The vulvar skin microenvironment: impact of tight-fitting underwear on microclimate, pH and microflora

Acta Derm Venereol. 2005;85(2):118-22. doi: 10.1080/00015550410024562.


The aim of the present study was to investigate if tight-fitting underwear (string panties) equipped with string panty liners affected the vulvar skin microenvironment differently to regular panties with standard panty liners. Thirty-two healthy women participated in a crossover study where temperature, humidity, surface pH and aerobic microflora were measured on vulvar skin. Vulvar skin temperature was 35.2 +/- 0.19 (mean +/- SEM) and 35.3 +/- 0.17 degrees C, respectively, for the two underwear systems. Mean humidity and mean skin surface pH at vulvar skin did not differ between the two systems. Barely noticeable differences were found for the aerobic microflora both at labium majus and at perineum. The mean total number of microorganisms in the two different panty liners was the same, 6.0 +/- 0.15 and 6.0 +/- 0.16, respectively (log CFU per panty liner). The differences in panty and panty liner design studied seem to have negligible impact on the vulvar skin microclimate, skin surface pH and aerobic microflora. No support was found for the assumption that a string panty system would result in higher contamination of vulvar skin by anorectal microflora.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clothing / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hygiene*
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Temperature
  • Vulva / microbiology*
  • Vulva / physiopathology
  • Vulvovaginitis / etiology*
  • Vulvovaginitis / physiopathology