We recommend sitz baths to ease the discomfort and irritation of radiation proctitis. Sitz baths should be done 3-4 times a day if possible.
You may take your sitz bath in the bathtub, in a large dishpan, or in a special sitz bath pan that fits into your toilet. What is most important is that you use enough water to cover the entire rectal area with 3-4 inches of water.
Use warm water, but do not make it too hot or you will burn your already irritated skin and tissues. You should sit in the water for at least 10 minutes each time or until it gets uncomfortably cold. You may add baking soda to the water if you choose, or you can use just plain water - it is your choice.
Dry the skin carefully afterwards with a soft towel. After that, you should air dry the skin between the creases. Do this with an electric fan or a hand-held hair dryer set on COOL. Pull the skin folds apart and blow air on the skin for 10-15 minutes.
Additional things you can do to help with rectal irritation from diarrhea or proctitis:
1. Keep the skin as clean as possible. You may use baby wipes, Tucks pads, or a sitz bath after every bowel movement to keep the skin clean.
2. Keep the skin as dry as possible. If you are at home, wear loosefitting housedresses or boxer shorts, preferably without any other underwear. Avoid nylon underpants, pantyhose, or tight-fitting pants, as these retain both heat and moisture.
3. Avoid putting any creams or ointments on the skin, unless specifically instructed. Itching and burning can be soothed at any time with a sitz bath or using a Tucks pad as a compress.
4. Control diarrhea if you have it. Anti-diarrheal medicines will NOT help if you are having frequent, small, formed stools, but watery diarrhea will burn already irritated skin. Ask if you need advice.