Is Full-Body Deodorant Really Safe for Everywhere?

Is Full-Body Deodorant Really Safe for Everywhere? featured image
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First, there were good old-fashioned deodorant sticks. Then, there were deodorant sprays, lotions and serums. Today, the latest and greatest in anti-odor technology falls in the land of full-body deodorant. As the summer heat continues to rage on, tons of self-care companies are venturing into the world of full-body deodorant, promising safe and effective odor prevention from your pits to your privates.

While the idea of a deodorant that can prevent odor in tricky areas like under the breasts and between the legs sounds promising, I’ve been wary of the idea for quite some time, as I was always told to avoid putting any sort of product—particularly fragranced ones—anywhere down there. Most full-body deodorants undergo tons of testing to ensure safe use throughout the body, but to get to the bottom of my nether-region worries, I consulted the experts to understand whether or not full-body deodorant really is safe for everywhere.

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Is whole-body deodorant really safe for use everywhere?

One of the main questions I’ve had in the great full-body deodorant debate is in regards to just what “safe for everywhere” really means. When whole-body deodorant says it’s safe for use on your private areas, does that mean the bikini line or your actual vulva, vagina and genitalia? According to OB/GYN Somi Javaid, MD, whole-body deodorant is safe for external use on your entire body, but only if the product is labeled for full-body use. “It is not meant to be used internally or inserted like a suppository. This also means that deodorants that lack the ‘whole body’ labeling should only be applied to areas specifically named on the package.”

While most deodorants labeled safe for whole body use are safe and effective for external use everywhere, OB/GYN Angela Wilson, MD advises caution., “The answer to the question of is whole-body deodorant safe to use everywhere remains unknown. Deodorant is a cosmetic product and clinical testing is not done by the FDA. There are no long-term scientific clinical trials that support or negate its use. While the claims from product manufacturers suggest that the deodorants are safe everywhere, I would advise that patients use caution in using these products due to the limitation of testing done.”

While it is unsafe to use full-body deodorant internally, Dr. Wilson adds, “The bikini area and vulva areas are very sensitive, and one can easily develop contact dermatitis when using any products with dyes or fragrances. This creates an inflammatory response, causing itching or pain.” While one should practice caution, Dr. Javaid notes, “[full-body safe deodorants] are meant to be applied to external skin. If labeled for the whole body, the product may be used on the vulva.”

What does “gynecologist-tested” actually mean?

When looking for full-body deodorants as someone with a vagina, it is wise to look for products labeled as “gynecologist-tested.” But, what does it really mean for a product to have undergone gynecological testing. “When a product claims that it is ‘gynecologist-tested,’ it means that the testing company of the product reached out to one or more gynecologists to ask for the products approval,” Dr. Wilson begins. “However, it is very possible that the testing may have been done on only a very small number of patients, and in that limited group most patients had no immediate detrimental effect from the product, making the product ‘approved.’ There’s no long-term, scientifically-based clinical studies with a large number of participants that have been done when it comes to full-body deodorants. Thus, we do not know the effects of these products when used in extremely sensitive areas. These claims should not be confused with the scientific process that is used to approve medications.

Are there alternative ways to handle odor in your private areas?

While odor throughout the body is natural, many people have a desire to limit and control their body odor. But, what if you want to manage your odor without full-body deodorant. Is there another way? According to Dr. Javaid, odor can also be controlled with preventative habits. “I advise patients to avoid prolonged periods of tight or wet clothing and to bathe or clean with natural soaps (free of aluminum, sulfates, parabens, talc or perfumes) as natural ways to combat unwanted odor or infection.” Dr. Javaid warns that persistent or unusual odor could be a sign of infection or inflammation, especially if it doesn’t improve with good hygiene.

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