Lichen Sclerosus and Cloth Pads

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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How I Store My Cloth Pads

When I first started using cloth pads I simply kept my pads directly in my bathroom cabinet. It worked just fine but, as my stash grew, I decided that it was a good time to figure out a way of properly storing them. If you jump on youtube, you’ll probably see many women with massive stashes as well as a massive storage unit for them. For many of us, those systems are just too big for the size stash that we have, which for me, is just big enough to get me through my period, plus some. Below is my list of essential things that I needed from my storage unit.  

My cloth pad storage needed to fulfill 5 things:

  1. It needed to hold my pads, menstrual cup, cloth wipes, and accessories.
  2. It needed to be discrete
  3. It needed to be in the bathroom at arms length
  4. It needed to be cheap
  5. It needed to take as little space as possible  

I decided on the itso Fabric Quarter Bin from target. I bought it for $6, so it’s cheap, and it fits perfectly into my bathroom cabinet, in arms reach. 

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It fits all my pads, including my menstrual cup, pad wrappers, accessories and my cloth wipes. Although I think I’m going to get a separate storage for my wipes becuase I do need to get more of them and I don’t think it will all fit.

cloth pad storage

For a visual, I currently have 5 heavy flow pads, 4 regular pads, 3 liners, 3 individual pad wrappers, a zipper bag, a menstrual cup and a stack of cloth wipes in the container in the picture above. I have about 5 more pads but they are in the wet bag at the moment. As you can see my stash is relatively small and it works perfectly fine for me. Find out how I keep them stain freecloth pad storage

Like I said I keep it in the bathroom cabinet. I keep it in my “lady shelf” where I store all of my lady products, most of which I don’t use anymore. Some of these things have been in here for years! haha. Check out the disposables in the back! I really should get rid of them. I guess I thought they would magically disappear on their own. Haha!! I feel like I should explain some of the things I have in here. What I should really do is clean all that out and take a new picture….nah. The mason jar I use for when a pad or two needs to be soaked. It’s easier than using a big bucket. The pregnancy tests are for, you know, to see if I’m pregnant. I have all sorts of shampoos, conditioners, and body washes back there that I don’t use anymore. I can probably donate some but most are half used, and, of course, my leftover disposable pads from when that was a thing. 

pad storage
real talk

Ok, so thats my storage as of today. I will be moving soon and my new place won’t have such a convenient storage area. I’ll update you when I figure that out!!

How do you store your cloth pads? Any ideas for alternative storage?

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Why I Switched to Cloth Menstrual Pads

I was a late bloomer. At 15, I remember my father walking into my bathroom as I was getting ready for the day, setting an Always brand “First Period” kit on the counter, nod his head at me, and then walk away. That was my introduction into womanhood. No birds and the bees, no talk about what was about to happen to my body and what I’m suppose to do about it. Just a little box on my bathroom counter. My period came later that year and I dutifully opened the box, read the instructions, and proceeded business as usual. 

why-i-switched-to-cloth-menstrual-padsAt the age of 22, I never questioned my use of disposable menstrual products. It was what everyone else used and I never saw any other alternative. The grocery stores only held disposable pads and tampons and I saw no indication that their might be something else out there. At this time I started to have issues, down there, in my lady region. I went to the OBGYN hoping she would just hand over some antibiotics and send me on my way. What I got instead was a lifelong diagnosis. Lichen Sclerosus. The “youngest patient to come through my doors with this condition”, she said. Spectacular. I did what the doctor told me to do; 6 weeks of an incredibly annoying regimen of estrogen and steroids. I went back to my OBGYN for her to check out my hard work. “It looks the same”, she said. Ugh. I jumped right back into another round of 6 weeks of meds with no improvement.

At this point I started to do more research on my condition and read about alternative treatments other people have tried. I learned that what I have is an autoimmune condition that blocks estrogen from reaching parts of the body that needs it. I read that the cause of this condition is not known but controlling what comes into contact with enflamed skin was essential. I had to think long and hard about my choice of underwear, and of course, menstrual products I used. That’s when I came across the term, rumps, or reusable menstrual products. Apparently, there was an alternative to disposable pads. Not only was it an alternative but a infinitely safer alternative. It had never occurred to me that chemicals used to create disposable pads could be harmful or could be causing me pain. I took me forever to realize that after every period I would have a major flare up. Flareups that took weeks to control. 

I learned that the synthetic fibers that were exceptional for absorption were also exceptional at drying out my vagina which would cause my symptoms to explode in severity.

I began playing with the idea of using cloth pads but I couldn’t get the image of a victorian-era women with a bloody towel between her legs. I watched youtube videos and read blogs about women who use cloth pads and I begun warming up to the idea. I bought my first pad from Yurtcraft, an pad maker on Etsy, and never looked back. I’ve used cloth pads ever since. My flareups post-period are gone but I am still using my medication. Because of the Lichen Sclerosus, I have to be careful about which material my pads are made from and what dyes are used so I make my own pads. They don’t look pretty but they work just fine. I try to stick to non-dyed cotton as I know it won’t irritate my skin. Check out how I keep them stain free

stashSo there it is. The reason I switched to cloth pads. I wanted a healthier alternative that would align with what my body needed. I hope that one day reusable menstrual products are as mainstream as it’s disposable counterpart. I hope that making posts like this makes period talk less taboo so we can open up the discussion for healthy alternatives.

What was your reason for making the switch or, if you haven’t switched yet, what worries you most about switching?  

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