What is genital itching?

Itching in the genital region can result from irritation, allergy, inflammation, infection or cancer. Irritation can occur as a result of exposure to chemicals in soaps, feminine hygiene products, perfumes, lubricants, douches, and creams. Similar chemicals can also cause allergies in some people, as can latex. In the case of irritation and allergy, avoiding exposure to the irritant or allergen may be all that is needed for the itching to resolve.

Sexual Health Spotlight

Sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes or trichomoniasis, can cause genital itching, as can other infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Pubic lice, also called “crabs,” are sexually transmitted and typically cause genital itching. Scabies, which can be spread sexually or through other skin-to-skin contact, is a contagious skin disease that typically causes itching. Scabies is caused by very small mites and can affect any part of the body.

Tinea cruris, a fungal infection sometimes referred to as “jock itch” or “ringworm of the groin,” can also cause genital infection. People who have tinea cruris may also have athlete’s foot or ringworm.

Some noninfectious skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and lichen simplex chronicus, can involve the genital area. These itchy skin conditions often affect other areas of the body, as well. Other noninfectious causes of genital itching include changes associated with decreased hormone levels following menopause, as well as precancerous changes and cancers. The treatment of genital itching is highly variable depending on the cause of the itching.

Genital itching is unlikely to be part of a condition that requires emergent treatment; however, it can have several causes, some of which are easily treated and others that can ultimately lead to serious complications. If you have genital itching that lasts for a couple days or more or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with genital itching?

Genital itching may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Some conditions that cause genital itching only affect the genital area, while others may involve other parts of the body.... Read more about genital itchingsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes genital itching?

Itching in the genital region can result from irritation, allergy, inflammation, infection or cancer. Many of the infections that can cause genital itching are contagious. Other conditions that cause genital itching are not contagious.... Read more about genital itchingcauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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