What happens when eczema strikes down there?
We’re getting more comfortable with talking about our itchy hands, itchy bodies and even itchy feet, but what about when we’re itchy… down there? Eczema and Allergy blogger Ruth Holroyd from the fantastic blog What Allergy shares her 15+ top tips for soothing genital eczema.
You will be aware of eczema and how hard it can be to live with the constant itching and soreness, but what if you get eczema down in your private regions?
Those places we don’t show in public.
Don’t talk about in public.
And certainly, don’t scratch in public!
Imagine then going to your doctor to get advice about your genital eczema...runs and hides.
It’s not something anyone would welcome but it’s quite common for some people living with the eczema. By its very nature, and being covered, it can become warm and sweaty, a breeding ground for itches and bacteria. A whole melting pot of discomfort and embarrassment.
And because we all get so embarrassed about showing that part of our bodies it can lead to undiagnosed infections and people leaving something until it gets almost unmanageable before they get help.
Why are we so shy and prudish about our nether regions? After all, we ALL have genitals!
I’ve had to get down and personal with my own eczema flare up on this most sensitive of skin and I’ve learnt a lot of things that could help so here’s just a few, from a recent blog over on my blog whatallergy.com. Most of these are for the ladies but the cleansing and washing tips will work just as well for those sensitive eczema guys out there.
- Only wash with water – no soap! Just use a soft flannel and warm water when you need to.
- Bathing – Experiment with these natural baths.
Apple Cider vinegar baths – add a cupful of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath and soak for 10-20 minutes
Tea tree oil – add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil to your bath as this also can help to avoid any infection.
Bicarbonate of Soda bath – Add about 5 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda to a warm bath and soak for 10- 20 minutes max. It will help to soothe and reduce irritation.
Colloidal oat compress and bath – oats can also be so soothing for eczema skin and can work great in the bath. You can use an old (but clean) pop sock (or cut the lower leg off a pair of thin tights) or use muslin and some string to make pouches to keep the oats in, then pop them into your bathwater or hang over the bath tap so the water runs through it. Wash and dispose of used oats and reuse the muslin / tights.
Cotton or Bamboo flannels – Use super soft flannels and wash at a basin, from front to back.
No fragranced products – avoid any perfumed or fragranced products, moisturisers and soaps, toilet roll and sanitary products when cleaning genitalia, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Air it! – At night, don’t wear any underwear. Let the area get as much air as possible to avoid it getting warm and itchy.
Only wear cotton underwear – Choose 100% cotton underwear to ensure the skin can breathe and not get over heated – which synthetic underwear can do.
Avoid sex – it goes without saying that sexual intercourse will only make this worse. If you can abstain until you’ve healed the skin you will avoid a lot of extra discomfort.
Ice – wrap an ice pack in a tea towel or cotton scarf and gently hold it between your legs for relief when it feels hot and itchy.
Try not to itch or rub too hard – It can make things much much worse but I know how impossible it is sometimes to ignore that bone deep itch. Try to do it as gently as you can.
Don’t shave down there – Keep shaving your genital region to a minimum. Trim and edge but let it grow.
Wear hold ups or stockings – If you can, wear hold ups or stockings if you’re wearing a dress or skirt it will allow less irritation and more air circulation than tights.
Try not to cross your legs – If you can avoid crossing your legs too much, you will be putting less pressure on your genitals and allowing more air and discomfort.
NB: Genital itching could be a sign of an STD. If you are too embarrassed to go to see your doctor you can make an appointment at your local STD clinic. They see people for all kinds of reasons, not just sexually transmitted, and would be able to test to make sure nothing is amiss and needs further treatment. You can also get checked out from the comfort of your own home at https://www.letsgetchecked.co.uk/
I hope some of these tips can help you and your crotches find some comfort and ultimately healing. It’s very sensitive skin down there and needs careful attention.
Finally, let's touch on nipples, no pun intended. This area can also be affected by eczema and topical steroid withdrawal and can be very painful when the skin becomes broken, split, sore and inflamed.
- Bras - Ladies, swap to wireless bras and choose soft materials. Cotton comfort sell some lovely 100% cotton bras with no latex, elastic, metal fasteners or irritating wires that dig into your skin.
- Treat the area - If they are sore, wrap those nips up – Use some gentle balm. This Organic Manuka Honey Cream would be just the thing. Moisturise and cover with lint so it doesn’t stick if there is any ooze or bleeding
- Check your soap and shampoo – nipple eczema can be triggered by a change in soap or cleansing product so make sure you check this. Choose un-perfumed and experiment with more natural products to see if this helps.
- Thrush – itchy nipples can also be caused by thrush, a common yeast infection and nothing to be too concerned about. It’s easily treatable once diagnosed with anti-fungal medications. The same also applies to the genitals for both men and women! Not all itching is eczema!
- Teabags – Use a warm red bush tea teabag to soothe the nipple area. Many herbal teas can be healing so research and try at home!
- NB: There is a rare form of cancer called Pagets Disease which can mimic nipple dermatitis so please do get this checked with your doctor if it persists or you are at all worried.
Let’s make 2022 a healthy year for our most sensitive parts. Get to know your body, don’t be shy, love it and give it some TLC your skin will thank you!
Thank you so much to Ruth for sharing her advice with such honesty and candour. Is this something you struggle with? If there is any clothing solution that you would like us to look into for you, please do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org - We will be happy to hear from you.