When should I see a doctor?
If you have an itchy vulva (pruritus vulvae) that is persisting, don't be embarrassed. Go to see your doctor or go to your nearest genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. If you think you have thrush and have been using cream that you have bought from a pharmacy but it isn't getting better after a week, stop using the cream and go to see a doctor.
Do I need any investigations?
Often, your doctor will be able to find the cause of your itchy vulva (pruritus vulvae) after talking to you and examining you. Examination will probably involve your doctor looking at the skin of your vulva and may also involve an internal (vaginal) examination. They may need to ask you quite personal questions about your sex life and may then suggest that sample swabs should be taken from your vulva and/or vagina to look for infection.
Skin patch testing may be suggested in some cases to determine if there is something that may be sensitising and causing irritation of the vulval skin.
Rarely, a doctor may need to examine your vulval skin in detail using a type of microscope called a vulvoscope. Taking a sample (biopsy) of the vulval skin may be suggested. This is usually done by punching a small hole in the skin of the vulva and removing a small piece of skin. Local anaesthetic cream or injection is used to numb the skin first so that it doesn't hurt. The sample of skin is then examined in a laboratory.
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.