Dr. Cynthia Wesley (aka Dr. Cyn) is a board-certified OBGYN with over 16 years of experience and a vulvar skin expert. Dr. Cyn is passionate about vulvar care, hygiene, and grooming. She will share her tips for grooming with vulvar Lichen Sclerosus.
I learned so much in this episode, and I hope you do as well. Be sure to scroll to the resources section for all of Dr. Cyn’s information, including her social media, which you will definitely want to subscribe to. Dr. Cyn does Facebook and Instagram lives every Thursday, and they are informative and fun!
Using the Bathroom with Lichen Sclerosus – Tips From an Expert
Before jumping into vulvar grooming with Lichen Sclerosus, Dr. Cyn starts with the basics – going to the bathroom, of course!
Recommendation #1: Because the skin of the vulva is more sensitive and prone to tearing and fissures, Dr. Cyn recommends using a bidet. Importantly, you do not have to redo your whole bathroom for this. There are attachments available on the market that you can easily attach to your toilet.
Recommendation #2: If you cannot get a bidet or bidet attachment, Dr. Cyn recommends using a peri bottle after voiding.
Recommendation #3: Use toilet paper to dry and not wipe.
All of these are preventative in helping reduce the risk of tears or fissures, all while keeping the vulvar skin clean and healthy. Furthermore, these recommendations also help if you have active tears or fissures as they are less abrasive than wiping with toilet paper.
Using Moisturizers to Take Care of the Vulva
Grooming and hygiene habits for the vulva should include regular use of vulvar moisturizer/emollient. Watch this video to learn the difference between a moisturizer and a barrier cream.
With respect to a good moisturizer, Dr. Cyn recommends coconut oil or olive oil as cheap options that work well.
Additionally, Dr. Cyn released an amazing line of products for vulvar care and grooming, including vulvar moisturizers – these products are custom-made for the vulva and use only the best quality ingredients for healthy skin. Click this link to join the waitlist for when her line is officially launched to the public.
Dr. Cyn’s Advice on Using Vulvar Moisturizers
Unfortunately, we can never truly predict which moisturizer will be a good fit for you. This is why it is important to test out a small amount of the product before applying it to the whole vulva. Dr. Cyn recommends testing on the mons pubis first.
Taking Care of Basic Hygiene for Lichen Sclerosus – Recommendations from an Expert
With respect to showering, Dr. Cyn recommends the following to wash your vulva:
-A washcloth made for babies as it is gentle enough for those with LS.
-Mittens you put on babies so they don’t scratch their face.
-Your fingers. However, be mindful that your nails are trimmed so you do not accidentally scratch or tear your skin while washing.
Avoid using things like regular washcloths and loofahs that are too abrasive for the skin.
If you opt for a cloth option, ensure you rinse it out properly after use and hang it to dry. Do not use it for more than 3 wash cycles.
Which Soap Should You Wash With?
When it comes to soap, Dr. Cyn says for most folks, parabens, and sulfates are safe to use. If you know you cannot tolerate these ingredients, make sure to avoid them. Furthermore, Dr. Cyn has a saying when it comes to shopping for a personal wash,
Flip it before you pick it.
Essentially, it boils down to being mindful and choosing ingredients that nourish the skin such as aloe vera and vanilla. Dr. Cyn will be launching her line of vulvar products, and it will include a vulvar wash, so stay tuned for that and get on her waitlist to get notified when they launch because I’m sure her products will be amazing!
With respect to PH, Dr. Cyn notes companies are not held to any monitoring standard with respect to PH. If you are concerned about the PH of your vagina, you can buy strips to test your PH level which should be around 4.5 or so.
What About Baths?
Baths are completely safe for folks with Lichen Sclerosus. However, Dr. Cyn recommends no more than about 15-20 minutes of soaking. If you like to add salts or a bubble bath, Dr. Cyn says there is no problem for the most part, however, encourages you to, again, “flip it before you pick it” and be mindful of known irritates such as cinnamon.
The Downlow on Taking Care of the Hair Down There with Lichen Sclerosus
Now, to the fiery questions, I know many of my listeners want to know about grooming. Many of us with Lichen Sclerosus wonder how to take care of the hair down there. What methods are safe for our Lichen Sclerosus, what should we avoid, etc., and Dr. Cyn has laid it all out for us.
List of Grooming Methods from Best to Worst
The following is a list of grooming methods from the best methods to the worst. I will elaborate on each method, according to Dr. Cyn’s information.
- Leave it alone.
- Laser hair removal.
- Cream depilatory.
- Electric trimmer.
- Razor blade shaving.
