why does my crotch itch so much
Sure, not every woman is walking around with an itchy vagina, but many are. Below-the-belt itching is Áa common symptom that we see as gynecologists. It can be so bothersome that even mild symptoms will bring women in,Á says Julianna Schantz-Dunn, MD, an ob-gyn at Brigham and WomenÁs Hospital in Boston. And the reasons why can range from benign (your choice of undies) to more worrisome (an STI). ThatÁs why itÁs important to figure out what the heckÁs going on. That, and itÁs not like you can go around scratching your crotch all day. While you donÁt have to run to the doc for every unusual itch, she recommends making an appointment if symptoms stick around for more than two days or if, along with the scratchiness, you have unusual bleeding or lesions in the area. Here are 7 possible causes, plus the best advice for fixing each one. RELATED: We'll start with the most obvious one: yeast. These infections are so common that
of women will get one at some point. The hallmark symptom is extreme itchiness, along with an odorless thick, white discharge. ÁWe suggest you at least call your doctor to discuss your symptoms rather than going to the drugstore to buy an OTC treatment,Á says Dr. Schantz-Dunn. ÁIf you randomly self-treat and itÁs not a yeast infection, you can make the problem worse,Á she says. This common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that while 3. 7 million people (more of them women), only 30% know it. ThatÁs because it often causes no symptoms. But when it does, it causes itching, burning, a change in discharge, or external white cracking in the skin, Dr. Shantz-Dunn says. ÁYou may assume it's a yeast infection and try an OTC antifungal, and it doesn't work.
Then you try douching, [which is ], and that makes it worse,Á she adds. ThatÁs all the more reason to see your doc first. If tests come back positive, itÁs very easy to cure with an antibiotic, but the catch is both you and your partner have to be treated, otherwise, you can easily re-infect each other. RELATED: Rounding out the top three most common causes, Schantz-Dunn says, is irritation caused by certain fabrics or products. ÁWe often talk to patients about good vulvar hygiene,Á she says. That includes not wearing scented panty liners (and not wearing panty liners too much overall), avoiding scented soaps for down-there cleaning, and absolutely never douching or using scented feminine sprays or powders. These can kickstart the problem; then, scratching can lead to infection, making things worse. Besides, these can also change up the pH of the vagina, making you more susceptible to an infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV). (More on that later. ) Also, your vagina needs to breathe. Suffocating it with synthetic underwear traps moisture against your skin, which can be an irritant. Switch to cotton, Dr. Schantz-Dunn recommends. And be sure you're gently washing up with regular, unscented soaps around the outside only. RELATED: While this vaginal infection can cause some, Dr. Schantz-Dunn swarns that more often the hallmark symptom of BV is a foul-smelling discharge. If you call your doc and explain that you itch like crazy, he or she will more likely think it points to a yeast infection, trichomoniasis, or irritation, she says. So be sure to make note of all your symptoms, including details about discharge, which can go a long way in identifying your issue. You may think you could spot genital herpes, but not everyone gets big lesions that are easy to see.
ÁYou may feel some itching or painful urination, but the symptoms may not be as severe as youÁd think,Á Dr. Schantz-Dunn says. ÁIÁve seen people try to treat herpes with a topical yeast medicationÁand that doesnÁt do much. Á When you shave down there, it may feel smooth in the moment, but when the hair grows back itÁs itchy city. In fact, in a 2014 published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology about problems women experience ridding public hair, 20% said theyÁve felt severe itching. ÁWomen know their bodies well and if they know they get irritated from shaving, I say donÁt do it,Á Dr. Schantz-Dunn notes. A vagina-friendlier way: trim the hair or get a bikini wax. RELATED: If youÁre post-menopausal, the source of the itch could be that your vagina is changing along with your changing hormones. Namely, a drop in estrogen can thin the mucosal lining in your vagina. But don't fret: after ruling out other causes, Áwe can treat this with a vaginal estrogen cream or tablet," Dr. Schantz-Dunn says. ItÁs incredibly uncomfortableÁand can be downright worrisomeÁwhen your nether regions are itchy. The good news is that there are a few simple explanations for why you may have vaginal itching, along with some easy remedies. ÁMost of the time when women experience itching in the pubic region, it is the, or the area around the vagina, that is affected,Á explains Mary Jane Minkin, M. D. , a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School. While vulvar itching is a common issue, Dr. Minkin adds, Áthese problems are seldom worrisome or dangerous, although theyÁre quite annoying. Á 1. á The normal pH of the vagina is below 4. 7, which is on the acidic side of the pH scale.
Usually, our bodyÁs lactobacilli bacteriaÁthe good kind of bacteria that help maintain acidityÁkeep yeast away. But when the vagina loses acidity, yeast can build up on the vulva, causing an infection. This often happens when women take antibiotics, which wipes out all bacteria including the good kind, and arenÁt taking a simultaneously to replenish the supply. Yeast also multiplies in warm, moist environments, making your vulva the perfect location to set up shop. The result is cottage cheese-like discharge and itchiness around the labia or tissues around the vaginal opening. Treatment : If this is your first or if youÁre pregnant, make an appointment with your primary care physician to get checked out. If youÁve had yeast infections in the past and are experiencing those all-too-familiar symptoms, apply an anti-fungal over-the-counter cream like Gyne-Lotrimin or Monistat to the affected area for several days. To reduce irritation, dab on some topical 1 percent hydrocortisone on the vulva or take an Epsom salt bath. Yeast feed on sugar, so out of your diet for a while. If the itching doesnÁt improve after three to four days, you may have something other than a yeast infection at play and need to see your gynecologist. 2. Vulvitis. á This is a general term that can include contact dermatitis or general irritation of the vulva. The most common reason for irritation is that women either scrub that area too hard when bathing or use or other products such as bubble baths or vaginal deodorants that contain fragrance or perfumes, which inflame the vulva. ÁRemember, the vulva is the most sensitive skin on the body, so be delicate with it,Á warns Dr. Minkin. Other culprits include toilet paper with irritating dyes or spending a prolonged period of time in sweaty gym clothing or a wet bathing suit.
Treatment: Use only warm water to wash your genitals. If you must use soap, choose Dove White or Neutrogena, which are very gentle to the skin. Rinse the area and pat dry. Use only white toilet paper and ditch vaginal deodorants. 3. Douching. á LetÁs cut to the chase here: is dangerous. It messes with the vaginaÁs delicate pH balanceá by washing away good bacteria, and it may also carry dangerous bacteria further up the canal. In fact, douching predisposes you to bacterial vaginosis and the odor that comes along with it. And itÁs drying. Treatment: Two words: Stop douching. Your vagina is a self-cleaning oven that rarely needs your help if you donÁt mess with it. 4. A Skin Condition. á Some common skin conditions such as and can cause itchiness in the vulvar region. Treatment : If you have a chronic skin condition and your itching doesnÁt subside in a few days, contact your primary care physician or dermatologist for an exam and treatment recommendations. Certain medications can help mitigate the itching and bring on relief. For example, for, using a low-strength topical corticosteroid for a limited period of time and applying a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer on the affected area can help. 5. An STD. á DonÁt panic just yet: Minkin explains that itching as the result of a sexually transmitted infection is rare. ThatÁs because many STDs have at all and if they do, they tend to present with symptoms of pain rather than itching. However, occasionally people who have a recurring STD may experience itching in the vulvar region. Treatment: If the itch continues for several days and none of the above methods are helping, avoid sexual contact and see your primary care physician to diagnose the problem and prescribe medication for the STD.
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