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Bubble baths are bad for vaginal health: Myth or fact?

Bubble baths can be relaxing. But bathing in bubbles may cause urinary tract infection or UTI. Let's find out all about bubble baths and vaginal health.
View All Images A woman having a bubble bath
Bubble bath may lead to vaginal infections. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 7 Apr 2024, 13:30 pm IST
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Medically Reviewed by

After a long day, relaxing in a bathtub full of bubbles may seem like the most flattering form of self-care. It can provide a spa-like experience in the comfort of your own home – if you have a bathtub, that is. Even though it may help to relieve muscle ache and pain, a bubble bath may not be so good for your vagina. Soaking in bubble baths with fragrance and harsh chemicals can increase the risk of vaginal irritation or infections, especially for those who may be already at a risk of infections down there. Read on to know more about how bubble baths can affect vaginal health.

What are bubble baths?

Bubble baths are baths in which a product, usually a liquid soap or bath gel, is added to the water to create bubbles. These bubbles can enhance the bathing experience by providing a sense of relaxation. Bubble bath products often contain surfactants, which are substances that reduce the surface tension of water, allowing bubbles to form easily, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Deepa Dewan. They usually contain fragrances, moisturisers, and other ingredients designed to nourish and pamper the skin.

A woman enjoying a bubble bath
Bubble baths may cause UTI. Image courtesy: Freepik

How can bubble baths be harmful for the vagina?

Bubble baths can be enjoyable, but may be harmful to the vaginal area due to several reasons:

1. Disruption of pH balance

The pH (potential of hydrogen) of the vagina is naturally acidic, which helps maintain a healthy balance of bacteria and prevents infections. Bubble bath products, particularly those containing harsh surfactants and fragrances, can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina, leading to irritation and inflammation, says the expert.

2. Increased risk of urinary tract infections

According to a 2013 study published in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, skin allergens introduced to the genital area, such as bubble bath liquids, could alter vaginal flora and ultimately result in urinary tract infections (UTIs). Bubble bath ingredients may irritate the urethra, making it more susceptible to infection.

3. Vaginal dryness

Harsh surfactants and detergents in bubble bath products can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to vaginal dryness and irritation down there. This can even cause discomfort during sex

4. Vaginal yeast infection

Bubble baths can potentially contribute to vaginal yeast infection (candidiasis), says Dr Dewan. The fragrances and harsh detergents can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina, creating an environment conducive to yeast overgrowth.
Prolonged exposure to moisture, particularly in warm, soapy water, can also promote the growth of yeast in the vaginal area.

A woman preparing a bubble bath
Don’t take bubble baths frequently. Image courtesy: Freepik

What to keep in mind while having bubble bath?

When it comes to bubble baths and vaginal health, there are several things to keep in mind to minimise the risk of irritation or infection.

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  • Opt for bubble bath products specifically formulated for sensitive skin or intimate hygiene. Look for products that are fragrance-free and have no sulfates.
  • Take bubble baths less frequently or for brief periods. Limit the duration of bubble baths to 10 to 15 minutes, especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to vaginal infections, says the expert.
  • After bathing, rinse the genital area thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual bubble bath product. Pay close attention to ensure all soap residue is washed away.
  • After bathing, pat the genital area dry with a clean and soft towel to avoid irritating the delicate skin of the vaginal area.
  • Don’t use bubble bath products internally. They should not be introduced into the vaginal canal. Bubble bath solutions are meant for external use only and should not be used to cleanse the inside of the vagina, as this can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and increase the risk of infections.

If you experience any symptoms of vaginal irritation, discomfort, abnormal discharge or odour after using bubble bath products, stop taking bubble baths and check with your doctor.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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