You are here: IC Network > ICN Patient Handbook - Self Help Tip of the Month - October 2002

Reducing Skin Irritation and Urine Burn

(By ICN Founder Jill O.)

Who would have guessed that one of the most effective self help strategies costs under $2.00 and can be found at almost every drug store. What is it? Well, before I spill the beans, let me tell you how I heard about it.

In my early twenties (years before my IC began), I developed vulvodynia - an intense irritation of the vulva and perineum. It felt like a raging yeast infection yet, when I visited my ob-gyn, he never found yeast and usually said that I "looked normal" down there. After several visits, he explained it by saying that I had most sensitive skin that he had ever seen and that I would have to learn to live with it. So, I tried to.

Wearing pants was painful and uncomfortable. When buying jeans, I desperately looked for brands that had longer, non binding crotch seams. I even remember cutting those seams down so that they wouldn't chafe so much. Did anyone else notice just how big those seams were?

It didn't take long for me to figure out that soaps were very irritating, especially bubble baths. Underwear washed in Cheer and most commercial laundry detergents would, within five minutes, cause my vulvodynia to flare. Menstral pads were drying and chafing. Riding a bicycle was impossible. And, as my grandmother passed down to my mother, I learned about wearing "white cotton" underwear, not using soap, using only baking soda in my bath water and wearing stockings rather than pantyhose.

My vulvodynia didn't take kindly to the onset of my IC and, like many of my fellow IC sufferers, I struggled with uncomfortable "urine burn" - a feeling of hot urine burning those tissues. It was with great frustration that I attended a local support group for vulvodynia, squirming on the drive down. They gave me one of the best self-help tips that I have to share with both IC and vulvodynia patients today! Buy a perineal wash bottle from your nearest drug store. (Do not buy any bottles that have chemicals, cleansers or liquid in them. It should be empty). Fill it ONLY with plain, simple water or bottled spring water if you live in an area with hard water. Every time you use the restroom, rinse yourself off thoroughly and pat gently dry. If your urine feels hot, use cooler water to soothe those tender tissues.

It's been about ten years since I started using a wash bottle and my vulvodynia symptoms now rarely appear. It has reduced my incidence of UTI's and has an unexpected benefit of being very soothing after sex. It was $2.00 well spent. If you can't find a bottle locally, we do keep a stock in our shop for sale. Look for it under "restroom supplies."

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Revised: 05/01/04 - jho