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Aromatherapy and "Hip" Baths

What is a Sitz bath?

A Sitz bath, from the German word ‘zitzen’, meaning to sit, is often referred to as a hip bath. In the mid 1850’s, a sitz tub was made out of tin and lined in “linen damask, think bird’s eye diaper, or white huckaback” towels to protect the skin from the tin’s heat. The water was warmed by the tub. Depending on why and the skin condition, in the past bathing experts would suggest vigorous toweling after the bath to promote blood circulation and to remove dry skin or, if sores or lesions existed, then air drying was recommended. Although created for medical purposes, people found that they really enjoyed it at leisure as well.

Although to date there is no evidence that a warm bath will ease pain and discomfort, personal experience has proven otherwise. Despite this lack of evidence, physicians often recommend the use of a warm bath to ease discomfort. Skin healing essential oils, when used properly, can also help ease symptoms and lessen the healing time. Here, I will explain how these can also be beneficial in your bath.

Today, a bath can be done by obtaining a kit from a medical supply, pharmacy or online that fits right over the toilet seat that comes with a cord and bag to disperse the warm water. Some physicians may recommend the use of Domeboro powder, depending on a patient’s condition. These kits include the powder. However, it can be purchased separately. The powder is the advanced version of Burow’s Solution, developed by plastic surgeon and anatomist named Karl August Burow. He created it to relieve the itching and inflammation of minor skin irritations. Dr. Burow s’ wound healing techniques are still in wide use today.

You may choose to use your bath, since sitting in your tub in warm water may bring greater relief. This will require the tub is thoroughly cleansed and bacteria free.

A sitz bath is a great way to cleanse and relieve discomfort, pain or itching of the perineum, which is the space between the rectum and the vulva or scrotum. Whether recuperating from surgery, hemorrhoids, or various other discomforts, a sitz bath can bring a huge comfort.

If you choose to use essential oils, taking steps to use them safely ensures that you don’t add to your discomfort. Prior to adding to your water, essential oils should be added to a carrier (fixed) oil and into the powder or if using Epsom salts, added to the salt. This ensures proper dispersmant of the essential oils, so they don’t adhere to any skin, especially tender skin. If you’ve recently had surgery, birth or other open wounds, consult with your physician before immersing or cleansing the area with water with or without essential oils.

When Should I Take One?

Anytime you want to ease pain or discomfort, inflammation or speed up healing, soaking in the warm water will increase blood flow to the area, easing discomfort and increasing your healing. There may be situations where a sitz bath may not heal your condition, but it can bring great relief to many associated symptoms. Conditions that it may help include anal fissure, constipation or diarrhea, soreness, inflammation and more. This may be helpful with young children who experience constipation and may be suggested by your pediatrician.

How do I make a Sitz bath?

Either follow the directions of your kit or do your bath in the tub. Use enough water to cover the pelvis and abdominal area. The water temperature should be warm and comfortable. Depending on why you are doing it, you can soak up to three times a day for about 15-20 minutes or as you or per your physicians instructions.

Avoid using any added soaps or bubble bath products. These products can add to your discomfort by adding synthetic ingredients into the water. Some physicians may prescribe an additive and that is fine. Or they may suggest Epsom salts. Remember to check your water temperature prior to entering. It should be comfortable to the touch.

Taking a sitz bath in the bathtub

If you’re taking a sitz bath in the bathtub, take extra steps to cleanse your tub thoroughly to avoid any possible bacteria.

  • I like using White Distilled Vinegar. It’s very effective with destroying most bacteria. Vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid, the pH of which is too strong for most germs to survive and why it’s very effective for cleaning the home. Using undiluted vinegar, clean your tub and rinse.

  • Next, fill the tub with 3 to 4 inches of water. The water should be warm. You can test the temperature of the water until you’ve found a comfortable temperature

  • Add any essential oils (diluted as mentioned) or other items prescribed or recommended by your doctor, to the bath.

  • Carefully step into your tub and situate yourself so you are covered, with knees slightly bent. Soak your perineum for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • When you get out of the bathtub, either air dry or gently pat yourself dry with a clean soft white towel, avoiding any sore areas.

How To Use Essential Oils-Step by Step

Like the parent plant, essentials oils have many therapeutic properties, varying from oil to oil. Essential oils are made of tiny molecules that can cross the blood brain barrier and enter our blood stream, therapeutically going to work. Essential oils consist of chemical families and within those families, are components called constituents. Each component has its own therapeutic property, although the total chemical makeup contributes to the power of each oil.

Essential oils are not water soluble which means “oil and water don’t mix”. To protect your skin and prior to adding to your bath, blend your choice of essential oils with a carrier oil. Choosing some simple on hand ingredients may be easier than you think. Organic Aloe Vera Jelly, which contains thickeners and preservatives as well as aloe Vera leaf extract, is a good choice. You can make this ahead and keep on hand for the duration of your recovery without concern for bacteria. Water based products without a preservative can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Note that Aloe Vera gel, juice and liquid are not Aloe Vera jelly and are water-based.

