Acute and Chronic Vulval Itch and Irritation
Vulval itch and irritation is a common symptom.
What is Acute and Chronic Vulval Itch and Irritation?
Vulval itch and irritation is a common symptom. When it occurs briefly it may be normal, but when it is a persistent chronic condition it is abnormal. Possible common causes include:
- Candida (thrush)
- skin conditions – eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, lichen sclerosus and other rarer vulval skin disorders
- other infections such as bacterial vaginosis
- irritants including sweat, soaps and deodorants
Symptoms of Acute and Chronic Vulval Itch and Irritation
Depending on the cause your skin may look red and inflamed, or dry, scaly and weeping.
The skin may be swollen.
Chronic scratching can lead to a thickening of the skin (lichen simplex chronicus). It may also cause skin ulceration.
Dr Kliman can help by making a diagnosis and giving you the appropriate treatment. Finding the correct diagnosis involves taking a careful history and performing a careful examination often including a vulvoscopy (examining the skin of the genital region with a microscope). Tests may include swabs, skin scrapings or even a biopsy under local anaesthetic.
Appropriate treatment involves treating the underlying cause whether it be an itch due to an infection or an intrinsic skin disorder.
The itch and irritation, irrespective of the cause, can be assisted by gentle care with your skin in the genital area including:
- ceasing over-the-counter preparations
- washing with care with plain aqueous cream or plain water
- avoid excessive washing
- use loose cotton clothing
- avoid chemicals as in deodorants or soap
- avoid overheating, especially at night
- if necessary use an oral antihistamine to help the itch
Always try and resist scratching due to the itch/scratch cycle where the more you scratch, the more you release a chemical called histamine which makes your skin even more itchy.
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