What is the outlook?
Most of the time, when a cause can be found, the cause is treated and the itch improves. However, depending on what the cause is, treatment is sometimes prolonged or may need to be repeated. Your doctor will advise on the best approach depending in your particular situation.
What if no cause is found?
In most cases, a cause can be found for an itchy vulva (pruritus vulvae). Treatment is then aimed at the underlying cause. However, in some cases no cause can be found. The general advice on clothes, washing, etc, will usually help. In addition, your doctor may advise that you use a mild steroid ointment such as hydrocortisone for a week or so. This often settles the itch within a few days. It may also help to break any itch-scratch cycle that has developed. However, you should not use steroid ointment regularly on the vulva, unless you have been advised to do so by your doctor, as it can have a thinning effect on the skin with long-term use.
Note: steroid ointments can make some conditions of the vulva worse. Some steroid creams are available 'over the counter'; however, you should see a doctor about a persistent itchy vulva before using any treatment, particularly steroid treatments.
Some women find an itchy vulva embarrassing, particularly if it becomes a persistent (chronic) problem. It can make them feel distressed and depressed and may interfere with their sex life. If you feel like this, go to see your doctor. They will be able to help and it is more likely than not that a simple treatment will solve the problem.
Did you find this information useful?
- Pruritus vulvae; NICE CKS, May 2016 (UK access only)
- UK National Guideline on the Management of Vulval Conditions; British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (2014)
- European guideline for the management of vulval conditions; International Union against Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2016
- Lee A, Bradford J, Fischer G; Long-term Management of Adult Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus: A Prospective Cohort Study of 507 Women. JAMA Dermatol. 2015 Oct 151(10):1061-7. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.0643.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.