Patient Resources from the Drexel Vaginitis Center
Tips for Avoiding Vaginal Infections
- Use plain unscented soap to cleanse the genital area; pat area dry or use hair dryer on low setting; avoid over-cleaning.
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Change out of wet bathing suits right away.
- Avoid douches, vaginal deodorants and bubble baths.
- After urination or bowel movements, cleanse by wiping or washing from front to back.
- If you are overweight, consider losing weight.
- If you have diabetes, adhere strictly to your treatment program.
- Consider water-soluble lubricant for vaginal intercourse, if needed for dryness (for example, Astroglide, Slippery Stuff). If not using condoms, almond oil can also be used.
Contact the Drexel Vaginitis Center
If you have a non-urgent question about your care or our services, you are welcome to email us.
Vulvar Skin Care
- Use a mild, enzyme-free soap (for example, Woolite, All Free Clear), especially on clothes that come in contact with the vulva. Use one-third to one-half the suggested amount.
- Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets.
- Look for underwear or exercise clothes with breathable or wick-away fabric.
- Wear cotton panties. Avoid any underclothes that cause increased friction, like thongs.
- Try thigh-high panty hose or stockings.
- Avoid tight clothing and synthetic fabrics.
- Remove wet bathing suits as soon as possible.
Bathing and Hygiene
- Avoid all body products (soaps, lotions, washes, gels) that contain fragrance. Consider avoiding the use of soap in the vaginal area completely.
- Recommended mild soaps include Cetaphil®, Basis®, Aveeno®, or Neutrogena®. Do not scrub vulvar skin with a washcloth. Wash with the hand or with running water and pat dry.
- Avoid bubble baths, bath salts, and hot water (hot tubs can sometimes worsen symptoms).
- Never douche.
- Avoid over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections without asking your provider first; anything in the vaginal area can cause burning or irritation. Do not use anti-itch products that contain benzocain, which is a powerful irritant.
- Stay away from deodorized pads or tampons. Tampons are fine as long as they are comfortable and are replaced often. Ask your doctor for specific product recommendations.
- Consider using cotton-only brands of pads and pantyliners, such as Maxim (available online at www.maximhy.com or in specialty health food stores), which may be less irritating.
- We discourage shaving or waxing as it may cause irritation or localized infections. Consider laser hair removal as a more permanent solution.
- Avoid scented toilet paper. If wiping is uncomfortable or causes burning, pour lukewarm water over the vulva after urinating and pat dry.
- To decrease irritation, small amounts of Vaseline petroleum jelly or Crisco vegetable shortening may be applied to the vulva as often as needed to provide a barrier, and protect and moisturize the skin. This may help to decrease irritation during your period and after urination. Note that these products should not be used with condoms.
- Cool compresses are often helpful, as well as splashing down with cool water.
- Soaks in lukewarm bath water with 4 to 5 tablespoons of baking soda will soothe vulvar itching and burning. Soak two or three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Using a lubricant can make intercourse more comfortable. Based on feedback from patients, we recommend the following lubricants: Astroglide, Slippery Stuff, Yes, Good Clean Love or coconut oil. Oils should not be used with latex condoms.
- For anal skin care, it is important to clean thoroughly after each bowel movement, but do not rub or scrub the area roughly. Try using Cetaphil® body wash or mineral oil after a bowel movement to help remove feces. Albolene® moisturizing cleanser is a makeup remover that can be helpful with cleaning after a bowel movement. It is available at CVS and Walgreens. Avoid baby wipes or personal wipes, as these products may cause more irritation. Please be sure that the toilet paper you are using is unscented. Vaseline petroleum jelly applied to the anal area can be helpful and provides a good barrier.
- Oral contraceptives and other hormonal contraceptives do not seem to increase the chances of getting a yeast infection.
- Contraceptive jellies, creams or sponges should not be used, as they may cause itching and irritation.
- If you use condoms, try a polyurethane non-latex condom. If your primary goal is prevention of pregnancy, consider lambskin condoms. However, these do not stop the spread of STDs. Be sure the condoms you are using are not coated with a spermicide, as this can cause irritation and burning.
Sections courtesy of L. Margesson, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, N.H.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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