An itchy vulva is hard to ignore. And it always seems to happen at the worst possible moment. One minute you’re giving that big presentation at work or enjoying a romantic dinner, the next you’re using every ounce of self-control to keep from scratching your sweet spots. So what causes vulvar and vaginal itching and what can you do about it?
Itching doesn’t always mean you need to head for the nearest pharmacy for a yeast infection treatment. There are lots of other things that could be causing that twinge. Here are some of the most common.
Contact dermatitis is a common culprit behind vulvar or vaginal itching. When your intimate skin comes into contact with irritants or allergens that could be hiding in products like shampoo, body wash, bubble bath, scented toilet paper or even menstrual pads, it can leave you with itching, redness, burning and stinging. This condition is actually what led SweetSpot Labs founder Shari Creed to create our line of sulfate-free, non-irritating cleansers - some ingredients were just never meant for your vulva.
The occasional itch is pretty normal, and can be the result of everyday things like wearing tight, constrictive clothing, friction from sex, or even changes in the weather (hello, dry skin season). Choose loose-fitting, breathable underwear, change out of wet clothes as soon as you can, and consider using a lightweight moisturizer like this one to help your sweet spots stay happy and healthy.
Often, dry intimate skin is itchy intimate skin. Anyone who is pre-menopausal or menopausal is at higher risk for vaginal itching because estrogen loss leads to excessive dryness. But hormonal changes during pregnancy and postpartum, throughout the menstrual cycle, and even just as a result of stress can also trigger vulvar and vaginal dryness that can cause itching.
Intense itching accompanied by other symptoms like swelling or abnormal discharge or smell may be signs of an infection. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are the result of an overgrowth of fungus or bacteria that can be easily treated. However, vaginal itching after sexthat’s accompanied by bumps, lesions or sores may indicate a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Be sure to contact your medical provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Vulvar and vaginal itching are common symptoms of certain chronic skin conditions like lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, psoriasis and eczema (aka atopic dermatitis). Besides the itching, symptoms of these conditions include changes in the appearance and texture of the skin.
How to Stop the Itch
Resist the urge to scratch! Scratching can make things worse, so try to keep your hands to yourself. Instead, try Rescue Balm to instantly soothe angry, itchy skin. It’s made with clean, clinical ingredients that target dry, itchy, irritated skin. And because it’s free from estrogen and hormones, it can safely complement prescription-based treatments.
For very dry, itchy, dermatitis-prone skin, Barrier Rescue Intimate & Body Wash is a shower staple. It’s ultra-rich, creamy formula delivers immediate and long-lasting moisture to keep skin feeling soft and smooth from chin to toe.
When to See a Doctor
Most itching isn’t severe enough to seek medical treatment. But if you’ve got vulvar or vaginal itching that is severe enough to keep you from living your normal life, or if you notice any blisters, sores, pain, tenderness, abnormal discharge or trouble urinating, contact your medical provider for help. Usually, a gynecologist is the one to call, but if they refer you to a dermatologist who doesn’t treat conditions “down there,” check out this list of providers who specialize in pelvic pain.