You don’t have to schedule an appointment with a specialist to get their top tips on caring for your skin down there—they’ve shared their knowledge, below.
1. You clean too well
The vulva naturally secretes thick oils that protect its delicate skin from the secretions and friction it’s exposed to on a daily basis, Rasmussen says. Scrub off those oils with harsh cleansers (think body washes or douches with dyes, fragrance, or surfactants), and your vulva will be more prone to irritation, she says. Worse, you’ll remove the good bacteria that help maintain a healthy pH and make room for odor- and infection-causing bacteria to move in.
So keep it simple and clean your vulva with warm water, by hand, then leave it be.
2. You use feminine hygiene products
Products claiming to clean, deodorize, and groom the area are best left at the drugstore, Rasmussen says. The fragrances, dyes, chemicals, preservatives, and anti-itch anesthetics they contain aren’t necessary, and can cause allergic reactions. “Vulvar skin is extra sensitive because it’s thinner than skin on other parts of the body,” she explains. ”
Also, the vulva and vagina are hormone responsive tissues, and sensitivity goes up after menopause and may increase during parts of the menstrual cycle.” All you really need? You guessed it—water, Edwards says.