Originally written and published by Erica Howard, WHNP in May 2019
Summer in the south brings out all sorts of skin issues due to the hot and humid climate, accompanied by excess moisture and, well, certain discomforts that can occur “down there.”
But don’t fret; we’re here to provide some helpful tips on how to prevent bikini line snafus, vaginal discomfort, and other summer skin conundrums in 2019!
Let’s start with vaginal health.
What Is Vaginitis?
Summer months bring increased humidity and moisture, which can lead to the development of vaginitis for some women. Check out our post on vaginal infection or irritation by Dr. Kalinowski.
The vagina is an ideal host for yeast, also called Candida, due to the dark, warm, and moist environment where candida thrives. Symptoms of a yeast infection include thick white discharge, often described as “cottage cheese-like,” redness, and significant itching.
How To Prevent Yeast Infections
Preventing excess moisture is the key to warding off yeast infections. If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors, this can be tough. I recommend wearing cotton panties – they don’t trap moisture and are more likely to help keep you dry.
Next, change into dry undergarments as soon as you have an opportunity to do so, and avoid using scented vaginal hygiene products. Less is more when it comes to vaginal health: Think of the vagina as a self-cleaning oven. Use only water and unscented soap to wash (my recommendation: Dove Sensitive Skin soap).
The use of scented hygiene products can lead to another form of vaginitis, called Bacterial Vaginosis (commonly referred to as “B.V.”) due to shifts in vaginal pH. B.V. symptoms commonly include thin, foul-smelling discharge and vaginal burning discomfort. If you think you may have Vaginitis, schedule a visit with your provider at Kamm McKenzie for evaluation and treatment.
How To Reduce Skin Irritation During Hair Removal
Another big cause of summer skin woes: hair removal in the bikini area. Whatever your preferred method of landscaping is, be sure to follow these important steps to prevent redness, irritation, bumps, and ingrown hairs.
Shaving is probably the most popular means of hair removal in the bikini area. It’s convenient and does not require significant amounts of time or extra cost to maintain. It’s also the most likely method to cause skin irritation in the way of razor burn, bumps, or ingrown hairs.
Each time you shave, surrounding healthy skin is “injured” along with the hair that is removed by the razor, which increases susceptibility for bacterial introduction in the area. Using a new razor every 1-2 times you shave, shaving WITH the grain of the hair, and exfoliating the area can all help to reduce irritation.
Choosing a razor with a close shave can also decrease irritation. I recommend razors with 4 or 5 blades, and men’s razors in particular. If you think about it – men’s razors are designed for use on the face, which is highly sensitive. So why not use one to shave the bikini area as well?
Two important steps after shaving include exfoliating and moisturizing.
Choose a gentle exfoliator for the bikini area after shaving, such as Dove soap, and a soft cloth. Again, think less is more here, and exfoliate only every few days. Be sure to apply a soothing moisturizer after shaving as well, and think unscented. Lotions with colloidal oatmeal (like Aveeno) are good choices due to the soothing skin properties.
Tips For Waxing
If you prefer waxing, similar tenets apply to after-hair removal skin care. Exfoliate with a gentle product afterwards, and apply super-soothing moisturizer. If you experience inflammation after either shaving or waxing, you can apply a thin layer of over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream mixed with your moisturizer twice a day to decrease redness and inflammation.
The last thing I’ll mention about hair removal is this: Choosing not to remove hair in the bikini area is also perfectly acceptable!
Hair grows down there for a reason, which means there is absolutely no reason to feel pressure to remove it if that’s not your thing. When it comes to landscaping the bikini area, choose what aligns with your personal preferences and your skin. If you develop skin irritation that does not resolve with proper follow-up care at home, be sure to schedule a visit with your provider at Kamm McKenzie for further evaluation to determine the best management approach.
Enjoy the summer!