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More on Keeping Your Mucous Membranes Healthy

Just wanted to elaborate on this topic to address some of the more common questions that I've received in response to my post on why you shouldn't use soap to clean your anus or urethral opening.

Mucous membranes line the following areas of your body:

  • Anus
  • Urethra (where your urine comes out of)
  • Lips and oral cavity
  • Middle ear region
  • Nasal passageway
  • Eyelids

The mucous membranes that line each of these regions are continuous with your skin. All of your mucous membranes line areas of your body that are exposed to the outside world and/or internal organs.

Can you imagine washing your mouth out with soap every morning? How about your nasal passageways or the undersides of your eyelids? Assuming that you've tasted soap by accident at some point in your life, I trust that you agree that soap and mucous membranes aren't a good match.

Mucous membranes are not meant to come into regular contact with soap, or for that matter, any detergents that are hydrophobic enough to dissolve nonpolar molecules of grease (excuse the jargon from high school chemistry).

Your skin can handle some contact with soap because sebaceous glands that line your skin secrete a steady supply of sebum, an oily substance that helps create a waterproof barrier and protect you against infection. Constant production of sebum allows your skin to survive regular exposure to soap, though excessive use of soap (and all factors that contribute to dehydration of your body) necessitate use of moisturizers to prevent your skin from becoming too dry.

Your mucous membranes don't produce and secrete sebum to offer protection against the drying effects of soap and detergents. This is why regular contact with soap can cause a wide variety of health challenges in and around your mucous membranes, some of the more common challenges being cracks around the corners of the lips, anal fissures, lichen sclerosus, and a tendency to experience recurrent infections around mucous membranes.

My experience has been that very few people know to avoid using soap to wash their private areas. So I make it a point to share this information with just about all of my clients, especially those who have young children to care for.

All parents and grandparents know that in cleaning a baby that has pooped in his or her diaper, the instinct is to use soapy water to thoroughly clean the entire groin region, especially the perineum and anal sphincter. Unless these areas are being moisturized with a non-toxic moisturizer after every such cleaning, it's almost a certainty that itchiness, dryness, and/or chronic inflammation will ensue. I believe that this is the main reason why so many babies and toddlers instinctively scratch at their anal sphincters - they are itchy from excessive dryness.

For adults, young children, and babies alike, the best cleaning agent for private areas is warm or hot water, and if needed, a small towel that has enough texture to help remove waste and grime.

If you're out and about and have to clean a poopy bum, moist wipes are an effective cleaning solution that shouldn't lead to excessive dryness.

Since we're on this topic, one other bit of advice to parents and grandparents: Don't take it for granted that your children instinctively know to wipe from front to back after a pee or poo. You must teach them to always wipe from front to back to minimize the risk of having bacteria from the rectal region create a urinary tract infection. Though more common in girls because of the difference in anatomy, it's not unheard of for a boy to experience a urinary tract infection due to "back to front" wiping.

Wipe from front to back after pee or poo. Write it on the kitchen board or better yet, on a sticky that's posted by every toilet used by your youngsters until it's habit.

Please share this information with family and friends who may not be aware of these tips on self health care.

 
 

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Questions

Great article and thanks for sharing. I use pure Castile Soap, have used it for years. How do you feel about that for cleaning the body?

Also I am not a big fan of toxic soaps but feel that for sanitary purposes it is good to clean your "critical" areas with something other than water. I am a big fan of peroxide. How would you feel about using that as a cleansing agent for those areas?

Thanks and keep up the great work

I use pure Castile soap as

I use pure Castile soap as well for my body which I find much less irritating than typical soaps as it is organic and does not seem to dry out the skin as much; however peroxide seems extreme and unnecessary. Unless you have some type of infection, which in any case should be treated according to its specific needs and by recommendation from a professional, washing with anything (as stated by this article) is unnecessary. I don't know why you would want to use an antiseptic/bleach in your private areas. It will probably only end up being painful.

