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It’s been a pretty hectic year, and now Christmas and New Year is over, you may want nothing more than to sink into the tub with a glass of wine and the latest episode of 'Emily in Paris' to wash away the cares of 2021.
But could that fizzy little bathtub treat you got for Christmas be causing you more harm than good?
Not your vagina’s best friend
It turns out, although fun to look at, those fizzing, colourful, glittery and sweet-smelling bath bombs are NOT your vagina’s best friend, and it’s time to call time on that friendship.
So why do people love bath bombs? And what’s in these bathtub treats that makes them so toxic?
The team at WeThrift looked into what makes bath bombs such a great Christmas gift, explaining that they are inexpensive and they make an excellent stocking filler for friends and family.
In fact, over the month leading into the holidays, Google searches for the frothy, fizzy additives have increased by a staggering 128 per cent worldwide.
The fizzy balls of bliss contain ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate and citric acid, which react with each other once added to water, which creates the fizzing effect we all know and love.
When this reaction occurs, the bath bomb dissolves and breaks down, realising all of the stuff inside.
This in turn can harm the delicate mucous membranes of the vulva, leaving it vulnerable to infection.
Vagina pH levels help keep infection-causing pathogens away. A healthy and normal vaginal pH level is typically between 3.8 and 4.5. The chemicals used to make bath bombs look and smell nice can upset this delicate balance.
And those glittery bath bombs?
Bath bombs filled with festive glitter can cause even more unwanted irritation. The glitter is sharp and scratchy, so if it makes its way into your vagina and urethra, it can potentially create small cuts in the lining, making you more vulnerable to infection.
Signs of infection can include:
Unusual discharge from the vagina - change in colour or texture
Itchiness or soreness around the vagina area
Pain when you urinate or have sex
Itching, swelling and redness
Vaginal bleeding or spotting
"Some women can use any bath bomb without issue," Dr Alyssa Dweck, ob-gyn and sexual and reproductive health expert for INTIMINA, told Shape.
But not everyone will be so lucky.
"Many others are sensitive and will have increased risk of vaginal infection, urethral irritation, and UTI or vulva skin irritation (vulvitis) due to the ingredients," she added.
Not exactly the Christmas gift that keeps on giving you would want, then!
How to choose a better bath time treat
If you can’t bear the thought of giving up your bath time bliss, there are ways to pamper yourself while keeping your “happy place”, happy.
Elizabeth Trattner, a licensed acupuncturist, integrative-medicine practitioner and doctor of Chinese medicine, told SheKnows she'd rather make her own concoction with baking soda, arrowroot starch, non-yeast derived citric acid, organic oils, and a drop of essential oil. Or you can just use sea salt and a drop of essential oil to play it safe.
But if you’re extra sensitive or you want to be super safe, Dr. Dweck suggests plain warm water with fragrance-free Epsom salts.
"For those who favour scented essential oils in a bath, use only a tiny amount and be mindful of possible irritation," she said.
So it looks like you won’t have to give up your bathtub bliss-fest after all!
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