Grooming Methods Elaborated
Leave It Alone
The best thing to do with respect to your pubic hair, especially if you have Lichen Sclerosus, is to leave it alone. In other words, do not remove the pubic hair. If it bothers you, it's perfectly okay to trim it back until you're comfortable.
However, Dr. Cyn acknowledges that it is important to many people with vulvas to groom and/or remove all or parts of the pubic hair. Accordingly, there are other options, such as laser hair removal and cream depilatories that are good grooming/hair removal options.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is a great option for grooming and removing the hair on the private face, as Dr. Cyn likes to call the vulva. After a few sessions, the hair will cease to grow back or will grow back very lightly, meaning in the future, you won’t need to worry much about grooming at all. Ideally, Dr. Cyn recommends you are not in an active Lichen Sclerosus flare and that you not be menstruating (because you will be more sensitive to the pain – I personally can attest to this being very true).
Another good option for grooming and removing pubic hair is using cream depilatories.
There is a multitude of options on the market and these are another safe option for vulvar skin. Dr. Cyn does have a cream depilatory that will launch, and it’s great for coarse and curly hair and protective of the vulvar skin.
Electric trimmers fall somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of best to worst grooming methods. Dr. Cyn recommends making sure the trimmer has a sharp blade. Furthermore, be careful when using it to make sure you do not knick the skin.
Sugaring also falls in the middle with respect to hair removal. This is the ancient Egyptian method of removing body hair. It involves a past comprised of sugar, lemon, and water. Then, the paste is rolled into a ball and then applied to the hairs in the opposite direction, but removed in the same direction of the hair growth. Furthermore, it increases the chances that they will remove the entire follicle and it has the added benefit that sugar is a natural exfoliator.
When it comes to grooming, many turn to waxing. However, waxing isn’t the best hair removal option, especially with Lichen Sclerosus. Of course, you do not want to go waxing if you are in an active flare, but it may be best to avoid altogether with Lichen Sclerosus as it can be quite damaging to the skin.
If you must wax, Dr. Cyn recommends finding a professional that uses an oil that is placed on the skin prior to waxes. This allows them to remove the hair while protecting the skin. Furthermore, an after-balm should be used to help calm and soothe the skin.
However, Dr. Cyn cautions waxing and sugaring can cause trauma to the skin that can be especially problematic for Lichen Sclerosus.
Shaving With Razor Blades
When it comes to Lichen Sclerosus and grooming, shaving with razor blades is the worst method. This is especially true if you use a razor with multiple blades.
If you do shave or want to shave, Dr. Cyn gives the following advice. Make sure the skin is warm and clean. Afterward, be sure to use a good shave gel, preferably one with Aloe Vera.
Additionally, you want to make sure you use a calming ointment or lotion on the skin afterward.
Final Words from a Vulvar Skin Expert – Bonus Tips
Clothing: It is best when possible to wear loose-fitting clothing.
Swimming: Do you linger in your wet swimsuit when you are done?
Underwear: Try and find 100% silk underwear. Of course, know that silk is less breathable than cotton, so you may sweat more. However, they are less abrasive and more soft than cotton. Avoid tight g-strings and thongs.
And finally, when possible, sleep commando and let your private face breathe!
Period Care and Lichen Sclerosus
Conclusion on Taking Care of Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus
In sum, Dr. Cyn provided a ton of information on how to take care of your vulvar Lichen Sclerosus. She shed light on best practices in the shower and bath, as well as vulvar grooming!
Virtual Meetup Information
Did you learn anything new from this episode? Were you already following some of these tips? Have any more you'd like to share?
Let me know! Email me or DM me at @lichensclerosuspodcast on Instagram.
Better yet, why don't you tell us at our Lichen Sclerosus Support Virtual Meetup!
We meet every other Saturday from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm Eastern Time. This is your opportunity to share your diagnosis story, what is working for you and what isn’t, and ask a question to the group. Perhaps share your experience with grooming! I have met so many incredibly strong LS warriors through these meetups, and I would love for you to join our community.
Sign up at lssupportnetwork.org/connect or click the button below for notifications and updates! I cannot wait to meet you.
Or if you're looking for deeper connection and education, check out our LSSN Membership. A positive safe space with people who understand what you're going through. Learn to conquer this condition with us.
Dr. Cyn’s website: drcynobgyn.com
Dr. Cyn’s exclusive vulvar products waitlist: beautybelowmd.com
Pre-order Dr. Cyn’s new book here: beautybelowbook.com
Dr. Cyn’s social media: @drcynobgyn on Facebook and Instagram