Vagina Care Mistake #1: You Go All Bare
Removing pubic hair has long been rumoured to be the most hygienic way to keep your vagina clean. However, it is indeed the opposite.
Your hair is there for a reason. It’s nature’s way of ensuring that the delicate folds of your vaginal skin does not stick together, thus preventing rash and infection. It also traps bacteria that could cause infections such as urinary tract infections.
Even the process of removing pubic hair can cause additional infections and burns, irritating the skin around your vagina even more.
Vagina Care Mistake #2: You're Not Managing Those Pesky Ingrown Hairs
Remember those pesky bumps that hurt? When we remove our pubic hair via waxing or shaving, there’s a chance that when the hair grows back, it curls back under the skin. Couple that with accumulated sebum within the hair follicle and you get a painful bump known as an ingrown hair.
While they tend to resolve by themselves, there are ways to manage them. Most importantly, you shouldn’t try to pick at them because similar to pimples, that can lead to infection and scarring. Instead, apply a gentle anti-inflammatory product like tea tree oil.
Or try Fur Oil, about $62 (75 ml). Made with jojoba and grape seed oils, it hydrates the sensitive area without greasiness. At the same time, it also contains clary sage and tea tree for an anti-bacterial and astringent effect to soothe skin, prevent ingrowns and speed up the healing process.
READ MORE: How To Prevent Ingrown Hairs, Rash And More When You Wax/Shave
Vagina Care Mistake #3: You Use Scented Soap
Scented soaps or cleaners can mess up the pH balance of your body, possibly causing an yeast infection. Even scented wipes and deodorants marketed specifically for your vaginas can irritate the sensitive skin around your vagina.
Before you start applying skincare products on your vulva, it’s important to read the labels clearly. This is because the area is extremely sensitive and the skin is thinner than elsewhere on our body. As a general rule of thumb, anything harsh, or anything that contains alcohol, artificial fragrances, sulphates and parabens should be avoided. Always check with your gynaecologist before you give any new product a go on your vulva and do a patch test just to be safe.
Vagina Care Mistake #4: You Use Too Many Products
While most soaps and cleansers have some form of synthetic chemicals in them, it does not mean they are automatically bad for you. However, certain synthetic chemicals have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.
Since the skin around your vagina is especially delicate and absorbent, these chemicals get absorbed into your skin more easily than other parts. These chemicals are sometimes known to disrupt hormones and kill all bacteria, even the ones that are good for you.
Despite the popularity of intimate grooming products, the truth is the vulva is probably one of the easiest area to look after. Thanks to the abovementioned microbiome that exists, the vulva is perfectly capable to regulating itself and keeping it in tip top condition. In fact, if you consult your gynaecologist, he or she will probably tell you that all you need to wash your intimate area is just water. If you use harsh cleansers that contain sulphates, artificial fragrances or dyes, these chemicals have the potential of causing irritation as they throw off its natural balance.
And if you insist on using a feminine wash, make sure you opt for one that respects your vulva’s delicate pH. Vagisil pH Plus Intimate Wash, $15.90 (240 ml), are pH-balanced, hypoallergenic and gentle enough for everyday use.
Vagina Care Mistake #5: You're Not Cleaning The Labia
Unwanted bacteria can sometimes accumulate into the folds of your labia. It is crucial that you clean it thoroughly (with a scent-free soap, of course) before it can cause an infection.
Vagina Care Mistake #6: You Scrub Too Hard
While it is important to clean thoroughly, scrubbing too hard, especially with washcloths or loofahs, can irritate your skin and cause it to crack or peel. If your skin does get red and itchy, keep the area dry and put an antiseptic or petroleum jelly to keep it clean and moist.
Wear loose clothes and lay off on the sex for a couple of days. A warm bath can also allow E.Coli bacteria to make its way up the urinary tract- which will then result in a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Vagina Care Mistake #7: You're Using Dirty Loofahs & Wash Cloths
Basically, if you want your vagina to be clean, then whatever you are using to clean it should be clean as well. Keeping the wash clothes and loofahs you are using to clean your vagina in the shower can accumulate mold, without you knowing. Wash them often or replace them regularly.
Vagina Care Mistake #8: You're Douching
Douching is an internal vaginal rinse that is supposed to “clean out” your vaginal canal. As we know now, your vaginal canal cleanses itself alright.
What douching does is mess up the natural pH balance of your vagina and flushing out the good bacteria that maintain your vaginal health. Also, it can push unwanted bacteria further up your vaginal canal, which can lead to an infection.
If you are experiencing unpleasant vaginal odours and think douching is the solution, it is not. Douching only masks the scent and makes it worse. Visit a doctor to find out the actual cause.
Vagina Care Mistake #9: You Forget To Pee After Sex
Cleansing your vagina the correct way may be as simple as peeing after sex. Urinating flushes out bacteria that your body does not need, specifically in the urethra, from where the urine comes out from. Peeing after sex is especially crucial as the bacteria inside could cause a UTI. If left untreated, the infection can travel up into your kidneys!
Vagina Care Mistake #10: You're Cleaning It Too Often
Cleaning is good, but cleaning your vagina more than once a day can actually have the opposite effect. Cleaning your vagina too much washes away the good bacterial that maintains your vaginal health, without giving it time to rebalance and replenish. Just stick to one full-clean per day.
Not convinced? Unlike the skin on your face or body, the vulva rarely (if not never) sees the light of day. This means that it’s not exposed to environmental factors like UV rays and pollution. Instead, since most of us don’t go commando, your vulva is in constant contact with your undergarment of choice, plus the heat and dampness that exist.
If you think of it this way, there really isn’t much need to deep cleanse or detox the area. All you have to do is to keep the area clean and dry (moistness enables yeast to thrive), so be sure to change out of gym clothes after a workout session.
Vagina Care Mistake #11: You're Spending Way Too Much Time In The Shower
Especially for those who are prone to yeast or UTIs, it is best not to get comfy in a bath for too long, or even hang out in your wet bathing suit for long. While a warm bath might be soothing, it also makes your vagina more prone to a yeast infection.
READ MORE: 10 Personal Hygiene Mistakes You Never Even Knew You Were Making