Many cases of recurrent vaginitis/vulvitis are due to chronic irritation. It is important to break this cycle by avoiding any irritation from chemicals, moisture, or friction.
- Wash the vulva gently with warm water, using your hand. Do not use soap or scrub with a washcloth.
- Never douche.
- Avoid using wet wipes, feminine wipes, or any other products that are marketed for “freshness.” If you need to use a wipe to clean around the anus this is fine, but avoid using it on the vulva.
- Don’t use bubble baths or other scented products.
- Gentle cleaning with water when you shower is adequate. There is no need to wash your vulva more frequently than the rest of your body.
- Don’t shave your pubic hair. This can lead to ingrown hairs and infections.
- The pubic hair serves an important function in protecting the vulva from friction. If you want to groom, trimming is best. Waxing may be less irritating than shaving for some women (be sure appropriate hygiene practices are followed).
- Use unscented detergent without dyes.
- Don’t use fabric softener for underwear, pajama bottoms, or other things that may contact your vulva.
- Never use scented pads or tampons.
- Try unbleached all-cotton pads, which can be found at Whole Foods and CVS (house brand).
- Menstrual cups (like DivaCup) or reusable fabric pads may be more comfortable for some.
- Wear only all-cotton underwear.
- Sleep without underwear if you are comfortable doing so.
- Avoid pantyhose (if you must wear stockings, can cut out the crotch or wear thigh highs).
- Remove workout gear and bathing suits ASAP.
- Avoid tight fitting clothing.
OVER THE COUNTER PRODUCTS
- For dryness or irritation, using a barrier like Aquaphor or Vaseline can be very helpful. Never use anything that is scented.
- Olive oil and coconut oil are hypoallergenic and can be used to moisturize, and also as lubricant for intercourse. However, if you are using condoms, never use oil as lubricant as it weakens the latex (use water-based or silicone lubricants).
- Never use “feminine freshness” products which are full of scents and irritants.
- It is normal to have vaginal discharge, which will vary in amount and consistency with your menstrual cycle.
- If you have itching or an odor, call us as this could be a sign of an infection.
- If your discharge is a large enough amount that your underwear becomes damp, it is best to simply change your underwear as needed, as liners can be irritating. If you must wear a panty liner, use an all-cotton unscented product (see above).