Ultimate guide to women hygiene while traveling.
For a woman, maintaining healthy hygiene during treks are so much more challenging and inconvenient as compared to males. A woman should consider all the possible circumstances and be prepared to avoid any cross-contaminations, bacterial infections and health issues that are more likely to arise while travelling.
It is a critical topic to be understood and proper precautions should be taken to remain healthy and be fit to trek.The preparations should include proper packing of all the items required for hygiene purpose, and maintain precaution related with health.
Below are few tips and guide for female trekker or hiker to maintain hygiene.
1. While Packing
Listing out of all the items required for health purpose is a very smart thing to do. Every woman should include the following items in their “hygiene kit” because they are worth more than the space they occupy in your backpack.
“Best health comes from within”
This can also be an additional reference for wearing comfortable undergarment for health and hygiene. Why is comfortable garment essential and what kind to wear is a question females should dwell on.
Underwear should be of the correct material especially those that dry out fast, are slightly stretchable and have moisture and odor control up to some level. Emphasizedrecommendationsfor material would preferably be cotton, merino wool or synthetics that is easy on your skin while walking.
Loose fitting shirts/top
Tops should be a bit loose rather than fitting ones because it provides ventilation and helps to dry out your sweat faster. On contrary if you wear a fitting top it is more likely to become sweatier inside by keeping the moisture trapped in for a longer time which is very unhygienic. It will create a greasy feeling, bacterial growth and also the misbalance of body heat.
You should always be prepared for not finding a place to shower or a place lacking proper water facilities in some routes while trekking. Wet wipes can be a good option for a quick clean up like cleaning up your armpit or greasy body part. It can also be used to clean your private part down there which needs proper clean up and decontamination as much as possible.
This way it becomes handier and also note that it becomes even more useful during female menstruation as it can get messier.
Ziploc bags are the ultimate savior as it compresses air inside and tightly seals your items, avoiding direct entry of outside air. You can pack it up in quite a handful number because it can be handy anytime whether it be to pack up unwashed undergarments, separate stinky unwashed socks, dispose pads, or even save your clothes from soaking during heavy rainfall.
Talc And Sanitizer
Talc helps soak up excessive sweat and also loosens down friction in between body parts thus providing a great help for trekkers. It is also okay to put down a little bit of talc around your genital area to avoid constant brushing and bruising because of close contact with the underwear.
And a sanitizer is a MUST to help you keep your hands safe from bacteria. It will definitely help a lot in keeping you away from cross-contaminations. However, if there is water available then wash your hands properly and frequently.
2. While trekking
The experience for hygiene maintenance begins on the trek is a real issues. How well you manage your hygiene while trekking defines how safe and healthy you will remain throughout the trek for best trekking experience.
It is essential to keep the genital area as dry as possible else it will become a breeding ground for bacteria. Clean your private parts and dry it out whenever possible because shower facilities is not available all the time.
Wash your underwear
Like the possible limitation of water source has been stated earlier it would be smart to wash your underwear where it’s possible. It would be better if you wash it at your end destination for the day (so that you can leave it to dry overnight).
It is essential to take a lot of water and remain hydrated we sweat out a lot which reduces the water level required by our body. Hydration allows our body to cool down and maintain our body temperature alongside cleansing the body and lubricating the joints as we walk long distances.
Don’t just pee anywhere
When you are into the wild and really need to pee, you don’t think and just squat to pee anywhere. But that is dangerous and a little less brainy of you. It is important to remember that not all plants are friendly and not everywhere is safe. Peeing directly on the plants might cause allergies to your exposed genitals.
So no matter how urgent it is find a safe surface area where you can pee without any obstacles or harm on your way.
Use panty liners
Panty liners are absorbent material, similar to a pad but thinner in size and narrower. Usually while walking a lot, female bodies have increased watery fluid/vaginal discharge. Panty liners are a great way to absorb the discharge and helps in making you feel fresh all day. However, don’t forget to change it when you need to!
3. While on your period
Periodic cycle can be a very hectic thing to deal with as it is more accustomed to infections and physical strain. However, you do not have to worry about it if you know the right hacks to dealing with your period correctly and safely.
Take a break
Menstruation naturally weakens female body; the degree of pain and weakness can vary from average to strong menstrual cramps and bleeding. The cost of health is higher above the cost of anything thus the best option to do while you are on your period is to have a good rest day.
It will help your body to relax and helps you collect enough energy to begin the trek when you are ready and confident of yourself. So if you need to take a break then you have to rest.
The right menstrual material
You know what is best for youso carry the right period materials (pads, tampons, Ruby cup) according to your use and ease.
- Pads are flexible, absorbent and comfortable. It needs to be changed every 3-4 hours depending on the bleeding which can be very hectic especially on treks. It has chances of more pungent odor and there are more chances of bacterial growth on blood that is exposed directly on the pad.
- Tamponsare designed to be easily inserted into the vagina during menstruation and absorb the menstrual flow. It is convenient as it lasts upto 4-8 hours.
- Ruby cup (Highly recommended) is easy to use, lightweight and lasts up to 12 hours with no risk of overflow.
- Pad disposal hacks
Many Trekkers do prefer pads/ tampons as per their ease of use. However, it is necessary to change and dispose them properly.
For disposal, you can roll the pad into smaller size and then wrap it in a paper or also wrap with the packet cover of the next pad you are about to wear. After this, lock it in a Ziploc bag and dispose it where it’s feasible.
(*Do not throw it away in the environment)
Deal with excess bleeding
Excessive bleeding can happen and it is quite challenging to deal with that because there is a fear of blood leaks and stains that can be quite messy and embarrassing to deal with. For that, you can either use tampon insertion and a pad on the underwear (Just in case the tampon expands too much and cannot handle the blood flow).
Or If you prefer pads, try wearing double underwear. On the first underwear you wear a pad and on the second panty you can wear a piece of cloth that is properly folded into rectangular pad shape. This will help to soak any excess blood overflowing from the pad and will also provide a cushiony effect that will be more comfortable while sitting.
Use of lukewarm water
Periods are a messy business, the stains and grime still sticks to the genital area even if it is being constantly washed and monitored. Thus, if available wash it with lukewarm water which quickly rinses the dirt, is comforting to the skin and reduces bacterial infestation.
It is better if this process is done just before sleep because it calls for a neat and healthy rest for the night.
Use an extra shawl
The idea of carrying an extra shawl maybe unusual to you but it is quite helpful in many different ways depending upon your circumstances. In somecases it can be used as a sheet beneath you while sleeping in order to prevent spotting from period blood directly in the bedsheet. It is a good way of creating a barrier for contamination to a certain level.
Coming towards the end of the article, we have understood how important for women to realize the essence of “female hygiene” and ways to cope up with it.
SHE can trek confidently and with ease only when SHE is healthy from within.