Taking a sitz bath is something you want to look forward to, so take time and make it a relaxing experience. Let’s look at 5 important steps in making sitz bath treatments for hemorrhoids enjoyable and effective.
1. Bathtub or Sitz Bath Basin?: Decide the Best Place to Take Your Sitz Bath
Either choice contains both pros and cons. On the positive side, taking your sitz baths in your home bathtub is free and readily available. One downside to taking bathtub sitz baths is that it can be awkward. When you sitz bathe in a bathtub, you place more pressure on your hemorrhoids because you’re sitting on them. The solution is to elevate your bottom by sitting on an inflatable pillow. If you don’t have one, try rolling up a towel, twisting it into a circle, and sitting on it with your piles comfortably elevated in the center.
Taking bathtub sitz baths can be dangerous for people who have problems getting in and out of a bathtub. Some people become dizzy bathing in a bathtub. Although taking a sitz bath is not the same as immersing your full body in water to bathe, you still should consider this if you’ve had past experiences with becoming dizzy in the bathtub.
To make this treatment most effective, you’ll probably need to take sitz baths 2 to 3 times a day during hemorrhoid flare-ups and post-hemorrhoid surgery care. If getting in and out of a bathtub on your own is a problem, this may not be the best choice for you.
For many people, using a sitz bath basin seated on top of the toilet may be more comfortable and convenient. This is particularly true if you’re recovering from hemorrhoid surgery. Unfortunately, this process can also be messier. On the plus side, sitz bath basins come in many varieties and are priced very reasonably. Your local drugstore or medical supply store will probably carry these basins. Visit Amazon online, and you’ll find more than a dozen varieties of basins, most in the $10 to $20 range.
You can spend more and get units that hook up to your bathroom sink faucet and supply a continuous flow of temperature-controlled water during your sitz bath. The choice is yours: simplicity or more comfort for more money.
If you get a portable unit, the important thing, for safety, is to make sure that it fits solidly in your toilet seat so that it does not move around when you sit on it.
2. Prepare Your Water to Help, Not Hinder, Hemorrhoid Relief
A sitz bath should cover your hemorrhoids and the muscles that control your anus and buttocks. For most people, about 6 inches of water will do the job. If you want to take a “hip bath,” in which your hips are also covered, you may need to add more water.
Remember, the purpose of a sitz bath is to relax the muscles that open and close your anus and to draw more blood flow to the area. The added blood flow acts to aid healing. Sitz baths shrink inflamed piles and lessen the pressure on them. This aids hemorrhoid relief by substantially reducing the pain you may be experiencing.
So run about 6 inches of warm water, not hot water. Water feels hotter on our sensitive behinds than it does on our hands. This means that when you test the water temperature, if it’s hot on your hands, it’s too hot. To get the most out of your sitz bath, you need to be able to keep your hemorrhoids and anal muscle sphincter submerged for at least 15 minutes. If it’s too hot, you won’t stay put long enough.
Should you add anything to the water? That’s completely up to you. Some health professionals say all you need is clean water. Others suggest adding Epsom salt, baking soda, or essential oils such as lavender or juniper. The choice is completely yours. The clean water sitz bath is just as effective. This is your sitz bath; do whatever makes it most enjoyable for you.
However, there are a few don’ts. Don’t add soap, vinegar, bath beads, or bubble bath to your water. These ingredients can irritate the sensitive skin surrounding your hemorrhoids.
To be most effective, you’ll need to stay in your sitz bath about 15 to 25 minutes. So get comfortable. Grab that Business Week or O Magazine issue that you haven’t had time to read. Want to dig into that mystery you’ve been meaning to get to? Go for it. You’ll be investing quality time here, maybe 2 to 3 times a day, and if you occupy your mind with something enjoyable, the experience will be far more beneficial.
4. Afterward, Dry Yourself Completely
This is critical. Sitz baths are a valuable part of hemorrhoid relief because they make us focus on our anal hygiene. But dampness in this area is not good for healing. Make sure that you dry yourself completely after your sitz bath is over. You’ll probably be doing this 2 to 3 times a day during hemorrhoid flare-ups, so use a separate towel dedicated for this one function. This step will aid good hygiene. Pat, don’t wipe, the area dry.
5. Last, Apply an Ointment to Soothe Sensitive Skin
You’ve completed your sitz bath. Now, take one more step to further hemorrhoid relief. The skin surrounding your hemorrhoids is still skin. With all the stretching, enlargement from blood clots, and extra bathing, the skin down there will appreciate a soothing ointment. Apply petroleum jelly, zinc oxide cream, or an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream.
There, you’ve done it. Follow these 5 steps, and turn what might be an inconvenient, time-consuming experience into an enjoyable, healing investment of your time.
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