Women should thoroughly clean their genital area with an appropriate cleanser after bathing in a hot spring, a dermatologist said yesterday, adding that a survey showed 72 percent of Taiwanese women have experienced genital itching or irritation.
The survey — conducted by a social media platform between late November and early last month among 300 women aged between 18 and 40 — found that up to 72 percent of respondents had experienced genital itching and 51 percent had noticed a peculiar smell originating from their genital region.
The survey showed that many women have experienced genital itching more than once, with the problem occurring irregularly or regularly, for example, before menstration or during certain seasons.
The survey also showed that 52.7 percent of respondents said that they enjoyed bathing in hot springs during the winter months, with 27.3 percent saying that they bathed in hot springs more than once per month during winter.
Yang Chin-yi (楊靜宜), a dermatologist at Taipei Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that the warm and wet environment of hot springs can cause skin infections or aggravate existing wounds and fungal infections on the skin.
“Seasonal changes or the dryness of winter can trigger eczema, even around the genitals,” she said.
“If dry and fragile skin is soaked in hot water for a long time, the person might also develop eczematous dermatitis,” which will cause itching or even inflammation if scratched, she added.
“Although skin around the genitals has its self-regulating functions, using cleansers that do not further harm or cause a burden to the genital skin can help it reach a healthy, balanced condition faster,” Yang said.
She suggested that women clean their genital area with gentle and natural cleansers, such as the plant-based ingredients lauramidopropyl betaine or alkyl polyglucoside, rather than chemical compounds such as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate.
Yang said that as vaginal pH levels are usually slightly acidic, women should also look for cleansers that have a pH level of about four to avoid irritation to the genital area.
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