Vaginal hygiene: An expert guide to using an intimate wash

Written by Sumona BoseSep 17, 2020

While intimate washes are a lifestyle essential for some women, for others it’s an option they’ve only barely considered. It is true that you do not absolutely need an intimate wash as the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. But if your intimate hygiene calls for the use of an intimate wash, here’s what dermatologists need you to know before using one.

What is an intimate wash and how does it help?

According to Dr Mrunal Shah Modi, “Intimate washes help the vagina maintain its natural pH levels and help women keep their intimate areas healthy. The vaginal pH levels are often disturbed by soaps and detergents used to wash underwear and even bad eating habits. As such, intimate washes can help maintain vaginal pH and prevent irritation in the area. They also prevent odour, infections and irritation around the vaginal area caused by certain bacterial and fungal infections.”

How to choose the right intimate wash

Did you know that while your skin maintains a pH level of 5.5, the intimate area can show a number anywhere between 3.5 and 4.5? This is where the challenge of maintaining intimate hygiene comes in. And while intimate washes can help you with that, there is a prescribed way of choosing the right one.

According to Dr Monisha Aravind, “When picking an intimate wash, make sure it's a mild cleanser, hypoallergenic and consists of a neutral pH. Look for ingredients like lactic acid, glycerin, vitamin E; or a natural alternative like green tea mentioned in the label. It has to be odour neutralising and moisturising and one that does not disrupt the normal microflora. Also, do not use soap or harsh detergents which might disrupt the pH and microflora of your intimate region.”

How to use an intimate wash

Like any other skincare product, it is recommended to do a patch test before using an intimate wash. This will help determine whether you are allergic to it or not. It is also crucial to note that intimate washes should always be used in the external part of the vaginal area. Do not use intimate washes as a douche as a) it is not necessary and b) it can cause harm to your vagina’s natural microbiome.

Take a small quantity of the intimate wash in your hand and lather it up. Use it during toilet usage or showering, apply gently and rinse with clean water. Pat the area dry.

As mentioned before, intimate washes can be an added step in your intimate hygiene routine, so be careful not to overdo it. Overuse of intimate washes can cause dryness and irritation in your intimate area.

Precautions to take while using intimate washes

If you choose to use an intimate wash, you must do so with care. According to Dr Niketa Sonavane, “You should never use an intimate wash to treat bad odour, itching or excessive secretion from the vagina. These are signs of infection. Vaginal washes do not solve these problems. You should visit a dermatologist or a gynaecologist for the correct treatment.”

She further explains, “The vagina has a delicate balance of yeast and bacteria that have a natural protective function. Also, the natural secretions of the vagina have a self-cleansing role. Vaginal washes can sometimes disrupt this healthy balance and increase your chances of getting infections. Besides this, I have seen women develop Irritant Contact Dermatitis on their private parts because of them.

” She recommends washing with a soap-free, pH-neutral body wash on a day-to-day basis. It is enough if you do this once or twice daily while showering. During menses, you may wash with an organic baby wash while changing your sanitary pad.

“Also, wash with plain water and pat the area dry each time you pee,” suggests Dr Niketa for a happy and healthy intimate region!