When it comes to the cleanliness we think of the surroundings and then about our body. Skin & hair takes our attention first when we discuss hygiene as everyone wants to look their perfect. Whenever Females gather, they generally discuss over skin, hair & other health related problems but hardly talk about the proper hygiene required around their intimate areas.
We have always known that the vaginal area is very sensitive and is prone to infection for so many different reasons. The skin is delicate in that area and faces daily problems due to passage of urine & stools. STDs are a big issue too if the hygiene of the intimate parts is not maintained. Using unhygienic toilets say public toilets very frequently can cause a lot of damage too. Therefore the intimate area needs special care & attention. Keep that area as dry as possible and follow some simple tips to keep yourself safe & healthy.
The ideal pH level –
You may be using certain products like soaps & shower gels to keep your vaginal area clean but you should check the ingredients in these products for if they harmonize with your body’s needs. Most products contain strong fragrance and chemicals that can cause irritation in your intimate area. Some go for antiseptics that contain specific cleaning agents causing itching. All these products cause allergies/infections which can take you to serious health issues. This messes with the required pH level in the intimate area from 3.5 to 4.5. This is slightly acidic & can’t be maintained by cleaning it just with water as water has a neutral pH.
Using normal daily use soaps can damage the natural vaginal flora which can ultimately cause bacterial or fungal infections. Due to this some unpleasant problems arise like irritation, itching, abnormal discharge, odour etc. This is why it’s important to decide carefully before buying any cosmetic intimate hygiene products.
We know that air is extra humid during monsoons that causes fungal growth. We get very few chances of changing damp clothes which eventually causes serious bacterial growth. Using dermatologically tested talc (especially for intimate area) can help in the monsoons.
Myths about intimate hygiene
- Talc meant for intimate area should be used daily.
- Scrub hard to get cleaner.
- Douching regularly keeps you clean.
- Only soaps can clean this area perfectly.
The vaginal flora has got good bacteria that protects that area from infections. Soaps are alkaline in nature and may compromise the healthy vaginal bacteria. Soaps & shower gels are harsh and create an imbalance in the pH level that should be acidic in nature. The intimate area needs a gentle pH balanced cleanser that protects the vagina against growth of harmful bacteria and keeps the irritation & odour at bay.
Types of Infections
The most common infections in women are vaginal infections — so much so that most women experience its various forms at least once in a lifetime like inflammation, irritation, odour, abnormal discharge etc.
Good bacteria in the vaginal area plays a key role in maintaining the pH level. However, some things can imbalance it. These include:
- Hormonal changes
- Strong Antibiotics
- Sexual intercourse
The most common infections in the vaginal area are Yeast infections caused by a certain species of fungus known as Candida. This species grows in moist and warm environment. It multiplies quickly & causes serious vaginal infection.
Tips to maintain intimate hygiene:
- Always keep the direction of cleaning from front to back i.e. from vagina towards anus. If done vice-versa will drag bacteria from anus causing infection.
- Every time you use toilet wipe dry yourself with either cotton cloth or tissue paper, especially in monsoons.
- Public toilets are pathetic & western style public toilets can cause a lot of damage. Avoid them.
- When in the monthly cycle, change your sanitary napkin every 4-5 hours during the day.
- You should take a health plan & undergo regular check-ups from your gynaecologist as some infections don’t show symptoms causing more damage.
- See your gynaecologist immediately if you are having abnormal discharge which may be smelly, yellow/green in colour & causing you pain in the area.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your immunity in check. Your immune system protects you from such infections.
- Don’t use harsh soaps, talc or perfumes. Be gentle, don’t scrub to feel extra clean.
- Market is full of Intimate washes that claim to be vagina friendly & pH balanced. Check for ingredients before buying.
- Always wear cotton undergarments and avoid synthetic tight clothing that may cause skin irritation.