Soothing the Genital Burn: When Toxic Toys or Poison Lube Strike

So I get a fair amount of people coming to me in fear, in panic and mostly in pain because they used a lower-quality sex toy made from a dubious material or a material that contains a supposedly “helpful” additive (hey, lookin at you Sil-a-gel) and they want to have their fears alleviated but also, you know, not be in pain. I’ve read the fear in emails from people terrified they have caused themselves some sort of permanent damage; or they went to their doctor who probably frowned and loosely diagnosed them (if they have a vagina) with BV or maybe a yeast infection. Maybe these people told their doctor about their sex toy. Maybe they themselves didn’t know that the sex toy could be the cause of their vaginal burning until they read my old post about jelly dildos or my newer post about Sil-a-gel. Regardless, they’re in pain and scared and want to be neither. Or, maybe, they used a lube with a nasty chemical in it that they have now reacted horribly to. I’ve read about mild chemical burns from shitty lubes, too.

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a medical professional of any kind. I did vet these solutions with a midwife, but you may want to check with your own doctor first. When you speak to your doctor, be honest about what is causing the problem, be it sex toy or lube. At the very least you’ll be educating your doctor because many of them don’t know that this is happening. Ask them for treatment advise for a chemical irritation/burn.

If You’re Pretty Sure The Burning Pain is From Your Sex Toy

And you are certain it is not made from silicone (and I mean CERTAIN), glass, or hard plastic – we then must assume there is some chemical in the softened plastic/vinyl (PVC is the usual culprit, possibly rubber, maybe some mystery material) that is causing this and that said material has probably begun to leach oils and break down. You may experience lingering pain and burning because the bad chemical is attached to an oil and you’re not getting the oil off your genitals. So first, let’s get those oils away from your sensitive mucous membranes.

Plain water douche OR milk douche (not skim milk) – The plain water may help, but the proteins and fats in the milk may be better. You know how when you eat something WAY too spicy from peppers and cold milk eases your pain? Same concept. This should be avoided if you’re allergic to cow’s milk. I do not know if non-dairy milks will help here – as Lorax explained their reasoning to this suggestion it was based on the proteins and fats in the milk.  You can expect to need to do this a few times over the first few days. You can also just buy a quart of organic cream and add it to water and do a sitz bath. Try both tepid water and cool water for this, see which gives you more relief. If your water is treated or hard water you may want to consider using filtered water or distilled water for this. You can get a sitz bath for your toilet at any pharmacy, they look like this.

While you (probably) don’t have a yeast infection, you might consider a vinegar douche as described here. It may help get rid of the oils, and it will also kinda reset your pH which will be helpful if part or all of the problem is that you used a lube with a pH much lower than your own.

Yogurt Everywhere – but first, the warning: You must use plain, unsweetened, unflavored organic yogurt. Anything else is bad. It would be best if it has live, active cultures. If you think that most of the burning is external then just generously frost your vulva with cold yogurt and lay there in awkward positions in the bathroom while it works some magic. If you think that some of the burning is also interior then get a plastic tampon applicator (unscented, please), toss the tampon, and fill up the applicator with yogurt. You could also use a needle-less syringe or a very clean turkey baster.

A note: While I most often hear about burning vaginas and vulvas, this could happen to the rectum/anus as well I believe. I don’t see why these things wouldn’t work for the butt – just get an enema kit from your pharmacy.

These methods will soothe & cool the inflamed tissue and remove the oils. Now what? Your flesh is still sore and inflamed so you need to keep babying it.

Methods to Soothe Inflamed Genitals

In between rinsing and sitz-ing to make sure you removed the chemical that is burning your vagina or vulva, you need to calm down the inflammation and help yourself heal. Since vaginal burning isn’t limited to sex toys, if you have vaginal burning and it’s not a sex toy or infection, look at your lube. If the pain lasts only while you’re using the lube and for a little while after, it could either be a pH imbalance or a bad ingredient. Read about that here, and get yourself some pH strips to test you AND the lube. Most likely if you’re reacting badly to a crappy lube, there’s no oil involved – unless it’s one of those warming/cooling lubes, then YMMV. If the following methods don’t give you relief, go up and try the yogurt or milk tricks.

Get an old fashioned menstrual pad (not the dry-top-layer kind, the cheap kind) or even just some clean fabric / fabric pads. Soak it in chamomile tea and then refrigerate the whole thing a bit. You want it cold. Let the chamomile tea + the chill of it all calm down the inflammation. Repeat as necessary.

For external use only, a midwife also suggested hydro-cortisone cream if things are really bad.

If you have access to it, a CBD or THC infused coconut oil salve will really help speed up healing. If you’re in Canada look for Cannalife products, especially the salve.

