I have always had sensitive skin that required special care – especially my vulva. With a tendency toward yeast infections, an auto immune skin disease called Lichen Sclerosus, and the challenges of menopause, I finally made an appointment to see a Vulvar pain specialist. I found an amazing doctor who immediately put me at ease by asking questions and listening to my story. What surprised me most was the importance she placed on the basics of vulvar skin care. Many of her tips confirmed practices I had already put in place, but these important guidelines might be helpful for you too.
For years I’ve used Tide Free and Gentle detergent and avoided dryer sheets. The guidelines suggest using an ALL FREE and CLEAR detergent for every load in your washer and using 1/3 – 1/2 the suggested amount. Also avoid all fabric softeners or dryer sheets. Avoid stain removers on underwear, but if you must, then rewash them to rinse thoroughly.
Cotton underwear is the only way for me, but the guidelines took it a step further. They suggest only white cotton underwear during the day and flying free at night.
Of course also avoid tight clothing, especially those made from synthetics. If you need to wear pantyhose, buy them with a cotton crotch and then cut a diamond in the center of the crotch for extra air.
Bathing and Hygiene
For years I’ve been too afraid to try a bath bomb or bubble bath. Even when I shower, I know that my self-cleaning oven needs nothing more than warm water and gentle hands. I don’t scrub with a washcloth or towel afterwards. I gently pat dry.
The guidelines not only restrict soap for your vulva but also for your partner’s penis. Use only soap designated for sensitive skin like Dove, Neutrogena, Basis, or Aveeno. And if your husband wants to wash his penis, make sure that he thoroughly rinses it with warm water.
Obviously, no bubble baths, scented oils, douches or lotion applied to the vulva. Beware of hair removal products, or even shaving. Trimming using a clipper is a safer option to avoid skin irritation.
Don’t use deodorized pads or tampons. Stay away from nylon mesh weave on pads and look for cotton products. Suggested brands include Stayfree, Carefree and 7th Generation.
Even your toilet paper should be unscented and free of aloe or other lotions.
If you have chronic dampness, don’t constantly use panty liners. The guide suggests carrying an extra pair of cotton underwear and changing halfway through the day. Gold Bond or Zeasorb powder may also be applied but don’t use powders that contain cornstarch or talcum powder.
Proactive Vulvar Skin Care
Ever since I discovered coconut oil as a lubricant during sex, I have realized how good it is for my skin. My fingers no longer crack in the brutal winters of Minnesota.
The guide advises applying coconut oil to both the penis and the vagina for the best protection during intercourse. My doctor also suggested using coconut oil after each time I use the toilet to proactively protect my vulvar skin.
The only other lubricant the guide recommended was Slippery Stuff. Over the counter water-based lubricants don’t last long enough and can irritate your vulvar skin.
Whether or not you have sensitive skin, women’s vulvas are made from very sensitive tissue.
I remember applying Shellac, a alcohol based finish, to a large piece of furniture . With a room full of fumes, I squatted to reach the lowest points, and I was suddenly aware that I could feel the effects of the alcohol on my vulva. The skin of our vulva is basically an open membrane. It is so sensitive and must be treated with the utmost care.
To promote healthy vulvar skin watch out for deodorizers, soaps, shaving creams and scents that expose your skin to chemicals. Control moisture by letting your vulva breath naturally through cotton products. Reduce friction by avoiding tight clothes or and by using a good lubricant during intercourse. Rejuvenate your skin with coconut oil and show your vulva some care.