While many of us are contemplating a new wrinkle busting face cream or some extra bubbly bath products there are a few thinking about care of a much more personal nature. We’re talking products for downstairs and if you’ve ever thought about giving your bits a make-over then here are a few things to think about.

Care for your lady bits

Environmental Matters.

Women’s bits have to cope with; there’s our passion for tight clothing, our love-affair with waxing, the monthly unmentionables, the little wee problems  and over-zealous ‘activities’ to cope with (if you believe the hype).  Then there’s the  hours spent soaking in bubble bath or swimming in chlorinated pools to top it all off! While some of us can deal with all that life throws at us, others are left a bit itchy and sore and as scratching ‘downstairs’ is NOT a good look (or feel) many of us head to the chemist PRONTO….

Biologically our vulva discomfort can have a number of causes, none of which I am qualified to diagnose or offer treatment for so  it really is important that any lower itching, redness or discomfort be discussed with a medical health practitioner BEFORE you go and self-medicate.  That said there are still several ‘cosmetic’ issues that people want to deal with which we can investigate here such as odour control, appearance, minor itching and dryness.

  • Tight or synthetic clothing around the groin, especially on a hot day can cause excessive sweating and this can trigger itchiness due to a change in pH and excessive dampness – groin rot, eeeekkk.
  • Waxing get’s easier with time but it can still leave even the most seasoned professional feeling a bit red around the edges. This redness is usually a result of localised trauma to the skin rather than an allergic reaction (although a reaction to a wax fragrance or preservative is not unheard of).  If you start to develop a red and itchy rash that get’s worse over time it may be that an infection has set in which is not good and may require professional treatment via antibiotics.
  • The monthlies can give us downstairs problems due to the additional requirement for toilet and cleaning stops. In addition to that our fluids can change the pH of our pant region and some people are very sensitive to this.
  • Weeeeeeeeeee is a problem for many women as the constant drip of acidic pee can leave the skin quite sore and tender.
  • Boisterous activities such as high-impact sport’s or some bedroom activities can also leave an imprint in the form of grazing, bruising (try a mountain bike race on for size) or itchiness due to the area drying out (this is especially the case with swimming).
  • Bubble Baths and excessive use of cleaning and perfumed products can both dry out and irritate the sensitive vulva skin. If a product makes you itch upstairs, do NOT use it downstairs!

Product Check List.

As you can see from the list above, vulva discomfort has a number of ‘cosmetic’  or ‘temporary’ causes spanning from mechanical stress, and dryness to minor irritation and wetness.   These symptoms can be alleviated to some degree by a number of off-the shelf products if you know what to look for. Here are my top tips to vulva health cosmetically speaking!

The Dry and the Itchy.

  • Lubricants are not just something for bed-time, dry skin can become itchy and scratching can lead to irritation so using a lubricant pro-actively can be really useful.   Start off with a light-weight gel or cream  that is odourless and if that feels OK you can then start to look for something more fancy! Lubricants are often based on silicon’s or mineral oils which are well tolerated by the body. If you want a more sustainable product there are lubricants on the market based on vegetable glycerine which apparently work well.
  • Moisturisers can help with shavers rash or a dry itch stemming from too much chlorine. Choose an aqueous (water based) cream base that has a low/no odour and be prepared for a tingle if your product of choice contains menthol or ginger (common cooling or heating actives).  
  •  I would definitely say that less is more in the underwear dept so don’t worry too much about additives or extracts but you may find Bisabolol, Calamine, manuka honey, oat extracts or  zinc oxide useful stop-itch actives and arnica is good for bruising!

Cleaning Time.

  • You may not want to believe it but your bits can clean themselves with the help of a little water.  Too much soap and bubbles tends to make things a little uncomfortable  but if you must go for products that are hypoallergenic, dermatologically tested or for ‘babies’ – yes stealing your toddlers shampoo is a MUST!  Surfactants in the following families are usually mild: Sulfoacetate, betaines, Sulfosuccinates and amphoacetates.
  • Avoid traditional bar soap as the pH is too high at 8 plus. If you must use soap try a syndet bar such as Dove.
  • Avoid sitting in bubbles of any type for too long. The hotter the water, the more likely it is that you will become irritated  so turn it down and go easy on the bubbles.
  • Don’t over-do it.  Wet wipes and frequent washes may make you feel good for a while but you risk irritation in the long run. Changing undies may be better than washing it all down if that helps you to feel fresh!

Fragrance.

  • Go easy. Again you don’t need to spray yourself to death.  Try to stick to only one fragranced product and don’t apply it directly – put it onto your undies!  Watch for hidden fragrance in your loo role, feminine products or moisturisers.
  • Patch test. Natural doesn’t always mean better so before you go crazy on an essential oil or fragrance blend try it on your under-arm area and see what happens.

The Bottom Line.

There is nothing funny about an itchy fanny, especially when you have a busy day ahead so before yours gets out of control stop and think.

  • What changes can I make to my clothing to help me stay happy?
  • Am I over-doing the cleaning and if so why? 
  • How can I protect myself pro-actively?

There are a wide range of feminine hygiene products available today to help you feel as good as you look.  Just listen to your body, keep your cleansing routine simple and if you want to use perfume, try keeping it to the clothing rather than directly on your privates.  It also helps to drink lots of water but that’s another story.

Take care down there!