bath could be just the treatment you’re looking for. However, you want to make sure you do it right. Here are step-by-step sitz bath instructions:
1. Fill the bathtub with warm water. The temperature of the water should be warm, but not hot enough where it’s uncomfortable.
2. Add two cups of Epsom salt if you fill the tub (about 12 inches of water). Alternatively, you can fill the tub halfway (six inches of water) and add one cup of Epsom salt.
3. Swish the Epsom salt around with your hand until it’s completely dissolved in the water. You don’t want to feel any graininess from the salt at the bottom of your tub. The salt won’t be effective if it’s not dissolved.
4. Get in the tub, and ensure the affected area is entirely submerged. This means the Epsom salt water is able to get to where it needs to go and provide relief.
5. Sit in the tub with the affected area fully submerged for 15-20 minutes.
6. Before getting out of the tub, take a quick rinse in the shower.
7. Use a towel to pat yourself dry. Remember that letting the affected area air dry is your best bet at limiting irritation in the area. If you don’t have time to air dry, using a hair dryer on low power is an effective way to dry the area.
8. Bathe every few hours, three to four times per day until your symptoms begin to improve. If itchiness, inflammation or further irritation appears, stop using the Epsom salt because it may be triggering an allergic reaction.
Precautions for Sitz Bath
For the most part a sitz bath is a safe, non-invasive form of treatment and adverse reactions are unlikely. That does not mean, however, that they do not exist.
The most common negative reaction has to do with an infection of the perineum, although it rarely occurs. It’s typically caused by poor care for the wound or bathing in a dirty tub. You can avoid infections by making sure your tub is clean before every bath and making sure you’re following any orders provided by your doctor about caring for your condition.
A Variety of Uses for Sitz Baths With Epsom Salt
A sitz bath with Epsom salt is a great way to relieve irritation in those hard to reach places. This soothing treatment helps relieve inflammation and irritation, while aiding in the healing process. Its non-invasive nature means you can sit back and relax without having to worry about rupturing or worsening the condition. It’s also a nice opportunity to get some relaxing peace and quiet.
Read Next: What Sitz Treatment Can Do
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Episiotomy-aftercare,” U.S. National Library of Medicine web site, last updated June 11, 2014; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000483.htm, last accessed December 15, 2015.
Park, S. et al., “Warm Sitz Bath: Are There Benefits after Transurethral Resection of the Prostate?” Korean Journal of Urology, 2010 Nov; 51(11): 763–766; doi: 10.4111/kju.2010.51.11.763.
Todd, N., “Why Take a Sitz Bath?” Web MD web site; http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/sitz-bath , last accessed December 15, 2015.