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Yoxly Awesome Contributors

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Medically Reviewed by:

Dr Danae Maragouthakis

Itching of the genital area, while it may be uncomfortable, is very common and affects most women at some point in their life. You might be itchy down there for a number of reasons, and we’ll explore them in detail. We’ll cover reasons that include: 

  • Allergy or sensitivity
  • Thrush or yeast infection (vulvovaginal candidiasis)
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Shaving rash
  • Skin infection
  • Skin conditions (e.g., eczema, psoriasis)
  • Hormonal changes

Itchy Vagina vs. Itchy Vulva

A short note on terminology first! The vagina is the muscular internal tube that connects the external genitalia to the cervix. The vulva is the external genitalia (which is what people often incorrectly refer to as the vagina) and includes the labia minora, labia majora, clitoris, and mons pubis. Genital itch most commonly affects the vulva.

Allergy or Sensitivity

Allergic reactions or sensitivities to products used around the genitals can often lead to minor itching. Irritating products may include shaving foams, soaps, perfumes, douches, and scented products like cleansing wipes or laundry detergents. Certain clothing or materials can also cause skin sensitivity in the genital area. If you notice itching during your period, your skin may be sensitive to materials used in your sanitary pads or tampons. 

It’s a good idea to keep scented and dyed products away from your vulva and vagina. All you need to clean your genitals is clean, warm water. Try to stick to natural, breathable fabrics such as cotton, and avoid synthetic or scratchy underwear materials. If you find genital itching is worse on your period, try using a menstrual cup or period pants to see if this makes a difference. 


A yeast infection, also known as thrush or vulvovaginal candidiasis, is one of the most common causes of genital itching. It’s estimated that three-quarters of women will experience thrush at least once. 

Thrush often leads to itching and is usually accompanied by a thick, white discharge. Thrush can also lead to pain during sex, a burning sensation while peeing, and redness or swelling of the vulva. 

If you’re worried you might have thrush, make sure to get it checked out by a healthcare professional. Thankfully, in most cases, thrush is easily treated with an antifungal medicine that may be taken as a pill or applied topically.

Bacterial Vaginosis

The vagina and vulva maintain a delicate balance of bacterial flora and pH. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common infection which occurs when there’s an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. 

The most common symptom of BV is an unusual vaginal discharge or smell. However, it can also cause itching, irritation, or burning around the vulva and vagina. BV can be triggered by your period, washing, or even sex. It often resolves spontaneously but, in some cases, may require antibiotic treatment. A healthcare provider can help you to determine if any treatment is necessary.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Itching is also a side effect of several sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including genital warts, herpes, and chlamydia. 

Genital warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread via skin-to-skin contact (often during sex). Genital warts are small bumps that may appear anywhere on the genitals and may be itchy. Genital warts often don’t require treatment, but if they are causing irritation, they can be treated using a topical ointment or cream or removed using cryotherapy (freezing spray). 

Genital herpes, an STI caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), is known for causing painful blisters around the genitals. However, there is often a mild itching or tingling sensation before blisters appear. An outbreak of genital herpes will resolve on its own (though the HSV virus itself stays in the system), but an antiviral medication is often recommended to reduce the duration of symptoms. 

Other STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and trichomoniasis, are often asymptomatic, but they may also cause itching, unusual discharge, or pain. If you’re worried about your risk of STIs, it’s important to get checked. You can do it right at home using an at-home STI-testing kit from Yoxly. 

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Shaving Rash

Another common cause of genital itching is shaving. The skin around the genitals tends to be more easily irritated than in other areas. Shaving can cause tiny cuts or abrasions to the skin and introduce bacteria, which can cause a rash, irritation, and itching. Itching also tends to occur when hair regrows after being removed. 

If you do choose to remove your pubic hair using a razor, it’s important to make sure your razor is clean, new, and not shared with anyone else. Always shave in the direction of hair growth to minimise irritation. 

Skin Infections

Like skin elsewhere, the skin on the genitals can become infected with itch-inducing bacteria or parasites.

Bacterial skin infections often occur where there is an area of broken skin, such as a shaving cut, which allows bacteria to enter the skin. This can result in redness, swelling, heat, and discharge – as well as itching.

One of the most common parasitic skin infections in the UK is scabies. Scabies are small mites spread via close contact with an infected individual. They can infect any body part and cause intense itchiness, which may be worse at night or after a bath or shower. 

Though they can’t be seen by the naked eye, scabies often cause a visible rash, especially in skin folds such as between the fingers or genital skin. Read more about scabies in our blog article: Scared Of Scabies? Here’s What You Need To Know!

Skin Conditions

Skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, and lichen sclerosus, can also affect the genitals and cause itching.

  • Eczema is a common inflammatory condition that causes dry, itchy skin. Unfortunately, scratching can worsen the itching and even lead to thickened skin or scarring. 
  • Psoriasis can manifest anywhere on the body, including the vulva. It often looks like pink patches with defined edges that can crack and become irritated.
  • Lichen sclerosus is rarer and primarily affects postmenopausal women. It can cause inflammation in the vulva or anal area, leading to itching, thinning skin, and white patches.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, like those surrounding the postpartum period or menopause, can cause dryness and thinning of the tissue of the vulva and vagina, which can cause itching. 

During menopause, your body stops making as much oestrogen, and this results in the tissues around the genitals becoming thinner and more prone to dryness. This can lead to symptoms like itching, pain during sex, and even problems passing urine. The medical term for this issue is “genitourinary syndrome of menopause” (GSM), previously known as vulvovaginal atrophy, atrophic vaginitis, or urogenital atrophy

Hormonal shifts following childbirth and during lactation can also cause genital itching and discomfort. Immediately postpartum, oestrogen and progesterone levels plummet, and they tend to stay low for as long as the person lactates. This causes dryness, thinning, and sometimes itching of the vaginal tissue. Fortunately, this issue tends to resolve once hormone levels normalise in the following months.

Lubricants and moisturisers can help ease dryness and discomfort during sex due to tissue thinning and dryness. Topical creams or pessaries containing hormones (known as local hormone replacement therapy or HRT) may also be used. 

Top Tips for Caring for Your Vulva and Vagina

To care for the vulvar area and prevent irritation:

  • Avoid using soaps, bubble baths, shower gels, scrubs, deodorants, wet wipes, or “feminine wipes”. These often contain scents and chemicals that can throw off the vagina’s delicate bacterial and pH balance and irritate the skin. Instead, use just warm water. If you find using just water is drying, a gentle soap substitute such as an aqueous cream or emollient wash can be used.
  • Vaginal moisturisers can help with dry skin. Using barrier creams before urinating can protect against stinging. 
  • Opt for loose-fitting clothing made from natural fabrics like silk or cotton to keep the area comfortable, dry, and irritation-free.
  • If you’re worried about an itchy vulva or vagina, it’s important to seek advice from a healthcare provider.


Vaginal itching can be caused by several things, such as using scented products, overwashing, infections, and hormone imbalances. But don’t worry: there's almost always a solution. The important thing is to listen to your body and get things checked out if you're uncomfortable. After all, you deserve to feel comfortable and itch-free wherever you roam!

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