Sex can be a lot of fun, but it can also cause some unwanted side effects. Whenever you become that intimate with another person, your body is bound to have a reaction, and sometimes that can result in some skin problems from having sex. Some are temporary and harmless, while others come in the form of an STI, but either way, they can seem pretty alarming if you're not aware of what they are. It shouldn't scare you off from ever hitting the sheets, but knowing what can happen to your skin post-intercourse can help you take the proper precautions to make sure you're protecting yourself and your skin.
"Prolonged skin to skin contact and sweat and friction under intimate circumstances can lead to skin issues," says dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, MD FAAD over email. There's a lot happening during sex that can make your skin go awry, whether it's on your face, your vagina, or some other part of your body, so it's no surprise that there's sometimes a reaction.
Practicing safe sex is a good way to begin looking out for your skin, but other issues just occur as a result of all that movement between the sheets. Here are nine skin problems you can get from having sex.
1. Latex Or Lube Allergy
"If your vagina feels itchy or irritated immediately after sex and you used a latex condom, you may have a latex allergy," says dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban over email. "Solve this by using hydrocortisone cream and by switching contraception methods. You may also have an allergy to lubricant. Switch to an organic, chemical-free lubricant instead."
2. Skin Tears
Sexual intercourse can cause little vaginal cuts and tears in your skin that are harmless, but can be painful. "If you experience bleeding after intercourse, it can signal multiple problems," says Shamban. "Occasionally it can be due to tiny tears at the introitus. Use a Sitz bath, and call your doctor if it doesn't stop bleeding or is extremely painful."
3. Yeast Infection
" Vaginal yeast infections can also occur, causing itching and a cheesy discharge," says Shamban. A yeast infection isn't sexually transmitted, but it can occur after sex due to changes in the skin or if your partner is infected.
4. Genital Warts
Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and are soft growths that appear on the genitals, according to healthline.com. "Fewer people these days let their pubic hair grow very long, which means people are more likely to get genital warts because there is more direct skin-to-skin contact due to less hair being in the way," says dermatologist David Lortscher, MD over email. The HPV vaccine Gardasil can help protect you from the most common HPV strains that cause genital warts, along with wearing a condom.
Although sex can actually help your complexion by improving blood circulation, it can also cause breakouts between the friction, sweat, and other oils. "Sweat alone does not cause acne, but sweat can mix with makeup, bacteria, oils and other impurities on your skin," says RealSelf contributor and dermatologic surgeon Dr. Sejal Shah over email. "If the skin is not cleansed, this mixture can settle into your pores, clogging them and leading to acne." Keeping your skin clean after sex can help prevent breakouts. If you can't shower, consider using a cleansing wipe instead.
"Herpes can be easily transmitted during sex, and most often will occur on genitals and oral locations but can occur on other parts of the body," says Papantoniou. "To prevent this, use protection with partners, and optimally have testing for STDs prior."
7. Allergic Contact Dermatitis
"Allergic contact dermatitis can occur if you are sensitive to cologne or body sprays being used by either partner," says Papantoniou. "This will show up 1-3 days later and will present as an itchy rash in areas of contact." This one can't always be avoided if you're not aware of what your partner is wearing, but it will go away, and hydrocortisone can be applied for relief, according to webmd.com.
8. Irritant Dermatitis
You can also get skin irritation from the rubbing of short hairs on the body or face. "This happens from friction with short sharp hairs," says Papatoniou. "Either shave closely before contact or allow the hairs to grow longer to prevent irritation."
Trichomoniasis is an STI that occurs five to 28 days after a person is infected, according to healthline.com. It can cause genital burning and itching, redness and swelling, and painful urination, and is often accompanied by a gray, frothy discharge with an unpleasant smell. It can be treated with antibiotics, and you can lower your risk of getting trichomoniasis by using a condom.