Genital skin (on the vulva or the penis) is sensitive. It may react to both irritants such as soaps and a whole range of substances may cause allergy.

Washing and personal care

Avoid contact with perfumed soaps and shower gels, especially if brightly coloured and strong smelling. You may find it beneficial to start washing your hair separately to the rest of your body as hair shampoo can irritate.

If we give you Aqueous Cream BP as a soap substitute, apply it to the genital area before you step into the shower or bath, and rinse it off with non-soapy water at the end. It will leave behind a layer of moisturiser so don’t rub too harshly with the towel when drying yourself. The aqueous cream does not smell of anything and does not lather but it will cleanse and moisturise your skin.

Think about what your partner washes with as this could also make your skin sensitive.

It is important that you avoid contact with non-prescribed over-the-counter (OTC) preparations which might make your skin condition worse. Avoid contact with any perfumed products and intimate deodorants.

Further advice on genital hygiene for men and women


Wear loose-fitting underwear, cotton is best. Tight outer garments such as bicycling shorts or tight leggings can irritate the genital area. Avoid biological washing powders and fabric conditioners. These contain chemicals that may affect your skin.