A vulva is a part of the female body that composes the external genitalia. It contains the labia, clitoris, and the opening to the vagina. This is a delicate part of the body and can become irritated more easily than other, more exposed parts of the body. When irritation occurs, one of the most common things that follow is an itchy vulva, which can serve as an indicator of a greater underlying problem.
There are a number of possible causes that could be the source of an itchy vulva, some of which may require treatment, and others which simply require a change in habits or activities. It is important to consider recent activities and other symptoms that may be present when trying to determine the cause of vulva itch. Some things that may cause women to experience an itchy vulva include: allergies, bacterial or yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and skin disorders. Some women may experience irritation after using certain soaps or lotions in the genital area, which may include itchiness. This is easily remedied by identifying the product that was used, and discontinuing use.
Two of the most common causes of vulva itching are bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina, and is often characterized by an itchy vulva, an unpleasant fish like odor and a white discharge. A yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast in the vagina, and is often characterized by an itchy and inflamed vulva, with white discharge which sometimes resembles cottage cheese. If a woman has never been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis (BV) or a yeast infection and suspects one of those may be the cause of vulva itching, it is best to see a gynecologist and have tests done to be sure. BV can be treated with an antiobiotic which requires a prescriptions, but a yeast infection can be treated with various over the counter medications such as Monistat.
A sexually active woman should consider sexually transmitted diseases if vulva itching occurs after sexual intercourse. Some possible causes could include pubic lice, also known as crabs, which are a parasites that live in the pubic hair and can transfer from one person to the next. Crabs are easy to identify, as there will be itching, as well as eggs and the crabs, which can be visually identified. Herpes is also a common reason, and often presents with blisters.
Most causes of an itchy vulva can be easily remedied, but some diseases can cause serious complications if left untreated. Symptoms such as an itchy vulva should not be ignored, as some conditions are transferable to others, and it should be treated as quickly as possible. An itchy vulva is a sign that something is wrong and a doctor visit is in order if unsure what is the cause, especially if sex is involved.