An itch or a strange smell down there? It is enough to force you to hide until the problem is over.
Although they are common and likely to affect all of us at some point in our lives, symptoms in the genitals can be embarrassing.
A number of factors could be behind a strange symptom in your parts – birth control, diet, harsh soaps, sex, and STIs are all causes.
But what if it’s your undergarment choice and how you use it that is behind the problem?
Experts at The Derm Review – a skin care platform – highlight undergarment flaws that put you at risk for dodgy bacteria, skin irritation, and more.
If you have recurring infections or symptoms of STIs, see a family doctor or pharmacist to make sure that something more sinister isn’t causing this.
According to a poll by The Derm Review of 1,061 people, most people wash new underwear before wearing them.
The 31 percent who don’t may want to consider it once they hear the potential dangers.
Skin care biochemist Elle Macleman would always wash underwear first for fear of lurking germs.
She said, “While the risks from new clothes are generally small, certain items of clothing (like underwear) should almost certainly be washed before wearing, if not more than freshening them up and avoiding potential risks.
“Failure to wash new clothing can have potentially serious effects on skin health, including contact and irritable dermatitis, vulvitis (or swelling of the vulva), and other fungal or bacterial infections.
“When it comes to underwear, chemical irritants as well as fungal and bacterial contamination are real possibilities.”
A large proportion of women (37 percent) would not bother washing a bra before putting it on, even though it may be tried on by dozens of other people.
People over 65 years of age are the least likely to wash a new bra (45 percent), and those under 35 years of age are the least likely to wash a new bra (34 percent).
Elle said, “Failure to wash a new bra could expose a consumer to a number of problems, such as staph and yeast infections.
“Breastfeeding mothers should wash their bra particularly thoroughly as this can increase the risk of mastitis.”
Mastitis can also affect women who are not breastfeeding.
This makes the breast swollen, hot and painful, causing burning pain or discharge from the nipple.
Typical causes of the condition include smoking, damage to the nipple, shaving or plucking hair around the nipple, impact on the chest, or a weak immune system.
The Derm Review has also urged wearing the same panties or pants more than once – which 21 percent of women admit.
Elle said, “It might be tempting to cut down on the amount of laundry by wearing the same underwear for more than a day.
“But the health risks of infection, irritation, abnormal discharge and skin breakouts should make you think twice before wearing your underwear again for several days.
“Those who wear their underwear to bed may increase their risk of thrush, vaginitis, and bacterial vaginosis.
“While those who do not change and wash their underwear soon after exercising may experience a noticeable increase in body odor and the potential for breakouts or disruption to the vaginal microbiome.”
The NHS does not recommend wearing tight underwear or clothing – a cause of thrush.
Bacteria that cause the yeast infection thrive in warm, humid conditions.