Caring for your vulvar skin

Vulvar skin is an important yet often forgotten part of the female genital tract. It consists of flaps of tissue that protect the genital organs like the vaginal opening and urethral opening. The vulva is made up of an inner fold called the labia minor and the outer fold called the labia majora. The delicate skin covering the vulvar area changes over a women’s lifetime and is influenced by hormones, skin conditions, temperature, chemicals and environmental factors. Careful washing and avoidance of vulvar irritants plays an important role in caring for your vulvar skin and will reduce problems like itching, burning or vulvar pain. 

Common Vulvar irritants 

Similar to the delicate skin of the face, the vulvar skin too may become irritated by items commonly used for daily washing and grooming. If you experience vulvar burning, itching and discomfort in the absence of an infection then you should consider your exposure to potential vulvar irritants. Common vulvar irritants include: 

•          Soap, bubble baths and salts, detergents, shampoo, conditioner

•          Adult or baby wipes

•          Panty liners and their adhesives

•          Nylon underwear, chemically treated clothing

•          Douches, yogurt

•          Spermicides, lubricants

•          Perfume, talcum powder, deodorants

•          Alcohol and astringents

Tips on caring for your vulvar skin

  • Try to avoid bath soaps, lotions, gels that contain perfumes. ​ These may smell nice but can be irritating to the skin of the vulva
  • Special washes, douching, sponges or loofas are unnecessary, washing with your hands is adequate for good cleaning as skin breakdown can occur with over scrubbing
  • Use ​Luke-warm to cool water for washing the vulvar area and air dry rather than rubbing with a towel ​
  • Do not use over-the-counter creams or ointments​ until you ask your health care provider as these often contain preservatives which irritate sensitive skin. When buying ointments, be sure that they are paraben and fragrance free
  • Small amounts of extra virgin olive oil​, vegetable oil, coconut oil, or solid shortening​ may be applied to your vulvar and vagina as often as needed to protect and moisturize the skin
  • Avoid shaving, waxing or laser​ing the vulvar area (the bikini line is ok) 

Leave a Reply