Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Dear Doc | The best way to get rid of vaginal odour

Published:Sunday | February 23, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Q I saw where you wrote about how to sweat less in the vaginal area, but I would like to know what is the best way to get rid of vaginal odour? No matter what I have tried, it still has a smell, especially at the end of the day. Is that normal? Or do I need to see the doctor?

A This is a common concern with women, as commercials have led many to believe their vagina should smell like a bouquet of flowers. However, vaginal odour is natural and normal.

That being said, unusual vaginal odour can happen from time to time, and you may experience unfamiliar smells, even when you are practising good genital hygiene.

What is not natural and normal is strong/offensive and persistent odours.

So what is normal vaginal odour? Each woman’s vaginal odour is different.

The first question you will have ask yourself is, what is your normal vaginal odour? And then determine if you are having an abnormal vaginal odour.

What I have to emphasise is that your vagina cleanses itself naturally. If you leave your vagina to its own devices, it will naturally maintain a healthy pH and keep unhealthy bacteria at bay.

Therefore, if you notice a marked change to your odour, then that is a sign of a potential problem. Strong odours, accompanied by vaginal itching and irritation, and an unusual discharge, are all signs of a vaginal infection contributing to the unusual vaginal odour.

If you need help getting rid of a natural odour, the following techniques may be of help:

1. Practice good hygiene

Clean the outside of your vagina regularly with a washcloth and mild soap. Cleansing will wash away dead skin, sweat, and dirt. DO NOT use soap on the inside of the vagina as this will disrupt the pH balance.

Avoid douches, scrubs and highly perfumed soaps and body washes, as the perfumed scents and chemicals may be an irritant to your vagina. You might think they will help eliminate bad bacteria, but they also eliminate the good bacteria.

2. Use only exterior deodorising products

If you decide to use any of the commercial powders, sprays or perfumes, be cautious; only use them on the outside of your vagina and groin area.

3. Change your underwear

If you normally wear satin, silk, or polyester panties, switch to wearing 100 per cent cotton. Cotton is breathable and does an excellent job keeping sweat and fluids away from your body. Excess moisture can upset your natural bacteria levels.

4. Try essential oils

Essential oil treatment has little medical evidence to support it, but anecdotal evidence suggests tea tree oil – an essential oil that has natural antimicrobial (antibiotic) and antifungal properties – may help reduce and eliminate bacteria.

You should, however, be cautious if you use this treatment, as you could irritate the delicate skin of the area.

There are creams that have tea tree oil, but you should only use them if they recommend for use in the genital area.

5. Prescription treatments

If over-the-counter remedies are not helpful, prescription treatments may be required to eliminate the underlying cause of the odour. It will also indicate that it is time to seek treatment from your doctor.

You should also skip the home treatment and consult your doctor if:

• The odour is stronger than normal and seems to be getting stronger.

• It has a fishy smell.

• You notice an increase in discharge, or if the discharge is no longer white or translucent.

• You develop a frequent itch or one that is painfully irritating.


Why has my baby stopped eating?

Q My 11-month-old son has had a cough for the last few days and has stopped drinking his milk from the bottle. He usually has five bottles of milk with fruits and food for the day. I want to know if I can give him callaloo.

A I am aware you asked about feeding your 11-month-old callaloo. However, my immediate concern after reading your question is the cough and the fact that he has stopped taking his bottle. Your baby may have a cold and that is what is responsible for his reduced feeding. Colds and flu sap the appetite, and he may not feel like drinking.

Children need plenty of fluids when they have a cold or the flu. But if your baby is not drinking his milk, water with juice added to liven it up is an option.

Apple or grape juice may be more soothing than orange juice, as citrus can irritate a sore throat. Dilute it with water so your child gets less sugar.

If your child is dehydrated, use an oral rehydration solution like oral rehydration salt mixture or Pedialyte instead.

Milk is quite fine for children with a cold or flu. The protein, calories, and fat in it can help keep up your sick child’s strength.

If your child still won’t drink juice or milk, other options include:

• Jello, which you can cut into small cubes or fun shapes.

• Soups – the warmth may help decrease the congestion in your baby’s airways. Some studies have even suggested that good old chicken soup may help fight inflammation and help with colds.

If these do not help, you should take him to the doctor, as it may be more than just a cold.

Also see your doctor if he:

• Is not playing as much as usual.

• Is not peeing as much as usual.

• Has dry mouth.

• Cries without tears.

• Is sleepy or listless.

• Fussy or cries more than usual.

Regarding the callaloo, after six months of age, you can introduce solids to your baby to provide additional nutrients. This includes rice cereal and puréed fruits and vegetables. The texture of traditionally prepared callaloo may not be accepted by the baby, so puréeing or mixing with cereal or something softer and smoother may help initially.