Menstruation is one of the most integral aspects of every woman’s life. Depending on how long you’ve been menstruating, your period habits are somewhat perfected with time. Yet regardless of age, you probably have some questions about menstruation that you haven’t found the answers to. This Menstrual Hygiene Day, we got Dermatologists Dr Soma Sarakar and Dr Mrunal Shah Modi to clear the air about them. So stop googling how to manage your periods and let the experts guide you. Also, we got them to answer your most pressing period questions, so scroll on.
- How to maintain menstrual hygiene
- Common menstrual hygiene mistakes
- Why does my skin break out just before my period?
- How do issues like PMS, PCOS and PCOD affect the skin and hair?
- Is it advisable to wax just before or during your period?
- What diet to follow during my period to keep my skin glowing?
- What are some misconceptions that women need to stop believing about menstrual hygiene?
How to maintain menstrual hygiene
For a healthy, hygienic period, it’s important to pay attention to the details.
- Wear non-allergic and disposable cotton pads and stay away from anything synthetic, undergarments included. Also make sure to avoid reusable cloth pads.
- Take a bath twice a day and wash the vaginal area with water each time you use the washroom.
- Trim your pubic hair (or keep it completely shaved) before your period starts to avoid any odour.
- Try and wear loose clothing as it helps prevent friction dermatitis between the inner thighs.
Common menstrual hygiene mistakes
When it comes to menstrual hygiene, regardless of age, women tend to make some very common mistakes.
- Leaving the tampon inside for too long can lead to toxic shock syndrome, a dangerous infection that spreads in the bloodstream. Make sure to change your tampon every four hours.
- Washing too roughly can disrupt the vaginal pH balance making you more vulnerable to yeast and bacterial vaginosis. Use soap and water to clean the area and be gentle.
- Repurposing soiled underwear can cause infections.
Why does my skin break out just before my period?
Period acne is pretty straightforward. Your periods come with many hormonal changes. There is a drop in progesterone levels and a rise in estrogen levels. This causes the sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum, clogging pores and causing pimples.
Hormonal acne flares up around the time of periods subside on their own after your period has ended. They usually appear in the jawline, upper neck and chin area. They take the form of painful cysts as compared to comedones in regular acne. You can hardly see whiteheads or blackheads, thus, their treatment is more about regulating hormones rather than topical solutions.
How do issues like PMS, PCOS and PCOD affect the skin and hair?
Issues like Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) have wide-ranging effects on your skin and hair.
PCOD and PCOS can lead to a variety of skin problems ranging from acne to dull skin and pigmentation. Acanthosis nigricans – hyperpigmented thickening of the skin on the neck and armpits due to weight gain - is a direct effect of these issues. You might also spot pigmented patches around the mouth area.
Hair fall is very common with hormonal abnormalities. Hirsutism – excess facial hair, pubic hair, and hair around the nipple area and underarms - is seen in many women. You might also suffer from thinning of hair, dry and brittle texture, widening of the midline partition of hair, and an oily or greasy scalp.0
Is it advisable to wax just before or during your period?
During your period, the body produces prostaglandin, which can make the skin more sensitive to pain. That is why waxing is a complete no-no before or during periods. If adequate hygiene is not maintained, it can also cause rashes. Go for a less painful option like shaving (with a disposable razor), or save your waxing appointment for after your period is done.
What diet to follow during my period to keep my skin glowing?
Diet is very important for your skin and hair, irrespective of period days. Limit your intake of salt, sugar, spicy and oily foods, junk food, processed food, alcohol and caffeine. Pay attention to the timing of your meals; for instance, an early dinner will help ease bloating and belching. Try eating a gluten-free diet and increase fluid intake during your period.
When it comes to foods to eat during periods, there are a few star players. Food rich in omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants like eggs, nuts, cereals, whole grain bread, carrots, spinach and berries do wonders for the skin.
What are some misconceptions that women need to stop believing about menstrual hygiene?
Women in Indian society have been handed down a bunch of false ideas when it comes to menstruation. Here are two of them.
- Women shouldn’t indulge in daily activities like cooking or routine work because it could “contaminate” the kitchen or food. The belief that period blood is impure, and thus make the woman untouchable during this time, is utter nonsense.
- Menstrual odour is normal and thus, you don’t need to keep changing your sanitary pads. This is untrue. Using a sanitary pad for more than six hours at a time can lead to infection, or worse.