Itching in the pubic or groin area can affect women of any age, and around one woman in 10 will consult a doctor about the problem at some point. It can be uncomfortable or painful and is often caused by infections, irritating substances or menopause.
Itching of the vulva — the opening to the vagina, the clitoris, outer and inner lips and the skin in the area between the vagina and anus — is known medically as pruritus vulvae. Usually, it’s not serious but if it’s frequent and persistent, it’s important to get it checked out as, in rare cases, it can be a symptom of vulval cancer.
In most cases, an itchy vulva is caused by skin disorders, an irritant or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In rare cases, an itchy vulva can be caused by stress.
The causes of an itchy vulva are extremely wide-ranging. It can sometimes simply be due to irritation from chemicals found in:
You may also experience hormonal changes around pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause, which can affect the delicate vulval skin.
Infections or infestation
Talk to your doctor if you're concerned about your symptoms.
See a doctor if your itching is frequent and persistent (lasts more than a week) or is accompanied by other unexplained symptoms. This includes a rash in your genital area, as well as any of the following symptoms:
It is very important to see a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms because many symptoms of minor conditions are very similar to those of serious conditions, such as vulval cancer. The earlier any condition is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Your doctor may:
Your doctor may also consider other tests including:
Test samples will be sent to a lab for analysis.
If you need treatment, it will depend on the underlying cause. Your doctor may recommend:
Depending on the cause of your itchy vulva, treatments may include lifestyle changes, such as avoiding anything that may be causing an allergic reaction, and self-care. This includes avoiding:
You should also:
You can also try eating probiotic yoghurts ie yoghurts containing live bacteria. There is some evidence that this may help prevent recurrent yeast infections when used alongside prescribed antifungal medication.
What causes pain when urinating?
Pain when urinating can have a number of different causes, including irritation by chemicals, such as those found in scented soaps, bubble baths and other perfumed products, infections including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), inflammation, hormonal changes at menopause, kidney stones, bladder stones and in rare cases, cancer of the bladder or urethra.
How do you treat painful urination?
The treatment for painful urination will depend on the cause. This may include antibiotics to treat an infection, anti-inflammatory creams or steroids, and lifestyle changes.
Will a UTI go away on its own?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can go away on their own. But if you have a persistent UTI or recurrent UTIs, your GP may prescribe antibiotics.
Why does it burn when I pee but I have no infection?
If you do not have an infection but you still experience a burning sensation when you pee, there are other causes, such as hormonal changes at menopause and bacterial vaginosis in women and non-bacterial prostatitis in men.
When should I go to the doctor for painful urination?
If you are concerned about your painful urination, or your symptoms are persistent or frequent, you should see your GP.
What is the fastest way to get rid of a bladder infection?
Bladder infections can go away on their own after a few days. If your bladder infection persists, see your GP. They may prescribe a course of antibiotics to take for several days or weeks. It is important to drink lots of water when you have a bladder infection to help your body clear it. However, do not drink caffeine or alcohol as these can dehydrate your body and worsen your symptoms.