Background: The cutaneous effects and suitability of a sanitary pad have been studied
globally. Potassium alum has been used in menstrual pads as an antiseptic, astringent, deodorizer and
antiperspirants. The aim of this study is to assess safety and suitability of a sanitary pad containing
potassium alum (test) in comparison of simple pads (control) on healthy women residing in Iran.
Methods: This was a phase III cross-over study design, conducted on 16 healthy women over the
course of two menstrual periods. The levels of erythema, fissuring, edema and papule formation as
well as burning, and itching sensations have been evaluated based on clinical observations and
interviews. Measurement of pH and swabs for bacteria counting of vulvar skin were also performed.
The subjects used one type of sanitary pad during their first menstrual period and then used the other
type during their subsequent menstrual period. Then the evaluations were repeated and the subjects
were asked to complete self-assessment questionnaires about product suitability.
Results: All the volunteers (age: 18-50, mean: 37.43) completed the study. No signs of irritation were
found in the clinical observations or in the interviews for either product. No significant difference
from baseline was found in the number of total bacteria for either product but the vulvar areas were
significantly more acidic after using product with potassium alum. The majority of subjects preferred
the sanitary pad with potassium alum (p-value = 0.0416).
Conclusion: Both types of sanitary pads used in this trial were same, however, the pad with
Potassium alum was preferred by the participants for greater suitability.