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Good Skin Care: One Key to Preventing Vulvar and Vaginal Disorders

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August 24, 2023

When you are experiencing discomfort on or inside the vaginal area, it can be deeply unsettling. The discomfort can affect everyday activities – like working out or going to the bathroom – and makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be intimate with a partner.

The good news is that some vulvar and vaginal disorders are common, treatable and even preventable. Taking steps to practice good hygiene can help resolve some common symptoms or lessen your chance of developing vulvar and vaginal conditions like bacterial vaginosis or vulvar dermatitis. Follow these tips to improve your vulvar skin care.

  • Do not use wipes. If you must use a wipe, get WaterWipes, which are 99.7% water.

    If you are experiencing burning with urination, rinse your vulva afterward.

    Urinate and rinse your vulva after sexual activity.

    No bubble baths.

    Do not douche.

    Do not use pads. Tampons, period pants or menstrual cups are all preferable. If you must use a pad, change to a 100% cotton, fragrance-free, chlorine-free pad.

    Use soft, white unscented toilet paper, for example, Cottonelle toilet tissue in blue packaging.

  • Wear white, 100% cotton underwear.

    Avoid wearing pantyhose, thong underwear and tight-fitting clothes.

    Remove exercise clothing and wet bathing suits promptly. Then shower and rinse your vulva.

  • Do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets in loads with underwear.

    Use perfume-free, dye-free detergent; All Free and Clear is also protein enzyme-free in addition to those.

  • Wash your vulva with only warm water.

    Use hypoallergenic, unscented soap when necessary.

    Don’t shave your genital area. Waxing or laser hair removal are acceptable options.

    Rinse your genital area at the end of your shower to wash away any shampoo, conditioner or other products that may have run down your body.

    Following bathing, use a perfume-free, oil-based moisturizer such as Vaseline, Aquafor, coconut oil, Vitamin E oil or V-Magic.

  • Avoid exercises that place pressure on the vulva, like cycling.

    Limit intense exercises that create a lot of friction.

    Don’t swim in highly chlorinated pools.

    Avoid hot tubs.

If you’re following all of those tips but still suffering from vulvar rashes, itching or other discomfort, examine other products you may be using to see if they have irritants or allergens you may be sensitive to. Some common ones are:

  • Antiseptics (iodine, hexachlorophene)
  • Body fluids (semen, saliva, sweat, menstrual blood or urine)
  • Condoms containing spermicide
  • Contraceptive creams, jellies, foams, nonoxynol-9, lubricants
  • Emollients (lanolin, jojoba oil, glycerin)
  • Rubber products, including latex
  • Tea tree oil
  • Topical anesthetics, like VAGISIL (benzocaine, lidocaine, dibucaine)
  • Topical antibiotics, like NEOSPORIN (neomycin, bacitracin, polymyxin)
  • Topical antimycotics, like MONISTAT (nystatin)
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Vaginal hygiene products, including perfumes and deodorants

When your symptoms are persistent or get worse, consider seeing a vulvar and vaginal disease specialist. The University of Kansas Health System has the only specialized vulvar and vaginal disease care team in Kansas and the Kansas City region. In-person visits with the vulvar and vaginal specialists are at the College Square Medical Pavilion in Overland Park, Kansas. Virtual consultations are also available.

Call 913-588-1227 to schedule a virtual visit. To see us in person, call 913-588-1227 and ask for the OB-GYN scheduling team and the vulvovaginal disease experts.

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