Caring for your skin down there
Just in case you have been wondering if your vulval problem is happening because you aren’t washing enough….you don’t have a hygiene problem. Using soap, particularly if this is done frequently, will in fact make your skin more sensitive. It is best to avoid soap, particularly perfumed liquid soaps, abrasive washes and wet wipes. A soap substitute, available from your chemist, or simply soaking in a bath with a couple of handfuls of ordinary salt thrown in is the best way to clean vulval skin.
When having a bath avoid bubble bath, perfumed oils and antiseptics. A dipsersible bath oil (available from the chemist), or salt is the best bath additive.
Saline, made by adding two teaspoons of salt to a litre of water, is very useful if your skin is inflamed. Apply on a wad of cotton wool or soak in a bowl.
Pat dry gently, and avoid scratching with a towel.
Keep baths warm, not hot. You may take several baths per day if you find this soothing.
Avoiding irritating substances
It is very important only to apply what your doctor recommends. Even if you are desperate, don’t try things from the bathroom cupboard.
Avoid perfumed products, feminine sprays and antiseptics. Old medications should never be used. Methylated spirits, aloe vera and ti-tree oil are popular remedies that can actually be very irritating or even cause allergic reactions.
If possible use tampons rather than pads: the plastic backing in pads is a real problem. If you really want to use a panty liner make sure it doesn’t contain any plastic (a “breathable” one) but even these shouldn’t be worn day after day.
Use hypoallergenic toilet paper.
If you go swimming in a chlorinated pool, take off your costume and shower as soon as you get out.
Avoid nylon underwear, tight pants and G-strings.
Things you could be allergic to
- Toilet paper
- Any medication, either prescribed or over-the-counter
- Perfumed products
- Antifungal creams and pessaries
- Nail polish
- Latex condoms
If you suspect any of these things make you worse, avoid contact with them. If you think you have a problem with semen, discuss this with your doctor.You can be tested for this.
Most patients with a vulval problem have found that it has interfered with their sex life in some way. Sexual arousal may be less easy, leading to anxiety, dryness and sometimes painful vaginal spasm. It is normal for women to take longer to become aroused than men, and it is important not to attempt intercourse until aroused.
Don’t attempt penetration if it is causing pain. Wait until your problem has settled completely before having sex again. It is possible to have a sex life without penetration. You need to discuss this with your partner.
It may help to use a lubricant, but avoid gels. These usually sting and may contain antiseptics. Vaseline or ordinary cooking oil is best.Long term...
Remember that sensitive vulval skin needs ongoing care. Forgetting about treatment may lead to relapse, so it is important to make your treatment part of your daily routine.