Aunt Vadge: I used hotel soap and now my vulva hurts

Hi Aunt Vadge, 

So I was recently at a hotel and I washed up, but I was rushing and kind of washing down there hard, and afterwards my vagina had became dry. The next day it was sore and itchy, then the itching stopped, and every time I wash or touch it, it hurts . Did I scratch myself or could it be a yeast infection due to using the hotel soap?  What can I do to stop the pain? 

Write back soon 


Dear Soapy,

That sounds uncomfortable! It sounds like you have had a reaction to the hotel soap, which is never going to be the world’s nicest soap, no matter what it says on the pretty packaging. Hotels aim for cost effective products, since soap is free. It is likely to be one of the cheapest soaps around. That means cheap ingredients, which can easily cause reactions in your delicate vulvar tissues. This is known as contact dermatitis, with the dryness, soreness and itchiness very classic symptoms.

This reaction is likely to go away over the next few days, so be very gentle with your vulva and don’t touch it. You can soothe the outside only with a light oil to keep your folds lubricated – stuck-together, dry, itchy labia can get pretty uncomfortable. When you pee, if it hurts, get a cup of warm water and let it dribble down your labia as you pee, so it mixes – and dilutes – your acidic urine. Pat dry with a soft cloth.

If the pain continues, you’ll need to go and see a doctor, since there is something more going on that you can’t treat properly at home. You’ve had a reaction, and typically these reactions just go away by themselves with no lasting damage. In future, you’ll know to take your own soap to hotels, be gentle when you wash, and don’t get any soap, ever, inside your labia. Your flesh is very delicate, and will react strongly to things it doesn’t like.

You’ll be fine!

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge


Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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