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GUIDELINES FOR VULVAR SKIN CARE

GUIDELINES FOR VULVAR SKIN CARE

NOTE: Any products listed below have been suggested for use because of their past success in helping to decrease or relieve vulvar/vaginal itching and burning.

Information for Crowning Moments Labor Assistance and Education Clients

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SOME SUGGESTED VULVAR PAIN & ITCHING MEASURES

The vulva is the external genitalia in the female.


The skin of the vulva can be quite sensitive. Because it is moist and frequently subjected to friction while sitting and moving, this area can be easily injured. There are various strategies that can be used to prevent irritation and allow the vulva to heal. Skin that is moist becomes soft and easily injured; therefore, keeping this area dry can accelerate healing. Chemicals found in toilet tissues, laundry soaps and detergents that contact the vulva can cause irritation. Avoiding contact with potential irritants that contain chemicals will be important. Fabric softeners in undergarments, chemicals in deodorant soaps, bubble baths, feminine hygiene spray and panty liners etc., can all cause irritation. The following recommendations are specific measures that can help in this regard.

Wear white 100% cotton underwear, and do not wear pantyhose, tights, or other close-fitting clothes. Enclosing this area with synthetic fibers holds both heat and moisture in the skin, conditions which potentiate the development of secondary infections. Tight-fitting clothes may also increase your symptoms of discomfort.

After washing underwear, put it through at least one whole cycle with water only. Some women have suffered needlessly from irritants in detergents whose residue was left in clothes by incomplete rinsing. Rinsing clothes thoroughly is more important than which detergent is used although to be on the safe side, the milder the soap, the better. Baking soda for washing clothes is recommended by some people. Wash new underwear before wearing. Fabric softeners and drying sheets should not be used.

Rinse skin off with plain water frequently. Use tap water, distilled water, spring water-bathtub baths, sitz baths, squirt bottles, or bidets. Pat the skin dry gently, or dry with a cool hair dryer if you prefer.

Use very mild soap for bathing. Neutrogena, Basis, Pears (made in England), and castile soap with olive oil (Conti) are good soaps. They are found at pharmacies or health food stores. Remember that frequent baths with soaps may increase the irritation. You cannot wash away your symptoms.

A compress of oiled Aveeno (a powdered oatmeal bath treatment) has been recommended by some. It is placed over the vulva three to four times a day. Put two tablespoons of Aveeno in one quart of water. Mix in a jar and refrigerate. This is often helpful after intercourse or when symptoms are flaring.

Tea bags. Some women find warmed soaked tea bags to be soothing to the vulva. The tea bag may be placed on menstrual pads to hold them in place. Another method is to steep tea bags in warm water and use them in a sitz bath.

Use lubricants suggested by your physician to make intercourse more comfortable. Astroglide is a product with a natural lubricating action. If your pharmacy does not carry it, they can call the company to order it. Other lubricants include Lubrin, Moistur-el, Replens and KY Jelly.

Use 100% cotton menstrual pads and tampons. Many women with vulvar pain experience a significant increase in irritation and pain every month when they use commercial paper pads or tampons. This monthly increase in pain can often be reduced by using 100% washable and reusable cotton menstrual pads. Some disposable cotton pads are available. Pure cotton tampons are also available listed here. Although there are no known studies to support this I feel that the chemicals and synthetic products used to manufacture these products ie, Glue, Bleach, Rayon,...ect. do have long term exposure risks and it is better to be safe than sorry. My Pet Peve.

Don't sit or remain in a wet bathing suit.

Avoid contraceptive devices and creams that can irritate sensitive tissues.

Additionally, it is often recommended that the vulva is left uncovered at night (i.e. no underwear) to allow adequate exposure to the air.

Many of the disease processes will require a biopsy to diagnose your condition. If a biopsy is performed during your visit, after care is important. Keep the area clean and dry. Avoid application of creams or ointments to the biopsy site. Sitz baths twice a day for three or four days following the biopsy will aid in healing. If increase redness, severe pain, heavy discharge, or heavy bleeding occurs at the biopsy site, call for further instruction. Avoid intercourse until the biopsy site is healed.


LAUNDRY

  • Use a mild, enzyme-free soap (such as Woolite Gentle Cycle, All Free and Clear or Earth Right) 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.

