“People think that if they can use a baby wet wipe they can use it for themselves,” says Evan Goldstein, DO, anal surgeon and founder of the Future Method. However, while wet wipes can make you think If you’re cleaning your butt, they can actually cause a ton of complications that you might not want to face in the long run. Aside from the major environmental concerns—which is a big deal—wet wipes aren’t the best option for your anal health.
Wet wipes can mess up your skin’s microbiome
Just like your face, anus and surrounding skin are covered with good and bad bacteria, they work together to find homeostasis and keep your intimate area in tip-top shape. “This is very important, so when you start strengthening [microbiome] With wet wipes, what happens is you’re wiping away good bacteria and balance becomes an issue,” says Dr. Goldstein. When there’s an imbalance, you can get irritation, rashes or fungal infections. or bacteria.” With the homeostasis in the biome being altered, harmful bacteria start to proliferate like fungi or irritation, which I’ve always seen,” he said, noting that a prominent sign of this This is redness and whole body discomfort.And, BTW: Even wet wipes are “free chemistry” that will do this.
Another big risk when using wet wipes is the moisture factor. “People tend to use a wet towel and then pull their pants up, so what happens is moisture gets in there,” says Dr. Goldstein. “Moisture just festers and it causes a change in bacteria and leads to irritation.” If this keeps happening, he notes that people may feel as though they have cracked or hemorrhoids when really it’s just an accumulation of irritation and bad bacteria. If you experience something like this, make an appointment with your doctor to see what’s going on.
Wet wipes are also bad for the environment
Moreover, wet wipes can also cause major problems for the health of the toilet ecosystem. “They often get clogged in the plumbing and get swept up in rivers and streams, which becomes a big problem,” says Dr. Goldstein. Wet wipes and other waste products (like grease) can build up in our drainage systems, creating giant “icebergs” that clog pipes and damage wastewater infrastructure. (Although some wipes are advertised as “flushable” or “safe for the suspect,” environmental groups argue that none of them are actually safe for the water system. our waste.) The problem got so bad that in 2021, Congress introduced a bill that would create a standard for labeling non-flush wipes. It has yet to be passed and signed into law.
The wet wipes themselves also contain plastic that doesn’t break down over time, with dire consequences for the health of our planet. A 2021 study published in Environmental challenges found that wet wipes are a major cause of marine microplastic pollution when handled improperly (aka flushing)—which affects the safety of the water supply as well as the health of the system. ocean ecology. Another study in 2022 found that plastic waste in wastewater (such as wet wipes) carries harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as E coli Direct access to beaches and ocean habitats.
What should I use to wipe my butt instead?
According to Dr. Goldstein, wet wipes should never be when useful. Your options are toilet paper and bidet instead. Dr. Goldstein is an advocate of the latter.
Why? Well, toilet paper, although designed to biodegrade (and therefore not a major cause of icebergs), is still not good for the environment. A 2019 report from the National Resource Defense Council found that demand for toilet paper in the United States contributes to industrial logging that accounts for more than one million acres of Canadian forests each year. According to the World Wildlife Federation, deforestation in Indonesia has doubled, mainly due to the production of pulp, paper and palm oil. And fewer natural forests = less carbon capture from trees and greater disruption to native species and ecosystems.
Meanwhile, bidets—a staple in many countries outside of the US—can be an effective way to reduce paper consumption *and* get your booty really clean. Urologist Lamia Gabal, MD, previously told Well + Good, “I very often recommend the bidet to my patients with recurrent UTIs.” “I feel it helps to completely remove the stool, reducing bacteria in the area and, therefore, reducing the risk of infection.” There are even portable bidets so you can keep your loot clean on the go.
However, bids are not necessarily cheap and installation is required, which may not be possible for everyone (especially renters). In that case, TP is fine, especially if you opt for some of the more eco-friendly toilet paper options.
But whatever you do, please, please Get rid of those wet wipes — for your sake as well as the planet’s.