They smell good, feel good and might even help you relax. But, can you really take a healthy bubble bath? OB-GYN Marcus Hemesath, DO, UnityPoint Health, says you might want to think twice about what you’re putting in your bath water to avoid a visit to your doctor.
Have you heard of bath bombs? If not, you’ve probably seen them. They are usually round and often brightly colored. Once you drop them in the warm bathtub, they dissolve. It depends on the product and the maker, but Dr. Hemesath says often bath bombs contain large amounts of chemicals and dyes to create that color, fragrance and a little fizz.
“Sometimes, these products even contain glitter, which can be difficult to wash away from the vagina, which can lead to further irritation and scratching. Then, those scratch marks and hair follicles in the area can become infected causing a secondary infection,” Dr. Hemesath says.
When comparing bath bombs, bath salts and bubble baths, Dr. Hemesath says bath bombs usually contain the largest amounts of fragrances and dyes, which would increase the likelihood of developing problems.
You may have received a gift of bath salts at some point. The little, colored pieces of salt will dissolve in the water and often give off a fragrance.
“Bath salts can lead to changes in vaginal pH levels, which can increase the likelihood of yeast infections and vaginal irritation. Generally speaking, however, there is less dye and other chemicals in bath salts than in bath bombs,” Dr. Hemesath says.
While liquid bubble bath may seem harmless, you should be cautious of even using this product during bath time.
“Even the basic bubble bath can cause vaginal irritation, if used frequently or in large volumes. In general, however, there is less dye and other chemicals in this product than in bath bombs,” Dr. Hemesath says.
Why to Avoid Bubble Bath Products
Dr. Hemesath says he commonly sees patients with vaginal irritation and infections from bubble bath products. He suspects a lot of these are due to over use of soaps and fragrances.
“These products can change the pH of the vagina and decrease the quantity of ‘good’ bacteria that lives in the vagina,” Dr. Hemesath says.
This can leave women more prone to infections, including:
“While I would recommend avoiding these products altogether, if you do choose to use one, steer clear of products with lots of color and certainly glitter,” Dr. Hemesath says.
How to Take a Healthy Bubble Bath
Dr. Hemesath offers three tips you can use, if you do want to create a safe bubble bath for women.
- Less is more. It’s ok to use small amounts of bubble bath for sensitive skin or bath salts from time to time.
- Essential oils. If a woman generally doesn’t have a problem with vaginal infections/irritation, a bath with a few drops of essential oils to create fragrance is OK.
- Watch sensitivities. Women who have sensitive skin to dyes and fragrances in other makeups and lotions are more likely to have issues when using bubble baths, bath salts and bath bombs.
If you're looking to prevent urinary tract infections and other similar issues, be conscious of your bathing habits.
“Overall, soaps, dyes, chemicals and fragrances can all be irritating and alter the vaginal pH. We recommend washing the outside of the vulva only using a mild soap, or no soap if a woman is prone to irritation. We strongly recommend against douching. The vagina cleanses itself through normal vaginal discharge and does not need to be ‘washed out,’” Dr. Hemesath says.
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