Genital hygiene can be a touchy subject, which is perhaps why it’s neglected so often. Then comes moisturizing, which is a whole different world of its own. Men moisturize after shaving. And, it’s becoming increasingly common for men to apply moisturizer elsewhere, including right down there. However, is it actually necessary to moisturize genitals?
The short answer
The short answer is generally no. For both males and females, genitals have a nice habit of keeping themselves fairly moist all on their own. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere on the exterior of your body more consistently moist than your genitals, with the notable exception of nooks and crannies like your armpits.
Rather than drying out, the biggest health risk to your penis is actually excessive moisture. Australian health authorities warn that both men and women can put themselves at risk of bacterial infection by not properly drying genitals after swimming or after a long, sweaty day.
However, men, this doesn’t mean you are totally off the hook. Genital hygiene is extremely important for a variety of reasons, including to limit bacteria growth and keep both yourself and any sexual partners happy and healthy.
Wash your penis with regular soap
This issue was actually addressed by Dr. Darius Paduch recently. Paduch is a urologist and expert in men’s health. Speaking to Buzzfeed, he suggested washing the penis with simple, regular old soap. Paduch recommended keeping away from anything with too many ingredients. In particular, avoid anything with strong chemicals, including antibacterial formulas.
The reason is that — like it or not — the genitals are pretty delicate. The skin, in particular, is quite sensitive. Strong chemicals can easily disrupt nature’s way of doing things. Women are perhaps more aware of this simple fact than men, thanks to the douche craze of the 1990s.
For years, companies told women they needed to regularly use fragrant, germ-killing chemicals. Nowadays, we know douching doesn’t keep you clean. In fact, douching increases your risk of STIs, bacterial infections like BV, trichomonas, yeast infections and even cervical cancer. As usual, nature seems to do a better job of looking after us than chemicals manufactured by multinational corporations. The same rule applies to men. Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Causes of a dry penis
Putting all that aside, there are a handful of reasons why men may want to consider moisturizing. Some lubricants can cause the penis to dry out after intercourse, especially those water based lubricants that tend to dry into an uncomfortable powder. Some common moisturizers include Vaseline and the slightly runnier Dermeze, zinc cream, castor oil cream, emulsifying ointment, Sorbolene cream and Aqueous cream. Emulsifying ointment is particularly good at moisturizing, but can be a little messy.
There are also a few other reasons why your penis might be dry. In cold climates, hot showers can make your skin dry, while other environmental factors like the change of seasons can also be challenging. Meanwhile, many hygiene products can dry out your skin, such as some body washes and shampoos.
Before reaching for a bottle of moisturizer, consider trying to change the underlying problem. If hot showers dry you out, then try turning down the heat. If your shampoo makes things worse, then use a different product.
More serious reasons for a dry penis
Of course, it’s not just the weather and your shampoo of choice that can make your genitals go awry. A number of more serious conditions can also cause the genitals to be unusually dry. For example, psoriasis is a long-term skin problem that can make skin itchy and scaly. Moisturizers won’t cure the condition. But, they can be helpful when it comes to managing the symptoms. There’s also a range of forms of dermatitis that can affect the genitals and moisturizers can likewise help with management.
Finally, dryness could be the result of an allergic reaction. If the dryness is particularly severe or painful, please do yourself a favor and see a doctor.
For everyone else, though, you can take it easy. Regular genital cleaning should be enough to keep your penis in good working order. Paduch recommended washing your genitals every time you shower, which should be once every few days (not every day) with that nice simple soap we mentioned earlier.
However, don’t apply the soap directly. Instead, lather it up in your hands, then apply. It’s worth noting though that soap itself can actually dry out your genitals. So, if your penis reacts badly to your cleaning habit, then try something different. Perhaps consider just plain old water. Whatever you do, keep it simple and don’t be rough!
— Tamara Pearson