Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics

, 275:415

First online:

Influence of usage practices, ethnicity and climate on the skin compatibility of sanitary pads

  • Miranda FarageAffiliated withThe Procter & Gamble Company, Winton Hill Business Center, Feminine Care Clinical Sciences Email author 
  • , Peter ElsnerAffiliated withKlinik Fur Dermatologie, Friedrich-Schiller-Universitat
  • , Howard MaibachAffiliated withDepartment of Dermatology, University of California

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Modern disposable sanitary pads are becoming available worldwide. Regional differences in usage practices, ethnicity, and climate may influence their skin compatibility. Pad usage practices depend on culture, economics, and menstrual physiology. Daily usage is higher in Japan and but lower in Nigeria compared to North America or Western Europe. Evidence for ethnic differences in skin irritant susceptibility is not compelling. Dark skin may be less susceptible to certain irritants than fair skin; the Japanese may experience a higher degree of sensory irritation than Caucasians. Ambient conditions such as high temperature and humidity increase the skin temperature and skin surface moisture under sanitary pads by small but measurable amounts, causing no discernible skin irritation; vapor-permeable pad backings reduce these effects. Cold dry conditions, which can irritate exposed skin, may not affect vulvar skin to the same degree due to its elevated hydration and occlusion. To address the practical significance of these variables, results of prospective clinical trials of sanitary pads performed by industry and academic scientists in North America (Indiana), Mexico, Western Europe (Munich, Athens, Goteborg, Sweden), Eastern Europe (Kiev) and Africa (Abuja, Nigeria) were reviewed. Despite the diverse range of conditions, no significant adverse skin effects were observed with modern pads compared to traditional pad designs. Study participants generally preferred modern pads for performance and comfort.


Sanitary pads Clinical trials Geographic locations Climate Ethnic groups Irritation Sensory Feminine hygiene products