‘Red-raw’ reaction to bath bombs
Bath bombs have left two young girls, in separate cases, in red-hot pain after what should have been an enjoyable soak in the tub.
Each girl experienced similar vaginal irritation after using bath bombs bought from two nationwide retailers.
Christchurch mother Amy Hooper said she thought she was giving her 2-year-old daughter, Ivy, a treat when she put her in the bath with a bath bomb bought from Kmart.
When Hooper took her out of the bath, she said she was ‘‘red-raw, raised and sore’’.
‘‘I was really surprised because she has never had a reaction to soap or bath products before.’’
She treated the ‘‘really bad rash’’ with a ‘‘soothing cream’’ and the irritation eased and went away the following day.
Another mother, Colleen O’Hanlon, said her 4-year-old daughter, Bridie Simpson, experienced a similar soreness after bathing with a bath bomb from Lush – the first and only time she had done so.
‘‘She was crying, itchy and sore straight after the bath and saying that her bottom was hurting,’’ she said.
O’Hanlon was given a box of the bombs as a gift but said she would not be using them for any member of the family in future.
Chemicals found in both the essential oils and colourings in the bombs are likely to blame said Ian Page, the spokesman for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
‘‘Colourings can contain many chemicals, any of which may be able to trigger irritation in susceptible people.’’
He said the essential oils are typically chosen for their aroma or smell, and are not recommended for undiluted application to skin.
‘‘Although they will be highly diluted in a bath, if someone is particularly sensitive they may still have a reaction.’’
Family Planning national medical advisor Dr Christine Roke said it was common for people with sensitive skin to react to soap products on their genitals.
For most women it was much better to just wash with water, she said, ‘‘you really don’t need to use soap down there’’.
Roke said the very alkaline properties of soap has the potential to upset the vagina’s natural acidic pH level.
‘‘If the ingredients seep into the vagina they can disturb the normal bacteria which are there to protect the area, leading to discharge.’’
She said a reaction should settle within a few days, but if it did not they should see a health professional.
Lush Ethics Director Hilary Jones said most people could use their products without any issues, but reactions were not unheard of.
‘‘Experiencing redness or itching after bathing can be something that is experienced regularly by some people or as a one off or occasional experience for others,’’ she said.
‘‘Tracking down the source of an unexpected reaction can be difficult, but we would always recommend people to stop using the bathing product they used at the time of the reaction, to treat the skin kindly by keeping it clean and dry until it calms down and to seek medical help if irritation is severe or persistent.
‘‘Children and post-menopause women are known to be somewhat more likely to have occasional reactions or allergies, due to different oestrogen levels.
‘‘But for the unlucky few it can mean a lot of detective work to discover what their body is reacting to.’’