Ice – but please use a barrier like a thin washcloth so that you don’t burn your skin from the ice. I bet anything your local grocery store (where you’re already headed for yogurt, chamomile and pads or tampons) has an ice cube tray like this in their drinks aisle. The long, round slender shape can lay nicely between your labia. It can slip into a condom1 (giving you a little protection from the cold and tied off so that you don’t soak the bed) and then be inserted vaginally (hey, smear it with yogurt for a double-attack – yogurt as lube and soother). Smitten Kitten sells a thing meant just for the genitals but you probably don’t want to wait on the shipping.

You’re probably a bit drier than normal right now so consider moisturizing with organic, unrefined coconut oil (unless you’re allergic). Other natural oils can help, too, like grapeseed. It seems that most people that will react badly to oils around their vulva react to refined oils (like Vaseline). Keep in mind that oils destroy latex and polyisoprene, so if you insist on having sex, use polyurethane condoms.

Wear loose, soft underthings and avoid sex and masturbation until you’re fully healed.

Please let us know in the comments if anything else has worked for you!

This post is brought to you by a blogger roundtable on-the-fly had in the Tantus Blogger Lounge at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2016 (where SheVibe was my sponsor). Many suggestions from the incredibly smart Lorax of Sex, with ideas also from Taylor and Caitlin. I thank you smart folks, and my readers will thank you. As we all tossed around ideas I started frantically entering them into a notes-taking-app on my phone; my phone which kept auto-correcting “douche” to “douchecanoe” and I had to just let that go, knowing I would understand the notes no less in a week or two.


  1. you should probably go with the unlubed kind just to be safe

11 Responses

  1. Mandi says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Lilly! The discussion in the blogger lounge was so helpful, and I’m tempted to bookmark this for quick reference as I try to figure out my lube situation over the next few months. hehe

  2. PandorasBox says:

    I would be hesitant to try some of these remedies :( My vulva is a delicate freaking flower and frequent itching is just something I’ve had to deal with on and off. I’m very sensitive to lubes and toys. A wet sanitary pad would give me an instant yeast infection. Same goes with food in my vaginal canal.

    What does work is sitz baths. Amazing! Sliquid Satin is really good. It is soothing, and cooling and good on delicate skin. I’ve heard good things about coconut oils but haven’t tried them. If it’s really bad: acetaminaphin, benadryl, and cortizone cream. Go commando as much as possible and wear loose fitting cotton stuff for awhile.

  3. Well, you know your body. All of these suggestions have been tried by others, and confirmed by health professionals. “Food” I agree is bad. Plain yogurt, however, is a bit more nuanced than food. While OTC drugs are great, sometimes you are in a position where you don’t have immediate access. Or they may interact with drugs you’re already on. Hence the more natural options given.

  4. PandorasBox says:

    True, everyone has different bodies and different circumstances. Frankly I’m just glad there are more people spreading the word about crappy toys and lubes causing health issues. I get a lot of surprised faces when I suggest trying better lube to people in addition to going with non-porous toys.

    So far though, nothing and I mean nothing has been worse than finding out the very hard way that I was allergic to spermicide. Just thinking about it makes me miserable.

    I recommend your blog when I teach classes btw.

  5. Oh jeez that burn must have been bad!!! Spermicide was not a good invention IMO but I’m cranky like that.

  6. FieryRed says:

    Oh god, remember when most condoms came with spermicidal lubricant on them? Ugh, so irritating. I feel like the manufacturers were focusing on keeping dudes from being responsible for a baby rather than on the safety of vulvas and vaginas.

  7. Tzipora says:

    Never saw this post before but I’m surprised no mention of antihistamines. Should help with inflammation in general (and I dont know how it works with a straight up chemical burn but I suspect allergy type responses are at least as common especially give how common latex allergy is and how some of those crappy toys likely contain latex/rubber related materials- I learned of a latex allergy after covering a mildly irritating poor quality- and stupidly overpriced- toywith a condom so I admit that’s my go to thought when I think of burning genitals!). Benadryl is stronger than most but any antihistamine will help with allergen type responses so if you’ve got like Zyrtec or Claritin on hand already it’s safe to take that. (Developed some issues with Benadryl and asthma myself and more recently when I was accidentally exposed to latex through eyelash glue of all things, I found Zyrtec helped considerably).

    And while obviously you won’t wanna use it internally, topically I’m a big fan of Benadryl cream (or they make a nice spray also!). Can’t do Benadryl pills or sublingual or whatever because it triggers asthma attacks but no issues with the spray. It’s kind of anti-itch anti-inflammation thing as well and the spray I have is kinda cooling. It is literally my go to thing for all sorts of skin reactions because I’m cursed with sensitive skin and often I’m not even sure the cause or exact type of what’s happening to my skin but I find the Benadryl spray or cream works as well if not better than hydrocortisone.

