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Private parts hygiene: A delicate issue

The importance of maintaining good hygiene in the intimate areas of the body cannot be emphasised enough.

This is a topic seldom spoken in public and most people are uncomfortable discussing it even with their friends. But hygiene of private parts is a serious matter and it must be given the same time and consideration that we give to the hygiene of the rest of our bodies. It is an issue that every person – man, woman or child – must take seriously because it can have implications on one’s overall health.

When the private parts are not cleaned regularly, a sticky white substance called smegma starts collecting. It is a natural secretion by the body and it must be cleaned off every day. While some amount of smegma in the region will cause no harm, days of smegma accumulation will certainly cause some issues. Apart from causing itching and swelling, smegma also becomes a hotbed of bacterial infection.

Then, there are infections that are caused either by ingesting antibiotics (which may cause hormonal imbalances and result in bodily secretions), short term illness or too much sugar in the diet. These result in secretions that emit a foul odour and make the intimate areas itchy. They must be checked by a doctor and examined for signs of a deeper malaise.

However, basic private parts hygiene must be followed, hence:

For children. Every time you give your children a bath, instruct them to wash their private parts with mild soap and water (a soap like Dettol Skin Care bar soap is best). Do not do this yourself – teach your children that only they can touch their pubic area and buttocks. Teach them the process step by step: Start by saying, “Take the soap in your hand, now work up a lather,” then go on to teach them to apply the soap on their private parts and then washing clean with water. Hand them a clean towel and ask them to wipe the area dry before wiping the rest of the body. When the time for taking showers alone finally arrives, your children will know how to clean themselves properly to maintain good hygiene of the private parts.

For women. Women experience menstruation and vaginal discharge, so it is vital to keep their intimate areas clean and dry. A lot of women use vaginal washes during their bath but these must be used only on doctor’s instructions and only if there are no cervical or vaginal infections already present. Cleaning the labia and vulva every day to prevent an accumulation of smegma is important. Women must also keep the anal opening clean so that bacterial infections do not spread to the urinary opening and the vagina. Many doctors recommend washing the private parts before and after sexual intercourse to prevent infections and to feel fresh. The Dettol Gold bar soap is best for cleaning the private areas.

For men. For most men, the simple practice of slipping back the foreskin to clean the smegma collected under it is all that is needed. If not cleaned regularly, it can cause itching, soreness and even difficulty in pulling the foreskin back. Use of soap and water to clean the private parts is sufficient. Some men might experience boils and rashes on their private parts after sex – these could be a sign of a localised infection (such as thrush) or an STD picked up from the sexual partner. Hence, it is a good practice to wear a condom during sex and to wash off the penis afterward.