Even as the beauty world gets inclusive, there are people who go for skin lightening treatments and solutions. From the face to other body parts such as inner thighs, armpits, lips or even vagina – they wish to look for ways to lighten skin colour. Now that there is vaginal bleaching, some women don’t shy away from lightening their private area. But is vaginal bleaching safe? Or is it too risky to lighten the dark vulva skin using topical creams, chemical peels or lasers?
To get you the answer, Health Shots reached out to Dr Mridula Devi, Consultant – Maternal-fetal medicine, Milann Fertility and Birthing Hospital, JP Nagar, Bengaluru.
Vaginal bleaching, also known as intimate area lightening or genital bleaching, refers to the practice of using products or treatments to lighten the skin in the genital area, including the inner thighs, labia and surrounding areas, explains Dr Devi. The reasons why some women might choose to undergo vaginal bleaching can vary. Personal preferences, societal beauty standards and cultural influences can all play a role. Some women might feel self-conscious about the appearance of their genital area and believe that lightening the skin tone can enhance their self-confidence or sexual satisfaction.
The safety of vaginal bleaching is a topic of concern. Many products and treatments used for genital bleaching contain potentially harmful ingredients such as hydroquinone, mercury or corticosteroids. The expert says these substances can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions or other adverse effects when used in sensitive areas. Also, the long-term effects of these treatments on the delicate genital skin are not well-studied, so their safety and efficacy remain uncertain. There are potential side effects of vaginal bleaching.
The use of harsh chemicals or improper application techniques can lead to skin redness, itching, burning or soreness down there.
Some women might be allergic to the ingredients present in the bleaching products, resulting in rashes, hives or even more severe allergic responses.
The genital area is already sensitive, and certain bleaching methods might further increase sensitivity, leading to discomfort during sexual activity or other physical sensations.
The use of bleaching agents can disturb the natural pH balance and beneficial bacteria in the vaginal area, potentially increasing the risk of infections or other imbalances, says Dr Devi.
Incorrect or excessive use of bleaching products might cause skin damage, scarring or uneven pigmentation that could be challenging to reverse.
If you are considering vaginal bleaching despite the potential risks, make sure you consult a doctor first. You also need to research the reputation and credibility of the clinic or manufacturers of the over-the-counter. Before applying any bleaching product to the entire genital area, perform a patch test on a small area of your skin. If you are using at-home bleaching kits, carefully read and follow the instructions that are given on the box. Never exceed the recommended application time or frequency.
You can also consider using home remedies to lighten your private area or go for products that do not contain potentially harmful chemicals. Alternatives like gentle exfoliation, moisturising or using natural skin-lightening ingredients such as lemon juice or aloe vera might be safer options.
But it’s important to prioritise your health and well-being over beauty standards set by others.