Dealing with napkin allergy

That itch down there: an ingredient present in your sanitary napkin may irritate your skin and cause rashes.

Is there such a thing as being allergic to your monthly period? Yes.

Some women complain of vaginal itchiness, rashes and redness of the vaginal area during the time of their menstruation.

The most logical explanation is not really an allergy to the menstrual blood, but allergy to the sanitary napkin.

Most commercially available sanitary pads use a chemical called methyldibromo glutaronitrile. It is a known industrial preservative. It is used in many other beauty and hygiene products.

Methyldibromo glutaronitrile is the top 9th allergy-causing chemical known to affect humans.

Other products which use this allergen are:

  • body creams
  • facial/hand lotions
  • massage oils
  • make-up
  • baby lotions
  • baby wipes/moist toilet paper
  • shampoos/conditioners
  • liquid soaps/shower gels
  • sunscreens
  • cleansers
  • other skin care products

This chemical has not been banned from use because it neither causes cancer nor any other life-threatening diseases. The best option is just to avoid the use of the above-mentioned products if you are proven to be allergic to it.

As for the need to use a sanitary pad every month, there are other alternatives worth trying:

1.  The good old reliable pasador

Although it is not commercially-available, a homemade version can be created from sewing a cloth diaper into an elongated, narrow pad. This can be used during your monthly “visit.” It is hypoallergenic, economical and reusable, plus it is environment-friendly.

2. The tampon

These are available only in some supermarkets and drugstores, usually in communities with a significant population of expats. Since the tampon is inserted inside the vaginal canal, this may be of benefit if the sensitive area is only the external vulva.

But if your vaginal mucosa is also sensitive to methyldibromo glutaronitrile, then using the tampon might cause a completely different nightmare. Imagine being itchy in that part of the body which is impossible to scratch!

3.  The menstrual cup, a new and eco-friendly alternative

It is also known by the brand names Moon Cup or Diva Cup. It is a soft, elastic, silicone plastic cup which is washable and reusable. With proper care and hygiene, it may reused for as long as five years.

Similar to the tapon, the soft cup is inserted into the vaginal canal and removed, washed and reinserted every 6 to 8 hours depending on how strong the menstrual flow is. It is not yet available in the local market but it may be ordered online.

Prices vary from US$5.00 to US$30.00 depending on the different brands and manufacturers.

4. Skip menstruation altogethter

This can be done with the aid of your doctor. You may stop or decrease menstrual flow by taking medications to lessen the bleeding. Some drugs make the blood flow so little that napkins and pads are no longer necessary.

As usual, my advice is to consult your health care provider for the best advice regarding your burning questions — and I mean, burning!

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