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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."
A sitz bath is used for patients who have had surgery in the area of the rectum, or to ease the pain of hemorrhoids, uterine cramps, prostate infections, painful ovaries, and/or testicles. It is also used to ease discomfort from infections of the bladder, prostate, or vagina. Inflammatory bowel diseases are also treated with sitz baths.
Some patients may become dizzy when standing up after sitting in hot water; it is best to have someone else present when doing a contrast sitz bath.
The sitz bath is a European tradition in which only the pelvis and abdominal area are placed in water, with the upper body, arms, legs, and feet out of the water. The water can be warm or cool and one or two tubs may be used.
Warm sitz baths are one of the easiest and most effective ways to ease the pain of hemorrhoids. A warm bath is also effective in lessening the discomfort associated with genital herpes, uterine cramps, and other painful conditions in the pelvic area.
For prostate pain, patients should take two hot sitz baths a day, for about 15 minutes each.
To ease discomfort from a vaginal yeast infection, women should take a warm saline sitz bath. To prepare, fill the tub to hip height with warm water and add 1/2 c of salt (enough to make the water taste salty) and 1/2 vinegar. Sit in the bath for 20 minutes (or until the water gets cool). The vinegar will help bring the vaginal pH back to 4.5 (pH is a measurement of how acid or alkaline a fluid is).
A brief, cool sitz bath helps ease inflammation, constipation, and vaginal discharge. It can be used to tone the muscles in cases of bladder or bowel incontinence.
Other conditions respond to a "contrast bath" of both hot and cold. For this a patient should have a tub of hot water (about 110°F/43°C) and one tub of ice water. The patient should sit in the hot water for three to four minutes and in the cold for 30-60 seconds. This is repeated three to five times, always ending with the cold water.
If two tubs are not handy, the patient may sit in a hot bath (up to the navel). Then the patient stands up in the water and pulls a cold towel between the legs and over the pelvis in front and back. The cold towel is held in place for up to 60 seconds. Then the patient should sit back into the hot bath, and repeat the process 3-5 times, ending with the cold towel.
The bath should be filled with 3-4 in (8-10cm) of water. For most conditions, nothing else should be added (no bubble bath or oil).
The area should be carefully patted dry and, if necessary, clean dressings should be applied.
Sitz baths pose almost no risk. On rare occasions, patients can feel dizzy or experience rapid heart beat because of blood vessel dilation.
Swelling goes down; discomfort is eased; healing is promoted.
pH — A standard laboratory test that measures how acidic or alkaline a solution is.
Saline solution — Another word for salt water.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
1. a medium, e.g., water, vapor, sand, or mud, with which the body is washed or in which the body is wholly or partially immersed for therapeutic or cleansing purposes; application of such a medium to the body.
2. the equipment or apparatus in which a body or object may be immersed.
bed bath the cleansing of a patient in bed. A complete bed bath indicates that someone must totally wash a patient, as is done with an unconscious patient. A partial bed bath is one in which the patient is not totally dependent but is given a basin, soap, and water, as well as any assistance needed to maintain good hygiene.
bath blanket a flannel covering used to prevent chilling when administering a bed bath.
colloid bath a medicated bath prepared by adding soothing agents to the bath water such as gelatin, starch, or bran in order to relieve skin irritation and itching. The patient is dried by patting rather than rubbing the skin. Care must be taken to avoid chilling.
contrast bath alternate immersion of a part in hot water and cold water.
cool bath one in water from 18° to 24°C (65° to 75°F).
emollient bath a bath in a soothing and softening liquid, used in various skin disorders.
lukewarm bath warm bath.
oatmeal bath a colloid bath containing oatmeal, used for treatment of dermatoses to soothe the skin and relieve itching.
paraffin bath the dipping of a limb into a warm solution of paraffin, or the brushing of paraffin onto the skin, to provide pain relief and increase mobility.
sitz bath immersion of only the hips and buttocks, done to relieve pain and discomfort following rectal surgery, cystoscopy, or vaginal surgery; sitz baths also may be ordered for patients with cystitis or infections in the pelvic cavity. Temperature for a hot sitz bath is started at 35°C (95°F) and gradually increased to 40 to 43°C (104° to 110°F). The patient must be watched for fatigue and faintness, and an attendant must remain within calling distance. Cool compresses to the head or cool drinks during the bath promote comfort and relieve faintness.
sponge bath one in which the patient's body is not immersed but is wiped with a wet cloth or sponge; this is most often done for reduction of body temperature in presence of fever, in which case the water used is cool.
tepid bath one in water 24° to 33°C (75° to 92°F).
warm bath one in water just under body temperature, 33° to 37°C (92° to 98°F).
whirlpool bath one in which the water is kept in constant motion by mechanical means and has a massaging action that can promote improved circulation and relaxation; often used in the treatment of soft tissue injuries and management of open wounds such as burns.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
immersion of the perineum and buttocks only, with the legs outside the tub.
[Ger. sitzen, to sit]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
sitz bath(sĭts, zĭts)
1. A bathtub shaped like a chair in which one bathes in a sitting position, immersing only the hips and buttocks.
2. A bath taken in such a tub especially for therapeutic reasons.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Hydrotherapy in which the pelvis and lower abdomen are immersed in water in a seated position. Sitz baths are said to be useful for treating gynaecologic complaints, including pelvic inflammatory disease and dysmenorrhoea, as well as prostatitis, constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders.
A common sitz bath in health spas is a tub that maintains the water at high temperatures at one end, and at low temperatures at the other end, a so-called alternating or contrast sitz bath. The client switches back and forth several times; less commonly, sitz baths are taken in either cold water (usually less than one minute) or hot water (from 3 to 10 minutes).
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.
sitz bath(sits bath)
Immersion of only the perineum and buttocks, with the legs being outside the tub.
Synonym(s): hip bath.
Synonym(s): hip bath.
[Ger. sitzen, to sit]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012