Comfortable and loose clothing is essential, particularly during flare periods. Pain patients often struggle with varying levels of skin sensitivity that comes and goes during flare periods. Jeans are frequently uncomfortable for women with vulvodynia. Tight jeans can become very uncomfortable for those with IC as well. Rough textured fabrics may also provoke skin sensitivity and discomfort. Try to purchase clothing made from 100% natural fibers, such as cotton, silk or linen. NOTE: All new clothing should be washed before wearing to reduce any incidental chemical exposures from dyes, sizing and pesticides often sprayed on clothing coming from overseas.
Women usually prefer wearing skirts, dresses, stretchy jeans, yoga pants and/or anything else that doesn’t put pressure on the belly and crotch. I especially like wearing Harem Pants such as these ones from Forever21. Cotton leggings and thigh high stockings are good alternatives to tight pantyhose. If you really need to wear jeans, try experimenting with low rise vs. natural waist jeans to see which is the most comfortable. I find stretching jeans work okay for a couple of hours, but would never want to travel with them.
As far as underwear goes, simple is best, including white, cotton bikinis, boy shorts, briefs and boxers! It seems that coloured fabrics may contain some irritating dyes; specifically blue.
Jockey and Hanes make cotton knit string bikinis or boy shorts. Nylon and polyester should be avoided because they don’t allow skin to breathe. No thongs please! These have been shown to increase the risk of bacterial exposure.
Dermasilk was found to help improve the symptoms of vulvar burning, skin irritation and pain in a 2011 study conducted at the University of Bologna, Italy. They studied 42 women, divided into two groups (Dermasilk vs. Cotton) and the group that used Dermasilk showed a much better improvement in their symptoms. A further study showed that women that used this material had a decrease in itching from re-occurent vulvo-vaginitis. You can find their products in these stores located throughout Canada.
Wearing pants can aggravate pelvic pain so “going commando” might be even more painful than wearing underwear in this scenario. There is a product available to solve this problem. Go Commandos are little cotton liners with adhesive that you can paste on the inside of your pants to catch anything that might come out and create a barrier from your vaginal area.