    The other thing I’m in love with that I honestly have used around my genitals and think I even used after my sex toy and latex issues is any kind of lotion with colloidal oatmeal. They make bath soaks and such with it as well so worth a shot (never used those for a specific irritation or skin issue but in general great for dry or sensitive skin). Colloidal oatmeal is a very popular eczema treatment and it’s the only thing that’s ever worked truly well for eczema but I use it for all kinds of skin issues and I often will top the Benadryl spray or cream with a layer. Aveeno makes a lot of products with it and that’s honest to god what I applied to my genitals lol (I was desperate but from I understand natural unscened lotions aren’t necessarily bad down there. I have sjorgrens syndrome which is a big part of the cause of my skin irritation and also causes vaginal, mouth, eye dryness and I’ve legit seen mild unscented lotions listed as an option. There’s an Israeli Dead Sea lotion I swear by too that I’ve used for irritation when I couldn’t find a lube I could tolerate because it’s a very mild, super moisturizing, sensitive skin friendly brand). Anyway, right now for colloidal oatmeal lotions I’m a huge fan of a skincare brand called FAB. You can get it at Sephora for sure and I think Ulta and it’s not super expensive for the quality. I had some in a travel set i used during a trip that involved a lot of time on planes and skin irritation. Colloidal oatmeal is the main ingredient in their lotion and so that and the Benadryl spray are my current first line of defense.

    Agree with sitz baths too. That’s what I did as well with my reaction. Was something my mom taught me as a kid to deal with any irritation from bowel issues or genital stuff. Might be worth trying a colloidal oatmeal soak in conjunction.

    And I get that some people might be uncomfortable with my lotion suggestion but I’m personally more comfortable doing that than any kind of douche. And so long as you know what’s in the lotion and it’s mild and sensitive skin friendly, probably not the worst thing just try to keep away from your urethra because that can sting. High quality lotions and the colloidal oatmeal stuff was an absolute godsend when I was dealing with severe dryness and irritation and unable to find a lube that didn’t burn.

    And my one big warning I would add, stay away from aloe vera unless you absolutely know you have no issues with it (even then I’ve used it straight from a plant on general skin and been fine but I’m pretty sure aloe is the ingredient in a lot of the “good lubes” out there that I react to and I understand this is not uncommon). I’d watch out if trying my lotion idea too to be sure there’s aloe on the lotion and even watchout for hydrocortisone creams that contain aloe because it’s such a trendy ingredient these days. Seems a lot of folks react to aloe in the genitals region and in lube. Also why even if you know your lube is a “good brand” I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out as the source of reaction. I had an intense reaction to Sliquid Organic and I’ve since heard of a handful of others having the same issue and aloe is in quite a few of the otherwise natural, paraben and glycerine free lines on the market. It’s been tough for me to find lubes and I’m always weary now but presently doing well with Pink brand.

    Anyway super long ramblings but I’ve been in genital burn land several times (also don’t go using power wand vibes immediately after shaving your genitals. That’s a special burn all it’s own lol I used to straight up ice my crotch after a couple of experience with that. Haha!) and in general have such obnoxiously sensitive skin. Also I fully support open communication with your doc/gyno if it doesn’t get better on its own. Even if they’re not overly aware of chemical burns any doc worth their salt won’t be judgemental of sex toys. I was 14 when I had my first Pap smear due to issues with my cycle and for whatever reason openly told my doc I used a vibrator (thank gd while it was a cheap one it was plastic not jelly! I don’t think there was too much else on the market at that point anyway). Gyno literally was impressed by my honesty and thanked me. And if 14 year old non sexually active, petrified for her first pelvic exam me could speak up, well I promise it’s not so bad. And sex toys are way more common now and I think most gynecologists (as well as urologists if penis and prostates are what you’re working with, I know someone in their 20s having prostate issues whose urologist actually recommended daily masturbation and considering prostate stimulation!) are pretty open and knowledgeable at least that sex toys are common and popular. Truly no shame there. The only shame is in all the companies producing these terrible quality sex toys out of dangerous materials!

  8. I didn’t mention antihistamines because mentioning anything that is a drug, even an OTC drug, could be potentially seen as giving medical advice. I wanted to try and find ways to provide relief without drugs, even something as common as antihistamines. Also I’ve found that sometimes the reaction is allergic, and sometimes it’s simply a chemical burn so antihistamines may, or may not, work.

    I’m honestly surprised at the number of folks telling me they cannot tolerate Aloe Vera, since it’s supposed to be soothing, but hey our bodies can get pissed off at ANYTHING.

  9. Shanna Crutchfield says:

    So what if you accidentally use a toy cleaner as lubricant?? (It was a dark drunken night) Should I be extremely concerned? And will the above recommendations work for irritation?

  10. These are pretty generic suggestions for any sort of vaginal (anal) irritation so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for your situation. Without knowing the ingredients of the cleaner (and really, without being a medical professional) I can’t say how concerned you should be, tbh.

  11. Shanna Crutchfield says:

    K, thank you for your quick response!