Allergic to Toilet Paper: My Story
Discovering my toilet paper allergy
It all started about three years ago with what my gynecologist and I initially thought was a yeast infection. After the visit, I was simply told to purchase an over-the-counter medication known as "Monistat" to treat it. Whether it helped or was just a coincidence, it would get better around the same time as using Monistat, but it would always return shortly after. It quickly became a once-a-month thing. I returned to the gynecologist who seemed stumped. I was tested and retested for a slew of sexually transmitted diseases for which all results were negative. I was asked if I used harsh or scented soaps / bath products which can sometimes cause irritations, but I didn't use any products like that. This went on for approximately three years (yikes) until I recently began trial and error with which toilet paper I was using. After years and countless tears of deep frustration, I'm finally symptom free. For those who also suffer like I did, I really want to help by sharing what I discovered on my journey of being free from the nasty effects of a toilet paper allergy.
What are the symptoms?
A toilet paper allergy can be pretty embarrassing. It felt like an extremely itchy , painful yeast infection without the yeast infection-like discharge. Slight swelling and redness of the labia can also occur. These symptoms can also affect your bum. In short, it causes a condition known as vulvitis. For me, an untreated toilet paper allergy became debilitating and sob-inducing. The fact that no one, even my doctors, had no answers just made it all the more frustrating. I couldn't date or have a relationship because intercourse had become impossibly painful and it was just too embarrassing for me to talk about. However, there is hope and I'm here to share with you how I dealt with my condition!
What causes the allergic reaction?
The most common culprit that causes reactions from toilet paper is the chlorine bleach that manufacturers use to make the tissue look "white" and "fresh". There are tons of other chemicals involved in the complicated process of making bath tissue, but many companies refuse to reveal exactly what all of these are due to "proprietary trade secrets". That is really upsetting since people's lives can be affected by their products in profound ways. What you can be sure of though is that the nicer, fluffier, softer, and fragrant the toilet paper is the more extensive the use of harsh chemicals are. Chances are if you have this sensitivity, you will have to give up on super fluffy and absorbent toilet paper in exchange for something less processed. Trust me though, it's worth it in the end.
What are some allergy free toilet paper brands?
This is the good part, because this condition is completely treatable! The first thing you want to do is get rid of your chlorine-bleached toilet paper (duh) and grab yourself something that is chlorine-bleach free. This will usually be listed on the outside packaging as companies are finally realizing that there is a market for products that aren't so harsh. The first one I tried was toilet paper. As with most toilet paper that is less processed, it won't be as soft but your posterior will thank you. My condition instantly improved by switching, but since I wanted to know what all of my options were, I did the hard work for you and continued to try out different products. Everyone is a little different and won't react the same way, but it is helpful to know which products you can use in case the store doesn't carry or runs out of your regular brand. Seventh Generation's unbleached also makes a bath tissue that is whitened without chlorine-bleach, and I think it was a little softer than Seventh Generation's version. Green Forest
Most people's symptoms will completely disappear when they've tossed their chlorine-bleached varieties, but in my case, although greatly improved, I was still exhibiting slight symptoms. It turns out, you can also be sensitive to the wood pulp in toilet paper. There are some new treeless products on the market made from bamboo that are not whitened with chlorine bleach. I found and bought which is made from bamboo, hypoallergenic, additive and fragrance free. After switching to this toilet paper, I am completely free of the painful symptoms of vulvitis caused by other bath tissues. There are a few other bamboo toilet papers out there such as one made by Caboo that are probably worth trying. Additionally, paper made from bamboo is more eco friendly and also softer than recycled paper made from trees. NooTrees
Other steps you can take to alleviate your symptoms
- See your doctor or gynecologist and ask for a weak desonide or steroid cream. I got some from my doctor and applied to affected areas while I was healing from using the wrong toilet paper for, well, my whole life. It also comes in handy if you're forced to use toilet paper in public that can make your symptoms flair up again.
- Along with a gentle steroid cream, I found that using sped up my healing process by keeping the area hydrated and avoided opening the cracks in the skin that can form from irritation. It is fragrance, preservative, and colorant-free which is great for sensitive skin. Aquaphor
- Don't wipe aggressively, even if it itches. This will only result in micro-cuts and further irritate your skin.
- Be patient. Now that you're on your way to healing, just give it some time!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.