  • Soak and rinse in clear water all underwear and towels on which you have used a stain removing product. Then, wash in your regular washing cycle. This assists in removing as much of the product as possible.

    CLOTHING

  • Wear white, all cotton underpants -- not nylon with a cotton crotch. "Jockey for Her" and "Hanes Her Way" are two brands you may try.

  • Avoid pantyhose -- if you must wear them and they make you uncomfortable, cut the crotch out along the inset panel (leave about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of fabric from the seam to prevent running).

  • Avoid tight clothing and clothing made of synthetic fabrics. Remove wet bathing and exercise clothing as soon as you can.

    BATHING AND HYGIENE

  • Avoid bath soaps, lotions, gels, etc., which contain perfumes and may smell nice but can be irritating. This includes many baby products and feminine hygiene products marked "gentle" or "mild". Dove, Neutrogena and Pears are the soaps we suggest.

  • Avoid all bubble baths, bath salts and scented oils. You may apply a neutral (unscented, non-perfumed) oil such as "Keri Oil" to damp skin after getting out of the tub or shower. Do not apply oils directly to the vulva.

  • Do not scrub vulvar skin with a washcloth -- washing with your hand is enough for good cleaning.

  • Pat dry, rather than rubbing with a towel. Use a hairdryer on a cool setting when skin is sore or tender to the touch.

  • Avoid all over-the-counter creams or ointments, without asking your health care provider first.

  • Avoid douching. Soaking in a bathtub of warm water (not hot) with 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda will help rinse away extra discharge and help prevent odor.

  • Soak in lukewarm bathwater with 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda to help soothe vulvar itching and burning. Soak 2-3 times a day for 10-15 minutes.

  • Avoid the use of deodorized pads and tampons. Tampons should only be used when the flow of blood is heavy 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, odor or toxic shock syndrome. Also I advise most women to use all natural cotton pads and even better are the products listed here

  • Small amounts of "A&D" ointment may be applied to your vulva as often as needed to protect the skin. It may also help to decrease skin irritation during your period and when you urinate.

  • Do not shave the vulvar area. Shaving may cause irritation and lead to infection.

  • Use white, unscented toilet paper. If paper has a perfumed scent, avoid using it.

  • Avoid all feminine hygiene sprays, perfumes, adult or baby wipes. Pour lukewarm water over the vulva after urinating, if urine causes burning of the skin. Pat dry rather than rubbing with a towel.

  • Larger women may have problems with chronic dampness. Keeping dry is important. Use of a hairdryer on a cool setting may help to dry your body. Avoid tight clothing and synthetic fabrics. Choose cotton fabrics whenever you can. Gold Bond Powder may be applied to the vulva and groin area 1-2 times per day to absorb moisture.

  • Dryness during intercourse may be helped by using a lubricant. If you are in a long-term monogamous relationship and not using condoms, use a small amount of pure vegetable oil such as Crisco (solid or oil). The vegetable oils contain no dyes or perfumes and will last through intercourse. They rinse away with water and will not increase your chances for infection. Avoid ALL Petrolleum Based Lubes and Oils They cause infections and can not be used with latex condoms or other barrier methods of contraception! For couples using condoms, water-based products like K-Y Jelly.

    BIRTH CONTROL OPTIONS

  • The new low-dose oral birth control pills do not increase your chances of getting a yeast infection.

  • Contraceptive jellies, creams and sponges may cause itching and burning. A brand change may be helpful. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for help.
    If you are concerned about any difference in your treatment plan and the information in this handout, you are advised to contact your health care provider.

    These are notable sites that I feel I could not do any better at so I have linked them for your convienience! Use your back browser button to return to my pages!

    Crowning Moments Labor Assistance and Education
    338 South Hague Ave.
    Attention: J.Ullman, LPN
    Columbus, Ohio 43204
    Appointments(614) 308-9658

    Adapted From:

    • The Vulvar Pain Foundation, Natural and Prophylactic Measures
    • Suggested înstructions, Vulvar Pain Newsletter 1993; Spring: 5-6.
    • The Interstitial Cystitis Association Vulvar Pain handout



    Last modified:Feb. 2001

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