How to use cloth pads when you have lichen sclerosus

For women with Lichen Sclerosus the time of the month can be a source of major flare ups. Disposable menstrual pads not only contain irritating chemicals but also the ultra absorbent material dries out the enflamed, fragile, skin. When I was using disposables I would often itch, develop sores, and have tearing the week following my period. Additionally, I would develop rashes due to the lack of air flow caused by the pads. It pretty much sucked. 

Regulating what comes into contact with your affected skin is crucial for those with LS which is why I urge anyone with this condition to switch to cloth pads. Like I said, when I switched to cloth pads my monthly flareups all but disappeared although I still had some irritation which I figured out was due to my choice in fabric that made up my cloth pads. 

What fabric should I use for my cloth pads?

Cloth pads are made of 3 layers; a top layer (or topper), an absorbent layer, and a back layer (or backer). With all three layers you most definitely want to stay away from synthetic fibers and stick to fibers like cotton or bamboo. 

The topper is the layer that is going to be in direct contact with your skin so you want to make sure this layer is free of dyes, is soft, and permeable enough to allow liquid through but not in itself extremely absorbent (you don’t want to dry out your skin).

The absorbent layer is where you want your more absorbent fabric to be. Again, the fabric should be free of dyes and synthetic material so choose a natural non-dyed fabric. Zorb is a popular choice for many cloth pad users but I would avoid it. It is a synthetic fabric that is very thin and absorbent but it is extremely irritating to LS skin.

The material you use for your backer should, again, be made of natural fibers free of dye. This layer should be water resistant but it doesn’t need to be. You can also use a fabric called PUL fabric which is a synthetic fabric that is also waterproof. This will prevent leaks. I personally would only use this on a few pads to see if you react to lack of breathability and synthetic nature of the fabric. I only use pads with this kind of material when I am out of the house but I personally have never had a leak when using pads without this waterproof layer.   

My (fabric) recommendations

For your topper, I recommend using natural non-dyed cotton or bamboo velour (found here)

For your absorbent layer, I recommend natural non-dyed cotton flannel (found here)     

For your backer, I recommend just using natural non-dyed flannel (found here) or non-dyed woven cotton. 

What shape should my cloth pads be?

The shape is completely up to you. You should take into account the shape of underwear you generally use, what type of bleeder you are (front, back, or center), and the thickness of your pad. If you find that you’re pads are riding up and giving you a frontal wedgie (if you know what I mean) then you need to rethink your pad shape, this could be an indicator of a pad that is too wide and also will result in drying out your sensitive skin. 

Check out a this free pattern from Luna Wolf pads. 

Where can I buy them?

For women with LS, I would not recommend buying your pads. You will have more control over the quality of your product if you get to choose the fabric yourself. Don’t worry if you are awful at sewing. Literally nobody will see your pads (unless you show them) and your pads can have both awful stitching and be completely functional at the same time. If you don’t have a sewing machine you can also hand sew your pads. 

How should I wash them? 

Check out this post of my washing routine. 

What about menstrual cups?

If you can handle inserting and removing a menstrual cup without damaging your LS skin then I say go for it. You will still need to wear a small liner just in case you leak a little but I personally think that using a menstrual cup is better for LS skin. I can’t use a cup until my LS clears up a little bit more. Last time I tried to use one I gave myself bruises and little cuts all over the place. Not fun. If you are just starting out I would get a cup that is very flexible and soft to make it easier to insert. 

There you go! Everything I know about using cloth pads with Lichen Sclerosus! If you have any questions or if you have any tips I didn’t touch on please let me know in the comment section below 🙂 

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