Summer is a great time to revisit best practices for avoiding vaginal irritation. Unfortunately, as the weather heats up and we enjoy the summer sun in our yoga pants and swimming suits, vulvar irritation can increase. Below are some vulvar care guidelines to ensure maximum pool time with minimal irritation and itching, along with common symptoms of vaginitis and when you should call your gynecologist.
Summertime Tips for Vulvar Care
- Change out of your sweaty yoga pants or swimming suit as soon as possible.
- Use only unscented soaps in the shower.
- Use sensitive skin detergents and dryer sheets.
- If you have more irritation around or after your period, consider trying an unbleached pad or tampon. There are several brands readily available at most drugstores and online stores. Look for unbleached on the box.
- Coconut oil or Aquaphor externally is very moisturizing without chemicals or fragrances that can be irritating to that sensitive tissue. Consider applying either ointment nightly.
- Consider adding a probiotic to your regimen. Ensuring the appropriate healthy bacteria in the vaginal microbiome is crucial to your overall vulvar and vaginal health.
- Try not to shave for hair removal. Consider waxing or laser hair removal, but these methods can be expensive! You can also use a trimmer for pubic hair. Trimmers can get the hair very short without irritating the skin and are available at most drugstores and online stores.
- If you have chronic irritation or infections, cutting back on sugar and processed carbohydrates can be helpful.
Common Symptoms of Vaginitis (Inflammation of the Vagina)
- Discharge. It is normal for your vaginal discharge to fluctuate and change consistency throughout your menstrual cycle. However, if your discharge is thick, white, yellow, or green, or you have increased vulvar itching associated with discharge, it is time to call your gynecologist.
- Odor. Particularly a fishy odor should trigger a phone call to your gynecologist, too.
- Itching or External Redness. This can be a sign of vaginal infection or vaginitis, but there are also several skin conditions that can specifically affect the vulva. If you’ve tried the tips above and your itching or redness is worsening or not improving, it is time to have an exam and evaluation by your gynecologist.
I hope these tips and tricks keep you irritated-free so you can enjoy the sun and pool all summer! If you or your child are having vaginal irritation, find a BJC-affiliated gynecologist, or pediatrician today.