We know that lube makes everything wetter, which is definitely a good thing. But certain lubes may contain ingredients that can irritate the skin in particularly sensitive areas. If you use lube during sex or masturbation and, shortly afterwards, you notice that your genitals or the surrounding skin are swollen, red, itchy, irritated, or breaking out into a rash or hives, then you might be reacting to one of the ingredients. (These symptoms can also be explained by another condition such as a yeast infection, some STIs, a latex allergy, or even a semen allergy, so it’s always a good idea to check with a doctor to be sure.)
Finding a lube that works for you can be very individual, because different people react to different ingredients. However, some common lube ingredients that can cause irritation include glycerin, parabens, and propylene glycol. If you know you have a sensitivity to a certain ingredient, always check the label.
When choosing a lube, weigh the pros and cons of different types — for example, oil-based lubes are incompatible with latex condoms, and certain natural lubes, like coconut oil, may reduce the risk of an allergic reaction but increase the risk of other conditions. "There are lots of organic lubes sold that have good ingredients, but even those have things that could cause a yeast infection," Megan Stubbs, a certified sexologist, previously told Refinery29.
Lube should make you feel good, not itchy — so if you’re looking for a lube for sensitive skin, here are a few suggestions to get you started.