Vulval Itching

Vulval itching is a symptom resulting from various conditions that irritate or infect the vulva, which is the external genital organ of a female. The causes of vulval itching include infections, skin conditions, allergies and cancer problems.

Vulval itching is a common feminine problem.To understands what vulval itching is, we need to define first what vulva is.  Vulva is the external part of a woman's genital organ and more often than not, it is mistaken for a vagina. Vulva is made up of the following organ surrounding the vagina:

  • Clitoris
  • Inner lips or Labia minora
  • Outer lips or Labia majora
  • Vestibule - found between the labia minora
  • Urethral opening - where urine passes
  • Perineum - located between the anus and vagina
  • Mons pubis - area that is covered with pubic hair

Any irritation, infection, allergy, inflammation and cancer of the vulval parts can result to vulval itching. The itch may be mild and short lasting, but often persistent and is mostly felt at night, causing sleep disturbance.

Allergy and irritation of the skin may be attributable to exposure to the irritants like products relative to feminine hygiene, lubricants, soap, douches, perfumes, creams, and latex.

Symptoms of vulval itching (or pruritus vulvae) include itching, stinging, or burning sensation. The vulva may appear swollen and red at times.

Causes of Vulval Itching

There are various conditions that can result to vulval itching, which can be classified as follows: 

Infections

CAUSES

DESCRIPTION

SYMPTOMS

Thrush

Is an infection resulting from an increased presence in the vagina of the fungus called Candida albicans affecting the natural balance of the hormone and bacteria of the vagina.

Mainly soreness or itching, getting worse a week before menstruation or a period

Slight discharge similar to a cottage cheese and has no foul smell

Genital Herpes

Is a disease that is sexually transmitted. It is caused by a virus called Herpes Simplex

Blisters in the affected area which develops into ulcers within the 5th to 14th day

Trichomoniasis

Is an infection resulting from the spread of a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis via sexual contact

Itch in the inner thighs

Pain or discomfort during intercourse

Greenish-yellow discharge that is thin and foamy

Vulval itching

Swelling of the "lips" or the labia

Foul odor coming from the vagina

Pubic Lice

Parasite called "crabs" that thrive in pubic hair

Parasite called "crabs" that thrive in pubic hair

Tinea Cruris

Also known as "jock itch"; it is a fungal infection or ringworm in the groin

Itching in groin, anus or skin folds in the thigh; raised scaly red patches

Itching, rashes, sores, thin lines on the skin

Scabies

A skin disease brought about by tiny mites

Off-white discharge with fishy odor; mild itch

Bacterial Vaginosis

Mild infection caused by an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the vagina

Yellow or grayish white vaginal discharge with fishy  smell

Some may not have any symptoms


Skin Conditions

CAUSES

DESCRIPTION

SYMPTONS

Psoriasis

A common condition that involves intense itchiness especially in the genital area and may reach the groin and anus.

Painful cracks and redness of skin

Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis

A chronic condition marked by an inflammation and itching of the skin.

Persistent itching

Lichen Sclerosus

Another chronic disorder of the skin characterized by extreme itchiness of the vulva thereby resulting to changes in skin of the genitals.

Intense itching

Lichen Planus

A skin disorder that can lead to vulval cancer. This condition may affect other body parts as well especially the mouth, hands and shins.

Discomfort during sex accompanied by bleeding and pain

Lichen Simplex

Similar to Sclerosus, Simplex is a chronic condition that involves scratching, itching and thickening of skin

Itching and thickening of the skin

Vulval Intraepithelial Neoplasia

A skin disorder affecting older women resulting from skin abnormalities. This condition can likewise develop into cancer of the vulval skin.

Itching in small areas only


Cancerous Skin Disorder

As mentioned in the previous discussions, some of the causes of vulval itching may develop into vulvar cancer. Vulval cancer is characterized by a presence of sore or lump in the vulva that can cause itchiness. Although it can affect women of all ages, vulval cancer is mostly examined women that are older. Symptoms may involve the following:

  • Persistent itching
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Change in skin color
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Open sore
  • Lumps or bumps that are wart-like

Others

  • Excessive washing - since frequent washing can also affect the vulva, once a day cleaning is enough.
  • Stress and anxiety - emotional disturbances can affect the nervous system.  When this happens, the sensations are heightened into itching.
  • Allergies - the vulva can easily react to contacts with chemicals that may be found in:
  • Scented soaps, shampoos and similar bathing products
  • Skin creams
  • Intimate deodorants
  • Laundry products
  • Clothing dye

Home Reliefs for Vulval Itching

First and foremost, it is best to consult your doctor or gynecologist for the proper treatment of vulval itching. Self-treatment can sometimes aggravate the condition.

There are however measures that can be taken to ease or lessen vulval itching.

  • Avoid frequent washing of the vulva. Gently cleanse your vulva once in a day.
  • Since vulval itching is brought about by allergies, irritations or infections, avoid the use of bathing and laundry products that may contain chemicals such as perfumed shampoos or soaps, shower gels, detergents and fabric softeners, antiseptics or special feminine wash. When taking a bath, make sure that the shampoo does not run down into your vulva; it would be better if you separately wash your hair to avoid the contact of shampoo and vulva.
  • Avoid contact with condoms with spermicide lubricants. Discontinue the use of skin creams, anti-thrush creams especially if you see no improvement after a week's application.
  • Avoid contact with chlorinated water. Wait for your vulva to be fully dry before wearing your underwear.
  • Refrain from using scented panty liners or sanitary pads. Avoid using colored toilet or tissue papers. Shaving of pubic hair is disallowed.
  • Wear cotton panties and avoid tight-fitting shorts or leggings. This is to allow air circulation in the vulval area.
  • You may use emollients instead to lessen the itch. It is especially helpful if you cool it first in the ref prior to application.
  • Refrain from scratching the itchy parts as the more you scratch, the itchier it becomes. If the itching is unavoidable especially during your sleep, try keeping your nails short. Likewise, wearing of cotton gloves can help protect the skin from further irritation or infection.
  • If you are having disturbed sleep due to the itch, you may consider taking antihistamine before bedtime.