by Kimberly Pangaro | Kimberly is a mom of four daughters and the owner of the lifestyle parenting media company Atomic Mommy. When she’s not running her company or momming all day, she’s writing about family life. UPDATED: November 7, 2021.
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The average week as a parent has its moments, of clarity and insanity, which inevitably leads to epic mom fails. Add in a lack of sleep for days on end and there’s bound to be some catastrophic tails of how we failed our children and ourselves. Case in point, a charcoal hoo-ha! If that’s not an epic mom fail, I don’t know what it is.
How Does A Charcoal Hoo-Ha Happen?
After a week long, barrage of sleepless nights, my mornings were extremely hazy. Each day was more of a blur than the last. Four nights in a row and the eyelids were stuck in their place.
I could barely open them up when the alarm would go off. It was like one of my kids tried pranking me by using Elmer’s Glue to glue my eyelids shut.
Now, before I tell you what happened next, let me add a mini warning. It’s a very graphic tale and not for the faint of heart, even though I’m looking back and laughing as I write it because it’s really funny now.
In every stage of a woman’s life, we go through stuff. We go through serious stuff!
The older we get, the crazier our hormones get. We get moody, we suffer from severe bouts of insanity and we do the weirdest and craziest things from flashing total strangers to getting drunk in people’s basements, to smoking cigarettes, painting our nails black and piercing our bodies with holes and ugly looking jewelry likes horns and glow-in-the-dark hoops. We are constantly going through phases of finding ourselves.
Motherhood is no different and is definitely not without its surprises. We can all agree on that. After giving birth to my third daughter, one of those surprises was Cystic Vaginal Acne, better known as Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). I explain what this is in the next section. First, let’s get to the hoo-ha dilemma.
Whenever I have a flare-up of this newly found surprise, I use a barrier. This is helpful especially during the summer months where the flare-ups are frequent.
Enter my morning bathroom routine for the summer months. Each morning, I wake up and use the loo, place a cotton panty liner in my undies, and use a Q-Tip to put the ointment on my hoo-ha. Remember when I said I had lost sleep for four nights in a row? That 5th morning was my epic mom fail!
My eyes were so tired I could barely see anything and instead of placing the Aquaphor ointment down there, I accidentally placed a Q-tip filled with charcoal toothpaste in the area you least expect to ever do so!
At first, I didn’t notice anything, so I pulled my undies back up and began brushing my teeth with… you guessed it, charcoal toothpaste!
About thirty seconds later, my *ahem* area started to tingle, then burned slightly, and then it felt like someone lit me on fire! I pulled my panties down only to find the black goo I had carefully put on moments earlier.
As fast as I could, I jumped into the shower while screaming in pain. My husband ran into the bathroom wondering if I had fallen in the toilet. The eruptions of his laughter were not helpful when he found the toothpaste smeared all over my vajayjay.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I ended up with the funniest and most painful epic mom fail to date. Nowadays, it certainly gives me a deep laugh when I think of how dumb a move I made.
Earlier I Mentioned Vag Acne, So What Is Cystic Vaginal Acne?
HS or Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic skin condition with recurring, painful lumps that look like boils. Never knew it existed, never thought I’d be a victim of it. Needless to say, I didn’t love the spontaneous visits because I was always unprepared.
Imagine yourself bombarded by a dozen or so prickly flowers in your panties… see image below for a more literal understanding of what it feels like. When they arrive, at first you feel a slight tickle of the skin, then a slightly larger feeling of an itch near each one, then the pain comes and then with friction, more pain, and more pain, until finally they either burst or your skin swells with cystic fluid and you feel like you need to pop them.
Whatever you do, never pop them!
Several gynecologists have told me that it was due to my hormones and have provided no real treatment for them other than swabbing them to make sure they’re not herpes. Each time they had come back negative for herpes and other similar tests, my gynecologists would give me stumped looks and then just tell me to take warm baths, use witch hazel and those sitz baths that new moms would use after giving birth.
This condition is not limited to just women. In fact, it is very common affecting 1 in 300 people. HS is sometimes referred to as inverse acne because it mimics the type of cystic acne that affects teens.
Just like facial acne, vaginal acne can be severe or mild. I’m one of the luckier ones where it is mild, with few attacks per year and not many stay for a visit. When it does happen, it can be itchy, painful, and can grow large in warmer weather especially if you are wearing tight clothing preventing the area from receiving proper ventilation. To help ease the discomfort, there are many OTC (over-the-counter) methods you can use to battle the issue.
Though the condition is common it is often misdiagnosed and in my case has been multiple times. Now, I opt for other remedies that involve topical creams.
What Do I Use to Help Treat It?
Keep in mind, I am not a doctor. I am just a mom who has no time for doctors to keep telling her what it’s not. And I have no time for prescription medications that leave me with weird side effects. So, what I do to treat my cystic vaginal acne may not work for you. What does this mean for you? It means, don’t try this at home without consulting your doctor first. Discuss your options with your doctors before you try anything.
Now that I’ve warned you to not try my method, I’ll explain what I actually do that has diminished the amount of cystic acne flare-ups I have per year by at least 70%. I say 70% because I used to get them all year, at least once a month during my periods, and several lumps would come for a visit lasting longer than a month.
I made small changes to my lifestyle and daily routine that helped dramatically reduce the occurrence. Now, I only have flare-ups in the summer months and not as many show up.
When I do have flare-ups, I add a barrier of the clear Aquaphor to the area to assist in preventing ultra-annoying friction rubbing.
I also wear 100% organic cotton panty liners and 100% cotton panties. The panty liners are a precaution in case any lumps rupture. They allow for breathability. The cotton panties do the same.
Because the summers are so hot, I have opted out of wearing tight shorts. Now, I wear cute dresses, skirts, and boyfriend shorts which allow for lots of fresh air to keep the area cool.
If pain occurs and a large cyst hasn’t ruptured on its own, I take an anti-inflammatory OTC such as Aleve or Tylenol if the Aleve doesn’t work.
These methods are meant to alleviate the symptoms and are not prevention treatments for the issue itself.
I learned an extremely valuable from this whole charcoal toothpaste hoo-ha error. It was to make sure my eyes are actually open when I do my morning routine. The second lesson I learned was to never put charcoal anything down there, ever again!
This whole epic mom fail has me thinking, “There must be others out there who have had an epic mom fail that they laugh about too.” I’d love to hear some of them.
Learn more. Visit The International Society For The Study Of Vulvovaginal Disease and be sure to visit a doctor for any conditions.