Home
   
Receive Updates Via
facebook twitter subscribe to our newsletter rss feed
 

Why You Shouldn't Use Soap on Your Private Parts

Over the years, I have found that many people aren't aware that soap should not be used to clean the vaginal opening, the tip of the penis (urethral opening), or the anal sphincter.

Regularly applying soap to these areas can cause the mucosal lining in these areas to become dry and unhealthy. A chronically dry mucosal lining can lead to a number of uncomfortable health conditions, such as anal fissures, lichen sclerosus, chronic inflammation, and a tendency to experience infections.

If you use soap to clean your body, you should limit its contact to your skin. Your skin is lined with sebaceous glands that secrete an oily substance called sebum, which serves to keep your skin waterproof and resistant to infection by undesirable microorganisms.

Typically, the presence of sebum prevents soap from drying out skin to a point where significant health challenges can arise. Still, unless you work with grease and oil, it's best to use soap sparingly - just enough to remove objectionable odors and to feel clean and refreshed.

The mucosal linings of the vaginal opening, the penile opening, and the anal sphincter don't secrete sebum to offer protection against the drying effects of soap. Actually, the labia minora does contain some sebaceous glands, but in most women, there aren't nearly enough sebaceous glands in this region to keep the vaginal opening healthy if regularly washed with soap.

So how do you wash the vaginal opening, the penile opening, and the anal sphincter? Ideally, with warm or hot water. And when more intense cleaning is desired, you can use warm or hot salt water.

I've worked with enough people who have experienced health challenges from using soap in the private areas to know that this advice is worth heeding. Please share this information with family and friends, as my experiences have led me to believe that most people aren't aware of this issue.

Addendum on November 9, 2008:

This health tip is especially important for parents whose children are still young enough to require help with bathing. I've encountered a number of cases where regular use of soap on the mucosal linings in a child's private areas has created chronic irritation, almost always with the parent(s)and child involved being unaware of this connection.

In my opinion, avoiding soap when cleaning a child's private areas is essential guidance that all new parents should receive, as infants and some toddlers can't clearly signal discomfort in these areas, and in many such cases, I suspect that the source of the child's discomfort is never identified.

Addendum on October 6, 2009:

From Our Mailbag:

Good morning Dr. Kim,

One quick question with respect to Dr. Ohhira's Probiotic Soap - In the back of my mind when I was reading (about it) was your mention in an article some time back about avoiding the use of soaps on private parts, so my question is:

Can this soap be used over the ENTIRE body (from head to toe) without exception? I would appreciate clarification on this.

Susan S.
Canada
---

Dear Susan,

Though Dr. Ohhira's probiotic soap is more mild than the vast majority of commercial bar soaps on the market, I still don't recommend using it regularly on the anal sphincter area or so that it comes into regular contact with the inner walls of the vagina or the urethra in males and females.

(The urethra is the tube through which urine exits the body.)

These areas have specialized mucosal linings that shouldn't be dried out with any type of soap - warm or hot water is all that should be used in these areas.

The rest of one's private areas can be washed with soap without ill effects. It's the mucosal lining that is inside of the areas mentioned above that should be protected.

If the anal sphincter is washed with a mild soap, then one can apply some natural moisturizer to this area right after washing - coconut oil or something similar works well for this purpose. In fact, for clients who are suffering with an anal fissure, I regularly recommend application of coconut oil to the anal sphincter three or more times a day.

I hope this helps.

Ben Kim

 
 

To receive newly published articles and recipes like this one, stay in touch with us via

facebook twitter subscribe to our newsletter rss feed
Please Rate This
Your rating: None
Average: 4.5 (190 votes)
 

Related Posts

 
 

I mainly do not use soap

I mainly do not use soap down there because I am Extremely prone to yeast infections. And I have not noticed any offensive smells in this area since doing this, and I wear alot of tight fitting stretchy pants to work and around the house. And I also cleans 2X per day, and after I work out 5 days per week.

Genital washing.

This is a very good article and I wish all parents of babies and children would read it. Excessive washing of the penis of male babies & small children results in severe irritation which is subsequently cured by...wait for it...circumcision!

Oh, if only all parents had access to Dr. Kim's common sense approaches!

Over-washing and wearing

Over-washing and wearing tight fitting clothing can cause more infections. The vagania has good bacteria that fight off the bad bacteria and over-washing will get rid of them faster. A good probiotic will help restore good bacteria, putting good quality yogurt down there works too.

I agree I had some problems

I agree I had some problems with itching and dryness for months and one dab of yogurt that I used 2 times gave immediate relief and I have not had any further issues for a while now. Cheaper and better for you than over the counter products.

