It’s more common than you think, but is it cause for concern? We discuss vulva itch symptoms and treatments (plus the surprisingly common cause that’s super easy to remedy!)
About 1 in 10 women see a doctor about a persistently itchy vulva, so if you are suffering from this now, you are not alone! It can affect women of any age, during pregnancy, before, during or after periods, and during menopause – basically at any stage of your life! When itching or irritation occurs in the vulva, it can be super uncomfortable, interfere with your sex life and disturb your precious sleep. We speak to Dr Lynette Lee from The Skincare Clinic about what causes that annoying itch and what you can do about it (one remedy is easier than you think)!
Q. I’m persistently itchy down there. Can I treat this with something over the counter?
Occasional genital itching and irritation aren’t a major concern but because vulva itch can be symptoms of an infection, with regular or persisting vaginal or vulva itch it’s best to see your doctor. An itchy vulva can lead to scratching and rubbing which can break the skin and can lead to soreness, bleeding and skin infections.
Q. What are the most common causes of vulva itch?
1. Bacterial vaginosis: an overgrowth of bacteria naturally found in your vagina. If there are too many anaerobic bacteria (the bad as opposed to good bacteria), the natural balance of microorganisms is upset leading to bacterial vaginosis. Douching (rinsing out your vagina with water or soap) is a big no no as this upsets the natural balance of bacteria – your vulva is self-cleaning, so step away from the douching (and soaps aren’t necessary either).
2. Yeast infections: if other symptoms include abnormal discharge, soreness and pain, you could have thrush or another vaginal infection. See your doctor for treatment.
3. Sensitive vulva skin, such as contact dermatitis: Many things can cause an allergic reaction or irritate your vulva skin including vaginal discharge, sweat, and urine plus things like wet wipes and pantyliners. See our dos and don’ts below! For any skin conditions such as eczema, it’s best to see the doctor for a diagnosis and remedy plan.
4. Menopause (or Perimenopause – the years leading up to menopause): A reduction in estrogen levels causes your vagina lining to become drier and thinner (and thus itchy). Speak to your doctor about possible treatment.
In more serious cases, vulva itch could be a sign of cancer of the vulval skin and systemic conditions causing generalised body itch, such as uncontrolled diabetes.
Q. What can I do to prevent or cure the itch?
As mentioned before, if the itch persists, see a doctor to rule out causes. You can also try these easy dos and don’ts:
DOs and DON’Ts
- Don’t use soap (especially scented soaps) on your vulva.
- Do use an unscented (instead of scented) moisturising cream if needed.
- Don’t use bubble baths, scented toilet paper or scented pantyliners.
- Don’t ever, ever douche. OK?
- Do wear loose cotton underwear that is breathable, and avoid nylon or synthetic underwear material which tends to block fresh air and causes you to sweat more.
- Do change your underwear daily.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes such as cycling shorts, yoga pants or leggings. Skirts and dresses are better than trousers. The aim is to allow some air to get to the vulva, and not to let it become too sweaty.
- Don’t shave pubic hair as this can cause the skin to be itchy around your pubic area.
Need a professional opinion? The Skincare Clinic can treat vulva itch
The Skincare Clinic has experience dealing with a range of skin conditions and ailments, including vulva itch! Their skincare professionals aim to treat patients in a judgement-free zone and will hear out all your issues before advising the best course of action. Proper diagnosis and treatment are vital to get relief from vulva itch. Many women hesitate to see a doctor despite facing such symptoms, but we hope we have convinced you how common this is and that there is no reason to feel embarrassed!
Ready to book a consultation and put an end to your discomfort? The Skincare Clinic, is an all-female team, led by Medical Director, Dr Lynette Lee, who has been working in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital Dermatology department since 2015, and sees women with various skin conditions, providing a discreet and caring service. Give The Skincare Clinic a call today!
The Skincare Clinic, Camden Medical, 1 Orchard Boulevard #06-05, Singapore 248649, Tel: (+65) 8866 0605, skincareclinic.sg