Using peroxide is way too

Using peroxide is way too dangerous on a mucus membrane! The mucus membrane areas are very, very delicate. Peroxide is very harsh. As you know, it bleaches areas. Do you really want to pour a form of bleach around there? A very light, mild soap is fine, but mild is the key word. If you wouldn't put it in your eye, consider the other areas also. Especially if one is a female. The intimate female area in particular should not be subjected to peroxide, alcohol, baking soda, salt, or sugar. It is self cleaning, but water can be used if necessary, such as certain discharge, to prevent a yeast infection.

not using soaps

It's my understanding that one of the best alternative
To using soap on the private areas is plain white vinegar provided that regular warm water is not enough as it doesn't irritate the mucus membrane and also takes care of any odors. I am curious as to why there was no mention of this in any of the readings

What do you think of spraying

What do you think of spraying 3% solutation of Hydrogen Peroxide on your toilet tissue to wipe yourself? I used to get bladder infections all the time and since I started doing this 7 years ago I have not had a bladder infection?

Using soap

Dr. Ben:
Have you ever heard of brushing your teeth with bar soap? I have been doing that for many years and it's been very good for me. I haven't had any problems with my teeth since I started using soap. I make my own soap...from lard and lye and after it "cures" I grate it and put it in a dark glass container.
It works wonderfully well to clean your teeth and gets rid of lots of bacteria, etc.

Anyway, I am "experimenting" with NOT using soap on the private areas...just to see what happens...

I think you are great, you know that. Thanks for sharing your ideas and advice and your life with us.

Leslee

Tooth Soap in oral cavity

I have been using your tooth soap for brushing my teeth. Does the information in this article apply to tooth soap as well.
Thanks

I've found that some folks

I've found that some folks who are quite sensitive to the effects of soap experience a burning sensation when they use tooth soap. If this applies to you, it's best that you don't use it.

Even for folks who use tooth soap, which I feel is quite an effective cleansing agent, if there are any signs of discomfort, I think it makes sense to use it only once every other day.

At the end of the day, you have to observe how your body reacts to everything it's exposed to, and make adjustments if necessary.

Hope this helps.

keeping mucuous membranes healthy

you say "front to back". I was ALWAYS taught (since I'm a girl), from midpoint forward (for urination), and midpoint backward(for defecation).

The front to back if taken literally can cause irritation in girls, as my pediatrician instructed me.

After having a bowel

After having a bowel movement, front to back refers to the front of the anal sphincter to the back of the anal sphincter.

After urinating, front to back refers to the region surrounding the urethra - this can be done from the front side of the toilet, while the front to back action for cleaning after bowel movements is most conveniently done from the back side of the toilet.

Hope this helps.

Wiping yourself.

When your bowel movements are exactly as they should be - that's nearly none of us, I'm sure - you will not need to wipe at all, as the feces have a sort of natural (invisible) clear membrane around them. This is the idea of Andreas Moritz, health writer. Strangely, or not so strangely, 30 years ago, when I was eating a real health-food diet, I experienced this for a few years. I'm now post-menopause and not so perfect in this area any more!

Awesome

Thank you so much! I will experiment with this as I do use castile soap but will give the no soap a try. I actually did the opposite for my son and washed his privates and just washed his body and head with water. I will do the opposite.

You are amazing! I love every article and idea you write about. Seriously thank you for being awesome :)

Wendi<3

Soap and mucus membranes

I have to comment on this article because there is something few people think about. Your article asks whether someone would ever think of washing their mouth with soap every morning... When you brush your teeth, that is almost always what you are doing. Almost all toothpastes have a dtergent called SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate). This is a harsh detergent when it comes to exposure of mucus membranes and can cause little ulcers in the mouth. I gave up toothpaste several years ago when I finally realized the connection. A doctor had once told me that I must have some sort of herpes virus because I would occasionally get painful little pits or ulcers in my mouth. There's actually a fair amount of research showing that SDS does this but very few people know about it. I hope this knowledge will help someone else like it did me. A side note is that I tried a detergent free toothpaste that had natural peppermint oil in it and the skin on my lips peeled off- turned out that peppermint oil in high concentrations can also be bad.

 

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