What is vulva itch?

The vulva is the tissue that surrounds the vagina, which consists of the labia majora and minora (the outer and inner “lips”) and the clitoris. Itching of the vulva can result from irritation, allergy, inflammation, infection or cancer. Irritation and allergy can occur as a result of exposure to soaps, feminine hygiene products, perfumes, lubricants, douches, creams, or latex. In this case, avoiding exposure to the irritant or allergen may be all that is needed for the itching to resolve.

Sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes or trichomoniasis, can cause vulva itch, as can other infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Pubic lice, also called “crabs,” is a sexually transmitted infestation that typically causes 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.

The groin provides a warm, moist environment that is ideal for pathogens to thrive. Tinea cruris, a fungal infection sometimes referred to as “jock itch” or “ringworm of the groin,” can also cause infection of the vulva and the skin around it. 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 vulva. These itchy skin conditions often affect other areas of the body, as well. Other noninfectious causes of vulva itch include changes associated with decreased hormone levels following menopause, as well as precancerous changes and cancers. The treatment of vulva itch is highly variable depending on the cause of the itching.

Vulva itch 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 vulva itch that is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with vulva itch?

Vulva itch may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Some conditions that cause vulva itch only affect the genitals, while others may involve other parts of the body.

Symptoms that may occur along with vulva itch

Vulva itch may accompany other symptoms affecting the genitals or skin including:

CAUSES

What causes vulva itch?

Itching in the vulvar region can result from irritation, allergy, inflammation, infection or cancer. Many of the infections that can cause vulva itch are contagious. Other conditions that cause vulva itch are not contagious.

Infectious causes of vulva itch

Vulva itch may be caused by infections including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 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.