The Vulva Skin Microclimate: Influence of Panty Liners on Temperature, Humidity and pH
Many women use panty liners between menstrual periods. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the use of such products might influence the vulva skin. Twelve healthy women were studied on four occasions with three different product constructions and on one occasion without products. Temperature, surface wetness and surface pH were measured on vulva skin. Mean skin temperature when the women were wearing a conventional panty liner (with a non-breathable back sheet) was 35.9°C, compared to 34.4°C when wearing no panty liner at all (p<0.01) and 34.5°C when using a panty liner with a breathable (i.e. vapour permeable) back sheet (p<0.01). Skin humidity was significantly higher when the conventional panty liner was used compared to no panty liner or to the breathable panty liner (both cases p<0.01). The mean pH value at the exterior aspect of the labium majus was 5.8 with the conventional panty liner, 5.2 with no panty liner and 5.3 with the breathable panty liner (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). The results indicate that the conventional panty liner changes the vulva skin microclimate, but that the breathable panty liner to a substantial degree keeps the microclimate at an undisturbed level. The actual effect of these differences on microbiological flora will be addressed in a subsequent study.