Sharing her story on Twitter the woman, who goes by the username @amorgxn, said: "A year ago today, I woke up with an Always pad stuck to my bum, after twisting during the night. This caused a rash the next day and after a weekend of pain, I was admitted to hospital with necrotising fasciitis and septic shock."
Necrotising fasciitis, according to the NHS, is "a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs (fascia)." Due to the toxins released by the bacteria, that damage nearby tissue, necrotising fasciitis is sometimes called the "flesh-eating disease".
"I couldn’t breathe," the woman went on. "My kidneys were starting to struggle, my blood wasn’t flowing properly but my pulse was 145bpm. Even though I need[ed] emergency surgery, my vitals were so bad that the doctors said I wouldn’t survive it."
She continued: "I had a blood transfusion and was constantly pumped with drugs to get my blood pressure to increase because it was critically low. Finally on the 20th May, I was strong enough to have my debridement surgery and get the infected tissue in my bum cut out."
A year ago today, I woke up with an Always pad stuck to my bum, after twisting during the night. This caused a rash the next day and after a weekend of pain, I was admitted to hospital with necrotising fasciitis and septic shock.
— A.Morgs (@amorgxn) May 13, 2022
Explaining what happened next, @amorgxn says she spent 10 days in intensive care followed by a further seven days on a normal ward and a second surgery to close the wound left behind after her first operation.
"I’ve seen a lot of women in Africa complain about how terrible Always pads are. Pads that I had been using in the UK for 14 years with no issues," the woman added. "I will never use their products again (not that my period has returned since then), and I advise all women in Africa to do the same."
Describing the sanitary towel brand, she concluded: "Nothing but chemicals and bad vibes."
I spent a total of 10 days in ICU and 7 days on the regular ward. In September I had a follow up skin flap surgery to close the wound of the original surgical site.
— A.Morgs (@amorgxn) May 13, 2022
After her tweets were posted, other women shared their experience with the period products brand, with one woman tweeting: "I think this is it for me. Been wondering why I'm always itching post period whenever I use their product. It's crazy!" Elsewhere, another person said, "Had painful [th]rush problems with Always and changed to cotton, no problems since the switch. I know what you are talking about."
What has Always said about the claims?
In response to the claims, a spokesperson for Always told Cosmopolitan UK: "Everyone wants what's best for their body, and when there’s a question about safety, we take that concern very seriously. We want to reassure you that our products are safe and you can continue to use them with confidence.
"The Always products we sell everywhere in the world including Kenya and Nigeria meet the same rigorous, internationally-recognized standards for safety and quality as products sold in the EU, North America, and across the globe."
The spokesperson continued, "We are very sorry to hear of this person’s experience and when we discovered her complaint on Twitter, we quickly reached out and are now working with her to better understand what happened."
Are there actually any risks to using a sanitary towel?
Explaining if developing a condition like this is possible – or likely to happen if you use a sanitary towel – Dr Nitu Bajekal, obstetrician, gynaecologist and co-author of Living PCOS Free, tells us: "Yes, it is possible but I must stress that this is an extremely rare situation."
As for whether period-having people should be concerned after hearing of this woman's story, Dr Bajekal adds, "This is not something people should worry about ordinarily." However, the expert advises that if you notice a rash, swelling, blisters or redness on the skin that does not settle quickly or is accompanied by a high temperature, diarrhoea, vomiting or intense pain, or you have a background medical condition that increases risk of infection (or indeed if you are concerned), then it is "best to seek medical advice sooner rather than later" to "avoid serious consequences."
"It is better to be reassured rather than be reluctant to seek medical help," she points out.
"There are no real dangers from using a disposable period pad," Dr Bajekal tells us. "However, it is advisable to change pads frequently every few hours, especially if the pad is soaked through and not changed, the wet moist environment can make it easier for bacteria to enter through any break or cuts in the skin, increasing the likelihood of a rash or infection (like a nappy rash)."
However, the expert adds, "in certain circumstances, especially if there is a background of the person having compromised immunity or diabetes, excess body weight, cancer or prolonged immobility, there is an increased risk of skin breaks, and bacteria can enter."
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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