Protecting the skin’s natural barrier – particularly when it comes to feminine hygiene

By Michael Krychman, M.D.

Renowned doctor of sexual medicine, board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, and a clinical sexual counselor and author.

 Our skin is our largest organ and it is protected by a fragile hydrolipid film that functions as a protective barrier from the external world. Even the skin on the genital area is protected, The skin’s surface remains impermeable but is not impenetrable. This acidic hydrolipidic film possesses all the of properties required to maintain the skin’s barrier.

This protective layer is composed of a mixture of sweat, sebum and lipids and is affected by many factors such as area of the body, time of the day, time of the year (season), dietary intact, chronic or acute illness, and external stressors.

The coating is watery yet waxy and is combined with oils that are manufactured by the sebaceous gland which is located all over the human body. Sebum functions to lubricate, waterproof and protect the skin and hair. Sebaceous glands are responsible for creating a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin which acts as a shielding barrier against bacteria, viruses, fungus and other potential toxins or irritants that maybe caustic to the skin.

In both men and women, these glands are found in the greatest number on the face and scalp. In addition, they are located on all parts of the body, except for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The secretions may also be important not only for protection, but may also for temperature regulation or “thermoregulatory function”.

In addition, many researchers feel that this barrier may also have pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties (1,2). The skin is the front line defense field against pathogens. It may also act as a delivery system for antioxidants, antimicrobial lipids, pheromones, and also may serve to facilitate hydration other areas of the body (3). That’s why it’s important to know how to maintain an intact hydrolipid barrier on the skin. .

This important protection can be damaged or compromised from many external agents, including aggressive cleansing products, like over-the-counter soaps and environmental toxins. These external insults prevent the body from self-repairing its protective hydrolipid filmy barrier.

The most important component of the hydrolipid layer is water, which adds to the suppleness and smoothness of the skin. Once the skin barrier is compromised, it can become irritated. This is particularly true around a woman’s vaginal area. If she washes the vagina with harsh soaps, she will likely experience distressing symptoms such as burning, itchiness and dryness because she will have compromised the hydrolipid filmy barrier. The skin may even become red, flakey, cracked and inflamed. These complaints are especially troublesome around such an intimate area.

Such symptoms around the genitopelvic region is especially troublesome and often accounts for many doctor visits for women are concerned they may have an infection and or a serious pelvic problem. The truth is, these issues are more likely the result of poor choices in cleansing products that are used on the vulva and vagina.

In order to prevent damage and maintain smooth, supple and protected skin, the hydrolipidic filmy barrier must be nourished by similar elements such as hyaluronic acid and oils. It helps the skin maintain its integrity, elasticity and moisture. Doctor-recommended feminine hygiene products such as Lubrigyn Lotion®, use natural oils and botanicals to “clean by affinity,” meaning they draw out impurities with natural oils instead of harsh ingredients or harmful lather. Lubrigyn’s natural oils blend with the skin’s own oils to clean and dissolve dirt, bacteria, and other substances. In fact, the medical community supports the notion that one of the most effective ways to dissolve a “non-polar solvent” like sebum/oil is by using another non-polar solvent— another oil. Made with the finest natural oils and compatible with the skin’s own oils, Lubrigyn leaves the delicate vaginal area nourished, moisturized and balanced — but never sticky or greasy.

It is essential that women begin to understand the importance of skin health and make smart choices about the feminine hygiene products they use. .   Maintaining the skin’s natural protective and defensive barrier iscritical for overall health and comfort..


1) Zouboulis, C. C. (2004). “Acne and Sebaceous Gland Function”. Clinics in Dermatology 22 (5): 360–366.= doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2004.03.00( PMID 15556719 (

2) Youn, S. W. (2010). “The Role of Facial Sebum Secretion in Acne Pathogenesis: Facts and Controversies”. Clinics in Dermatology 28 (1): 8–11. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2009.03.011 ( PMID 20082943 (

3) Mackenna, R. M. B.; Wheatley, V. R.; Wormall, A. (1950). “The Composition of the Surface Skin Fat (‘Sebum’) from the Human Forearm”. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 15 (1): 33–47. doi:10.1038/jid.1950.69 ( PMID 14774573