Wash the vulval area once a day. Washing the external area only with warm water and soap is adequate but if your skin is dry, you may use a small amount of a soap substitute (see below). You should use your hand and avoid using flannels or sponges or over cleaning as this will irritate the skin. Use a soft towel to gently dab the area dry.
Wash the penis everyday, making sure you slide the foreskin back towards your body so the head of the penis is exposed. Wash with warm water and do not use soap as this may irritate the area, especially if there is inflammation, and is not required to clean adequately. A soap substitute may be used (see below). After washing, make sure the head of the penis is completely dry before replacing the foreskin. If you are prone to developing symptoms after sex, it may help to wash the penis shortly after having sex.
Aqueous cream, Hydromol, E45 and Dermol can be used as soap substitutes and E45, Hydromol and Dermol can be used as moisturisers during the day. These can be bought over the counter in small tubes or larger tubs, or on prescription from your GP. It is important to find the moisturiser that suits you best. If you find that it is causing irritation, redness or burning, discontinue use and try a different moisturiser, available from your pharmacist or GP. If your skin is irritated, they can be kept in the fridge and dabbed on to cool and soothe the skin as often as you like. Even when you do not have symptoms, using a moisturiser will protect the skin and can prevent flare-ups
Remember, oil based creams can cause condoms to break!
Avoid anything that may irritate the area. For example, baby wipes, shower gels, bubble baths, deodorants, lubricants, latex condoms, hygiene sprays or wipes etc. Some over-the-counter creams including baby or nappy creams, herbal creams (e.g. tea tree oil, aloe vera) and ‘thrush’ treatments may include irritants.
Avoid fabric conditioners and biological washing powders. You may want to wash your underwear separately in a non-biological washing powder/gel.
Avoid antiseptic (as a cream or added to bath water). Wear light colours of underwear. Dark textile dyes (black, navy) may cause an allergy; if you wash new dark underwear a few times before wearing it, it will be less likely to cause a problem.
Avoid coloured toilet paper.
Avoid wearing panty liners or sanitary towels on a regular basis.
Avoid wearing nail varnish on finger nails if you tend to scratch your skin.