Let’s face the cold, hard truth: when it comes to moisturizing, men generally just aren’t as attentive as women. During the winter especially, it’s not uncommon to shake the hand of a dude you just met and think to yourself, “Wow, this guy reminds me a lot of the pet iguana I had growing up.” But when it comes to proper moisturizing protocol, should you put lotion on your nether regions?
The short answer is: it depends. If you’re not experiencing any dryness, itching, or flaking of the skin, then you likely don’t need to apply a moisturizer. In fact, the genital region is typically fairly moist, so in some cases, over-moisturizing could lead to a fungal infection like jock itch.
But if you do notice that the area around your scrotum is dry, red, and cracked (and if you consult with your dermatologist beforehand), it could be worth developing a down-there skincare regimen, particularly because the skin around your genitals is more susceptible to irritation and chafing from things like sports and sexual activity.
To answer all your burning questions about down-there skin care, we talked to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology, about how to keep the family jewels in tip-top condition.
Let’s start off with some Skincare 101: the outer skin layer serves the important role of protecting your body from the outside world. When this barrier is disrupted, the skin may lose hydration, which could lead to dryness, flaking, and itching. Genetics might play a role in having dry skin, but other external factors include weather changes, over-washing or scrubbing, allergies, and irritation.
Just like any other body part, the skin on your balls can become dry and irritated, particularly if you're prone to dry skin, to begin with. Unfortunately, Zeichner says, most men do not typically adopt a strict moisturizing regimen (for their balls or otherwise). “There is a false perception among my patients that men do not need the same skin care as women do,” Zeichner told Men’s Health. “However, men's skin is just as sensitive and just as at risk for skin problems as women's skin is."
When it comes to your balls specifically, Zeichner says that the skin in your genital area may be more susceptible to irritation. For instance, if you regularly engage in intense physical activity, such as running or lifting weights, that can lead to chafing and rubbing of the skin, which can cause inflammation, dryness, and irritation. As for sexual activity, if you have extremely sensitive skin, bumping uglies can actually cause low levels of inflammation to the skin, while exposure to bodily fluids may compound these reactions.
Plus, if you’re manscaping down there, razor burn from disruption of the skin barrier is fairly common, so post-shaving moisturizing can help to keep the skin healthy, says Zeichner.
If you want to start moisturizing your balls, try to choose a soap that isn’t harsh and irritating, such as a gentle cleansing bar that won’t irritate the skin and offers moisturization while still removing dirt and oil. The Dove Beauty Bar is a good pick.
When it comes to choosing a moisturizer, Zeichner recommends light lotions, "rather than heavier creams or ointments that can leave your skin moist and more susceptible to
bacterial or fungal overgrowth," he says. The newest generation of moisturizers are light, easy to apply, and fully absorbent instead of sitting on top of your skin.
While there are lotions available specifically for your balls, Zeichner instead recommends something simple like Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented lotion. If you already have raw, chapped skin, try a product like Cerave Healing Ointment, which can form a protective seal over the skin. Be sure to wipe off any excess cream before you put on underwear (no one enjoys walking around with overly moist balls all day).
If you do want to start moisturizing your balls, be sure to wash off any skincare products from the genital area before doing the dirty, so they don’t cause irritation to your partner’s orifices. After all, what’s the point of having a perfectly moisturized package if it ends up causing problems for someone else?
Wear breathable cotton underwear, and avoid products with fragrance. While you may be tempted to try to improve the scent of your niblets, fragranced lotions can cause skin allergies and irritation.
Above all else, know that there ain’t no shame in developing a down-there skincare game. Whether it's below the belt or not, skincare is important for men and women alike, and if you get the OK from your derm, occasionally moisturizing your balls is a small price to pay for a silky-smooth package. "With proper education, we can get men to be as diligent as women about skincare," says Zeichner.
You heard the doctor, boys. Step your game up.