Hemorrhoids are a decidedly unpleasant condition caused when one of the “cushions” of the anal canal becomes swollen. Although not dangerous, hemorrhoids can often alarm people when they first experience the rectal bleeding that can sometimes result. How long a hemorrhoid takes to heal on its own depends on a few different factors. Thankfully, you can try a sitz bath for hemorrhoids relief.
A sitz bath for hemorrhoids relief can be helpful since hemorrhoids painful, especially during moments of straining (i.e. when passing a bowel movement). Seeking treatment for hemorrhoids is often difficult because people may be embarrassed to talk to their doctors about it or be seen purchasing hemorrhoid relief products, such as “Preparation H”.
The good news is that taking a sitz bath to soothe hemorrhoids can be done in the comfort of your own home.
The good news is that there are natural ways to soothe hemorrhoids in the comfort of your own home. For example, you can try taking a sitz bath.
What Is a Sitz Bath?
A sitz bath, at the most basic level, is a shallow bath in warm water meant to soothe the lower part of your body. Specifically, a sitz bath targets the perineum area—the space between the rectum and vulva/scrotum. The idea is that the warm water will soothe the perineum, relax blood vessels and swelling and improve blood flow.
To perform a sitz bath you can use a regular bathtub; however, you can also find commercial sitz bath basins in stores or online. These are specially-designed basins that fit over a toilet seat. Whichever one you use depends on personal preference.
How a Sitz Bath Helps Soothe Hemorrhoids
The anal canal has many veins and blood vessels that run through its lining. These vessels are placed under high pressure during moments of prolonged sitting/straining that can result in swelling. High pressure can also come from the extra weight of an overweight or pregnant individual.
Warm water is a vasodilator, which means that it causes blood vessels to open and relaxes muscles. By loosening the tightened and swollen hemorrhoid, pain is eased and the hemorrhoid may even shrink. In the event that your hemorrhoid is severe enough to warrant surgical removal, a sitz bath can also ease lingering pain and discomfort as part of the aftercare.
Sitz baths can also be used to ease constipation and to strengthen pelvic floor muscles that may have become weakened from injury or giving birth. They can also provide general relief in cases of irritated or itchy skin.
A sitz bath can be taken with just warm water but some people might add salt, vinegar or baking soda (not both!) to add an enhanced cleansing effect.
How to Perform a Sitz Bath
Before you begin, it is important to clean the tub/basin. This is true regardless of whether you are using a bathtub or a basin product. If using a basin, make sure it is firmly secured once cleaned.
- First, fill the tub with three to four inches of water. The water should be warm but not enough to cause discomfort. You should also fill a flask or another container with hot water and keep it nearby. A sitz bath takes time and you will need to add extra water now and then to maintain the right temperature. If you are using additions like Epsom salts or vinegar, mix them in now.
- Next, drop your pants. Sit down on the basin or in the tub to begin soaking the perineum. If you are using a bathtub, you should try to place your legs over the side so that the perineum gets enough exposure.
- Soak for 15-20 minutes. Remember to add more warm water as needed to keep the temperature from dropping.
- After your time is up, rise slowly. Since a sitz bath dilates blood vessels, people have been known to get dizzy or have a rapid heartbeat after finishing one. This is normal and will pass.
- Ideally, you should air dry your rectum for maximum gentleness. Since this can be time-consuming, another option is to pat dry the area with a soft cotton cloth. The important thing is to not use a wiping motion since this can cause agitation. To keep the hemorrhoid site from drying out, you can apply gels like Preparation H as well.
- Lastly, clean and rinse the basin or tub with soap and water and remember to wash your hands after you’re done.
A sitz bath should be performed twice a day, ideally right after you have a bowel movement. One of the reasons for this timing is that a sitz bath can sometimes relax the anal canal enough to induce a bowel movement. Due to how connected constipation and hemorrhoids can be, this result may actually be desirable. In any case, should this happen you will need to thoroughly clean the tub or basin and empty out the water as soon as possible after passing the stool.
Risk Factors to Keep in Mind
A sitz bath is perfectly safe but there are some possible complications to be aware of. In rare cases, the perineum can become infected. This mainly happens if you have a surgical wound or if the tub or basin isn’t cleaned properly beforehand. Should the pain and/or itching worsen or the perineum area become red and puffy, stop taking sitz baths immediately.
Other Options for Hemorrhoid Relief
A sitz bath does not need to be your only source of treatment for hemorrhoid pain. There are several additional natural remedies you can employ alongside a sitz bath for maximum relief:
- As mentioned, straining on the toilet can aggravate hemorrhoids. Increase your fiber intake and stay hydrated to help move stool along and make bowel movements easier.
- If possible, bathe instead of shower. This will help keep the anal area clean and also provide warmth for the perineum area.
- Lightly moisten toilet paper and pat instead of wipe following a bowel movement.
- Avoid using pre-moistened toilet paper or any scented products. The perfume and alcohol these products contain will dry out and aggravate the rectal area.
Remember—if you want to naturally treat your hemorrhoids, try a sitz bath for hemorrhoid relief. It can be done in the privacy of your own home, help ease the pain as well as loosen the swollen hemorrhoids.
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Sources for Today’s Article:
Stang, D., et al., “Sitz Bath,” Healthline web site, http://www.healthline.com/health/sitz-bath#Overview1, last accessed November 20, 2015.
“What Is A Sitz Bath For Hemorrhoids – Recipe, How To Make,” Hemorrhoid Solutions web site, http://shrinkinghemorrhoids.com/what-is-a-sitz-bath-for-hemorrhoids-recipe-how-to-make/, last accessed November 20, 2015.