UTI infections

I just had surgery for a rectocele. It was repaired ten days ago, I'm doing well. Unfortunately I managed to get a UTI three days after surgery and have been on antibiotics 8 days now. two days to go! When I went to see my fabulous colo/rectal surgeon, she said I was doing well. I know this question was not in her department, but I asked her if she had any idea of how I could prevent these frequent UTI's, I get, two or three a year. She said, "Are you overly clean down there?" My husband was also in the office and he said, "is she ever! We have a bidet and she washes with soap and water a lot!" (My thinking was I only used a quart of soap, better use a gallon, kill those nasty e coli!) The surgeon said, "STOP!!" No soap. No soap ever!! I said "for the rest of my life?" She said "yes!" Never, ever use soap. I asked her about the anal area!! "No soap there either! Only water. Water will clean you fine!!" I have had the hardest time not using it, but I have been following her advice 3 days now. Seems so strange. Happy to see this article, this is helpful.
Since I can't use it "down there!" I have also scrubbed in the shower with just water on the rest of my body.
So, do you really think this will help me keep from getting the UTI's? Incidentally she put me on very powerful probiotics. I started to take them yesterday, but see that I should wait until I am finished with the antibiotic. At $49.95 a bottle of 60, don't want to waste them. Thanks!

Probiotic for UTI

Arlene, would you mind giving the name of the probiotic your doctor suggested? Thanks

probiotic

Sorry it took me so long, didn't see your question until just now.
She suggested VSL#3, high potency probiotic Medical Food, must be used under medial supervision according to the package. However, you don't need a prescription for it!
I ordered it from my Walgreen's pharmacist, they had to order it and it must be refrigerated. They don't keep it in stock for that reason.
a packet contains 450 billion live lactic acid bacteria. It comes in capsules as well as caplets.

I don't know if it will help my frequent UTI's or not, I am hopeful. I just don't get why some women get these all the time.

Interstitial Cystitis?

My sister-in-law suffered from frequent UTI's. After many years of suffering with this, she finally found that she really has Interstitial Cystitis.

"IC can be easily confused with many different bladder diseases, such as a UTI, because the symptoms of frequency, urgency and/or pain are common to most bladder conditions. In fact, many IC patients and/or their physicians may mistakenly assume that they have recurring bladder infections despite the fact that their urine cultures are usually negative."

If you suffer from frequent UTI's, you may want to ask your doctor about the possibility of having IC.

Hi Arlene, thanks for

Hi Arlene, thanks for sharing. I have recurrent irritation in the anus and I have been using soap to wash that part of my body for more than 15 years. I feel I won't be able to give up to the soap washing, would you think that instead of washing with soap, I wash with coconut oil, it will help to clean well that part and moisturize it too?

Fabric softener can be bad too

In addition avoiding soap, fabric softener, either liquid or dryer sheets even if they are perfume or dye free, can be very irritating. I always launder mine and my daughters undergarments separately so they don't get mixed in with things that do get dryer sheets. If you have unexplained irritations, this could be something to look at as well.

no-rinse cleanser

My foreskin and glands get red if I haven't washed in a day or so and to keep from using soaps I have tried a few no-rinse cleansers and some seem to help keep my glands and foreskin clean. The best is like a cleansing cream but it isn't a brand I can find in shops anywhere. I was on vacation when I bought it. I tried Baby Magic No Rinse foam but it isn't as effective in getting rid of the reddness. Cetaphil seems to be the least effective one I have tried.

Personal Cleaning

Surprised that a bidet/istinjah has never been recommended. In Europe/Middle East, that means thoroughly rinsing ones privates with water after urinating and/or defecating, then wiping dry. In America, many Europeans and Muslims keep small spay bottles of water in their toilets because of the lack of bidet systems. Some install portable bidets into their toilets.

If you want to be clean, use some type of mild soap on all body parts along with a wash cloth. The mild abrasion of the soap and cotton cloth help remove dead skin, i.e. dirt. Washing alone with a little soapy scrubbie will referesh you, but will not get off the dirt. Rinse. Rinse. Rinse. Gently apply a little organic oil (olive, argan, jojoba, Hot Six) of your choice to the lady and man parts if you find your skin gets very dry.

You will see an amazing difference in your health and personal comfort if you follow this very simple hygiene rule.

Bladder infections

For 30 years or more, I had frequent bladder infections about every 6 weeks, always on antibiotics. Three years ago I read about D-Mannose, which is concentrated cranberry powder I read. I use 1/3 tsp. per day in a glass of water, it has no taste at all, and is very reasonable in cost. I get it a health food store or online. I buy the pure powder, with no other ingredients, but the D-Mannose. It has been over three years since I had an infection. My friends use it just when they have an infection. I use it as a precaution.

 

More Natural Health Resources

Professional Grade Target Formulas

Artisana Organic Butters