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Vulvar Hygiene – What Your Mother Should Have Taught You Already

Nobody likes to have problems “down there”. Nobody wants to have that itch that they can’t scratch in public. Nobody wants to have a strong odor or vaginal discharge.
Vaginal and Vulvar Health need to be encouraged by good habits, good hygiene. It just doesn’t happen spontaneously. You have to do your part to prevent problems and promote good health. It is easy and likely involves a lot of practices that your mother taught you (or should have taught you).
“Mama’s gonna make it simple for you…”

Do: Use gentle, unscented soap such as Dove Sensitive Skin, Neutrogena or Basis.
Don’t: Use scented soaps or body washes on your privates. You can use the scented stuff on the rest of your body if you wish.

Do: Use tampons or cotton pads. If you must use pantiliners, wear Kotex or Carefree.
Don’t: Use daily pantiliners. Avoid “Always” brand (many people develop an allergic reaction).

Do: Take nice warm plain water baths. Not too hot. Ok, you can add some plain Epsom salts or some Baking soda to the water. They are soothing.
Don’t: Use bubble bath or scented bath salts or oils. They can be very irritating and may cause allergies.

Do: Bathe or shower daily.
Don’t: Douche. Let me repeat, do not douche… at all. The same goes for feminine sprays and powders. (Why they still sell this stuff is beyond me. Maybe it is a conspiracy with the makers of yeast infection medications.). The vagina has mechanisms to clean itself out. Douching and fragrances ruin the balance of the vaginal environment making you susceptible to infections. They can cause irritation and allergic reactions too.

Do: Use your fingertips to wash, pat dry with a towel
Don’t: Rub your privates with a rough washcloth, loofa or scrub. Ouch!!! Don’t use powders on a regular basis. Do not use Talc based powders, (Talc is related to asbestos). Use corn starch based powders if you must use a powder.

Do: Use white, unscented toilet paper to wipe. You may use a nice gentle, unscented baby wipe too.
Don’t: Use Colored or scented toilet paper or feminine wipes.

Do: Use a nice soft towel to pat your vulva dry after bathing.
Don’t: Use a hairdryer as this can cause burns or be too drying to the delicate tissue at the opening of the vagina.

Do: Use clothing detergents without scents or dyes.
Don’t: Use scented clothing detergents with dyes or fragrances.

Do: Wear cotton panties.
Don’t: Wear synthetic (nylon, polyester, Lycra) panties. We need to let things breathe and cotton is better for this.

Do: Go barelegged, wear stockings, wear thigh highs, and wear knee highs.
Don’t: Wear pantyhose if you can help it.

Do: Wear loose fitting cotton or linen garments to promote good airflow that helps to prevent infections.
Don’t: Wear tight fitting jeans and pants. Avoid Thongs.

Do: Change your clothes as soon as possible after a workout or swimming.
Don’t: Wear wet swimsuits or workout clothing after you are done. Change into dry clothing.

Hopefully most of this sounds familiar to you. It won’t prevent every vaginal infection but good vulvar hygiene can reduce infections. So as we go into summer, you can reduce your chance of vaginal or vulvar infections. Happy Summer from Dr. Welcome and the staff at Mill Creek ObGyn!