Itchiness of the vulva is nearly never caused by a sexually transmitted infection, but is normally an outcome of thrush or a skin problem. The lips of the vulva (the labia) are covered by normal skin, so the area can be influenced by conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. And in some cases just the vulval skin is influenced, so the diagnosis might come as a surprise.
The typical mistake with vulval itchiness is to assume that you have thrush, and keep on using anti-thrush creams that you have actually bought from a pharmacy. This may in fact worsen the condition, because you can end up being allergic to some of the components. If an anti-thrush cream does not handle the problem within a couple of days, or if the itchiness comes back, see your doctor. If you have a skin condition, and not thrush, you require the proper treatment.
Causes of itchy vulva
This section describes the most common causes of vulval itching and what you can do about them. And you can find more info about thrush and trichomoniasis in the area on genital infections.
Thrush is a fungal infection triggered by Candida albicans. About 1 woman in 5 has Candida in her vagina without it causing any symptoms. Hormonal agents in the vaginal secretions and the friendly vaginal bacteria keep it at bay. However problems can emerge when this natural balance becomes upset, and the Candida multiplies.
Thrush does not always cause a discharge– the main symptom is itching or discomfort, and this gets worse in the week before a duration. If there is a discharge, it is normally just small, does not smell and appears like cottage cheese.
Trichomoniasis. Infection with Trichomonas vaginalis can be itchy.
Psoriasis is a skin problem that can be very itchy when the genital areas are included. The skin generally ends up being bright red, typically with painful fractures. The afflicted area might reach the groin and to around the back passage (the rectum) and in between the butts. Psoriasis on other parts of the body is flaky (examine your scalp, knees and elbows), but in the vulval area it has the tendency to be smooth. You can have psoriasis on the vulva without having it anywhere else on your body.
Lichen sclerosus is another exceptionally itchy skin problem influencing the vulva. The itchiness is frequently so bad that it can influence a sufferer’s sleep. It is most common around the menopause and in women just before adolescence, though it can take place at any age. Its cause is a mystery. The skin looks thin and pale, and the area around the anus might likewise be affected. If it is not alleviated, the lips of the vulva eventually shrink, the vaginal opening narrows and sex becomes painful and can tear the skin.
Treatment of this condition is basic, and your doctor can recommend an unique steroid cream.
Allergic reactions and sensitivities can cause inflammation and itchiness. The vulval area seems to be extremely sensitive to chemicals, probably because the vulva is moist and warmer conditions that favour the absorption of chemicals by the skin. It is possible to establish an allergy to virtually any chemical drug that enters into contact with the vulva, such as might be present in:
- skin creams (including anti-thrush creams).
- fragrances in soaps, bubble baths, shower gels and hair shampoos.
- washing powders and material conditioners.
- clothing color (specifically yellow).
- self-adhesive sanitary pads.
- antiperspirants (consisting of ‘intimate’ ones).
In the past, it was thought that the enzymes in bio washing powders were particularly most likely to cause an itchy allergy, but this seems to be a myth.
Excessive washing can aggravate the vulval area. Older women who may discover it hard to get into a bath may stress over individual health, with the outcome that they clean the area too much. There is no need to clean several times a day– when suffices.
Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia is a condition that generally influences older women, and causes itching in just a small area. It occurs due to the fact that the skin because area has become unusual. There is a risk that it might turn into a skin cancer of the vulva, so it is very important to see your doctor if you suspect you have this condition. Cancer of the vulva is extremely unusual, and has the tendency to influence generally older women; itching can be the first sign, or there may be a swelling or a sore.
Stress or anxiety can cause itching. When you are stressed or nervous, your worried system is on alert, and little feelings can end up being magnified into unpleasant itchiness or perhaps pain. So it is not imaginary, it is genuine.
What you can do about vulval itching
- Start by aiming to remove anything that could be causing an allergic reaction or sensitivity– look at the dos and do n’ts for vulval problems. Prevent swimming while you have the inflammation– the chlorine might make it worse.
- If you have been using cream from the drug store for more than 1 week, and you still have the issue, stop utilizing it. You might have developed a sensitivity to one of the ingredients.
- If the itch is really bad, you might be scratching in your sleep, triggering more damage. Keep your fingernails brief and use cotton gloves when you go to sleep (you can purchase them from a pharmacy).
- If you believe thrush is a possibility, take a look at the information on thrush in the genital infections area.
- If itching is disturbing your sleep, antihistamine medication at bedtime might help. Ask your pharmacist for a ‘sedating’ antihistamine.