Vulvar Skin Care


 

Laundry:

  • Use mild enzyme-free soap (such as Woolite Gentle Cycle or All Free and Clear) on any clothing that comes in contact with your vulva (use 1/3 to 1/2 the suggested amount per load). Other clothing may be washed in the soap of your choice.
  • Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets on any clothing that comes in contact with your vulva.


Clothing:

  • Look for underwear or exercise clothes with “cool max” or breathable “wick-away” fabric. Wear all-cotton underpants—not nylon with cotton crotch.
  • Thongs may cause irritation due to mechanical rubbing.
  • Avoid pantyhose. Many manufacturers are making thigh-high stockings. Opt for these instead.
  • Avoid tight clothing and clothing made of synthetic fabrics. Remove wet bathing suits and exercise clothing as soon as you can. These will not cause a yeast infection but can mechanically irritate the vulvar area.


Bathing and Hygiene: 

  • Avoid bathing soaps, body washes, lotions, gels, and other products which contain perfume. No soap is best in the vaginal region. If you must use soap, Aveeno Oatmeal and Neutrogena soaps are recommended.
  • Do not scrub vulvar skin with a washcloth; washing with your hands or running water is sufficient.
  • Avoid all bubble baths, bath salts, scented oils, and hot water.
  • Pat dry rather than rubbing with a towel.
  • Avoid all over-the-counter creams or ointments and anti-yeast medications with asking your health care provider first. Remember: anything used locally in the vaginal area has the potential to cause during irritation. Do not use Vagisil.
  • Never douche
  • Avoid the use of deodorized pads and tampons. Do not use Always pads or minipads.
  • Tampons should only be used when the flow of blood is enough to soak one tampon in four hours or less. Tampons are safe for most women, but wearing them too long or when the flow of blood is light may result in vaginal infection, increased discharge, or toxic shock syndrome. If pads are irritating, consider using “natracare pads.” These pads can be found in health food stores.
  • Do not shave the vulvar area. Shaving may cause irritation and lead to infection
  • Avoid scented toilet paper.
  • Avoid all feminine hygiene sprays, perfumes, adult, or baby wipes. Pour lukewarm water over the vulva after urinating if urination causes burning. Pat dry rather than rubbing with a towel.


Comfort Measures:

  • Soak in lukewarm bathwater with 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda or Aveeno Oatmeal soak to soothe vulvar itching and burning. Soak 2-3 times a day for 10-15 minutes. If you are busy, a cool compress with help, as will splashing down with cool water.
  • To decrease irritation, small amounts of A&D Ointment or Crisco Shortening may be applied to the vulva as often as needed to protect skin. This may also help to decrease skin irritation during your period and after urination.
  • Dryness during intercourse may be helped by using a lubricant. A small amount of almond oil, which can be obtained at health food stores, is recommended for lubrication. Astroglide, available from the pharmacy, should be used with condoms. If you use condoms, we suggest you use non-latex polyurethane condoms, such as Avanti or Trojan (certain ones) brands. Latex condoms cannot be used with almond oil.


Birth Control:

  • The new low-dose birth control pills do not seem to increase the chances of getting a yeast infection.
  • Contraceptive jellies, creams, or sponges may cause itching and burning. A brand change may be helpful. Discuss the different brands available with your health care provider.


Smoking:

  • Smoking has anti-estrogenic properties. Stop smoking! This will contribute to vaginal health.