The second option is adding your oils to a vegetable or fruit oil. Olive oil, Jojoba oil, Rose hip, Pomegranate, Grape seed and more are great choices. This protects the skin; however, it still must be added to Epsom salts or the powder as mentioned above to disperse into the water properly.

Combine 1-5 drops of your essential oil or blend into ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) of carrier of choice. For a regular size tub, you could use 5-20 drops per ½ ounce (1 tablespoon). Add to 1 cup of Epsom salts or powder above.

The oils I’ve chosen for the various issues can be found in the provided references at the end of the article. There are other oils that may have the same therapeutic properties.

Some oils come with further safety notes.If unsure, please email Rehne Burge at for further assistance


  1. Bergamot Citrus bergamia

  2. Cedarwood Juniperus virginiana

  3. Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus

  4. German Chamomile Matricaria recutita

  5. Juniper berry Juniperus communis

  6. Lavender Lavendula angustifolia

  7. Sandalwood Santalum album


  1. Black pepper Piper nigrum

  2. Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis ct camphor

  3. Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

  4. Sweet Marjoram Origanum majorana

  5. Rose absolute Rosa x damascena


  1. Cypress Cupressus sempervirens

  2. Frankincense Boswellia carterii

  3. Juniper berry Juniperus communis

  4. Myrrh Commiphora myrrha

  5. Lavender Lavendula angustifolia


  1. Bergamot Citrus bergamia

  2. Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Globulus

  3. Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis

  4. German Chamomile Matricaria recutita

  5. Geranium Pelargonium x asperum

  6. Lemon Citrus limon


  1. Clary Salvia sclarea

  2. Jasmine absolute Jasminum officinale

  3. Niaouli Melaleuca quinquenervia

  4. Patchouli Pogostemon cablin

  5. Rose absolute Rosa damascena

  6. Thyme Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool

  7. Ylang-Ylang Cananga odorata var. genuina


  1. Bergamot Citrus bergamia

  2. Copaiba balsam Copaifera officinalis

  3. Cypress Cupressus sempervirens

  4. Frankincense Boswellia carterii

  5. Helichrysum Helichrysum Italicum

  6. Juniper Berry Juniperus communis

  7. Scotch Pine Pinus sylvestris

Incontinence (Enuresis)

  1. Cypress Cupressus sempervirens

Muscle Pain:

  1. Lavender Lavendula angustifolia

  2. Bergamot Citrus bergamia

  3. Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis

  4. Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus

  5. Geranium Pelargonium graveolens

  6. Sweet Marjoram Origanum officinalis

  7. Peppermint Mentha piperita

Menstruation (Ovarian discomfort)

  1. Basil ct. Linalool

  2. Bergamot Citrus bergamia

  3. Clary Sage Salvia sclarea

  4. Cypress Cupressus sempervirens

  5. Jasmine Jasminum officinale

  6. Lavender Lavendula angustifolia

  7. Sweet Marjoram Origanum officinalis


  1. Black Spruce Picea mariana

  2. Cypress Cupressus sempervirens

  3. Red Myrtle Myrtus communis

Postpartum Recovery

  1. Bergamot Citrus bergamia

  2. Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis

  3. Clary Salvia sclarea

  4. Geranium Pelargonium graveolens

  5. Jasmine Jasminum officinale

  6. Lavender Lavendula angustifolia

  7. Neroli Citrus aurantium var. amara

  8. Patchouli Pogostemon cablin

  9. Rose absolute Rosa damascena

Uterine Cramps (PMS discomfort)

  1. Clary Sage Salvia sclarea

  2. Frankincense Boswellia carterii

  3. Geranium Pelargonium graveolens

  4. Myrrh Commiphora myrrha

  5. Palmarosa Cymbopogon martini

  6. Thyme Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool

Vaginal Discharge & Yeast Infections (Vaginitis)

  1. Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus

  2. Cedarwood Cedrus atlantica

  3. Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis

  4. Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis ct. Verbenone

  5. Thyme Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool

Vaginal surgery recovery:

According to Physicians directions. Once wound is healed and your physician gives you the go ahead, try the following:

  1. Balsam Fir Abies balsamea

  2. Frankincense Boswellia carterii

  3. Helichrysum Helichrysum italicum

  4. Lavender Lavendula angustifolia

  5. Palmarosa Cymbopogon martini

  6. Ravensara Ravensara aromatica

  7. Thyme Thymus vulgare ct. linalool



  2. Dr. Jean Valnet, The Practice of Aromatherapy, pg. 89-240

  3. Sylla Hanger-Sheppard The Aromatherapy Practitioner Manual Vol. I & II




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