Why is my intimate area itchy?

Vulvar itching, also known as vulvar pruritus, may affect as many as 1 in 5 women. Its true prevalence is not easy to assess, as many women feel embarrassed to talk about it.

This itching affects the quality of life and impacts personal and sexual relationships, physical activity, quality of sleep, and even self-esteem.

There are several causes of vulvar itching:

  • Irritating hygiene and care products
  • Inflammatory and infectious diseases
  • Hormonal and pH changes
  • Changes in the vulvar flora
  • Stress
  • Peripheral nervous system imbalances

Keep reading to discover them in detail!

What are the causes of vulvar itching?

The female intimate area is a susceptible area that requires special care. Slight alterations can generate very uncomfortable itching, which has very diverse causes. Some of them are: 

  • Irritating hygiene and self-care products. Many substances that contact the vulva, such as fragrances and preservatives, can irritate. They are found in soaps and creams, cleansing wipes, feminine hygiene products such as sanitary napkins and tampons, detergents, fabric softeners, or scented toilet paper.
  • Inflammatory diseases. Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, or lichen planus can irritate the vulva. They usually occur on other parts of the body at the same time as they appear in the vaginal area. In addition, some conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, are intensified by fragrances and preservatives.
  • Infectious diseases. The most common vulvovaginal infectious disease in adult women is candidiasis. It is an infection caused mainly by the fungus Candida albicans, which produces itching and burning in the vulvovaginal area. In adult women, vulvovaginal candidiasis is a persistent cause of vulvar itching. It is estimated that 3 out of 4 women have suffered from it at some point in their lives.

Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, or trichomoniasis, can also cause vulvar itching.

  • Changes in hormone levels. The decrease in estrogen levels that occurs at different periods of women’s lives, such as menopause, breastfeeding, and postpartum, alters the barrier function of the vulvar skin, causing its mucosa to become thinner. It causes dryness, which in turn leads to irritation and itching.
  • Changes of the vulvar flora. In the vulva, we can find a set of beneficial microorganisms, or microbiota, that protect the area and prevent infections. Alteration of the proportions of the different bacteria of the flora, known as dysbiosis, can cause vulvar itching.
  • Stress. Prolonged periods of stress can weaken our immune system, leading to itching and irritation of the vulva.
  • Changes in pH. In general, the vagina presents an acid pH of around 4. Its alteration favors the appearance of discomfort, such as itching, burning, or irritation. Changes in the microbiota due to the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics can alter the pH of the vagina. Hormonal changes throughout the life of women also lead to changes in pH, being higher than 4 in periods such as puberty or menopause.
  • Peripheral nervous system imbalances. The peripheral nervous system transmits information between the brain and the rest of the body, and any damage or dysfunction in these nerves can cause unusual symptoms, such as itching. Neuropathies, infections, immune disorders, or local lesions can cause alterations in the peripheral nervous system, generating uncomfortable sensations.

Skin barrier function is altered in the vulva.

Many causes of itching, such as atopic dermatitis or psoriasis, are associated with altered skin barrier function. The alteration of the skin barrier in the intimate area due to inflammation and mechanical or environmental damage activates itch receptors.

The skin barrier function of the vulvar skin is weaker than in other areas of our body, making it more prone to itching. Numerous studies show that it is more reactive to irritants than other areas.

Once the skin is damaged and its barrier function has been disrupted, it is more susceptible to the substances that trigger itching. Maintaining the skin’s barrier function in this delicate area is essential to reduce and prevent itching.

Prospera Biotech has developed Vulvisens, a neurodermatological cream that acts on the nerve endings of the vulvar skin, which are responsible for uncomfortable sensations, restoring balance, and soothing itching. It also combines prebiotic ingredients that help repair and strengthen the natural microbiota, antioxidants, and re-epithelializers that help regenerate areas damaged by previous infections.

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