What to do about itchy pubic hair
Experiencing itchy pubic hair can be troubling at first, especially if the itch lasts beyond a few minutes.
If a person does not know why they have a persistent itch, they should see their doctor for a diagnosis and to discuss treatment options.
Treatment for itchy pubic hair will depend on the underlying cause.
In the sections below, we list some of these potential causes of itchy pubic hair.
Causes of itchy pubic hair include lice, razor burn, and contact dermatitis.
Crabs, the common name for pubic lice, are tiny insects that feed off human blood, holding on to the hair for support.
Although it is common for pubic lice to spread via sex, anyone can get them. This is because they may live up to 24 hours away from a human host.
Lice bites cause a reaction in the skin, leading to persistent itching in the pubic area. The person may also experience irritation or fatigue.
The person may find very small bugs in their pubic hair or tiny, oval eggs at the bottom part of the hairs. Both the insects and the eggs may be very hard to see, often requiring a magnifying glass.
There are several over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, creams, and shampoos available to treat pubic lice. If these have no effect, stronger prescription treatments may be necessary.
People will also need to remove the eggs and wash their bedding on the hottest setting to kill any remaining lice or eggs that are present.
Razor burn can lead to an itchy pubic region in many people. Cutting the hairs in this area may cause irritation, which can be worse if a person shaves too fast or uses a dull razor.
Razor burn typically appears as a reddish area of skin, occurring alongside tender red bumps and itching.
Practicing proper shaving techniques may help prevent irritation. These techniques include:
- shaving with warm water to soften the hair
- using a sharp new razor
- trimming longer hairs before shaving
- using hypoallergenic shaving creams or gels
- shaving slowly and evenly in the direction of the grain of the hair, not against it
Contact dermatitis is the medical term for skin inflammation arising from something touching the skin that irritates it or causes an allergic reaction.
Several things may cause contact dermatitis in the groin leading to itchy pubic hair, including:
- detergents, dyes, or fabric softeners in the underwear
- perfumes or fragrances
- chemicals in soap, lotion, or other skin care products a person uses
- sexual lubricant
- latex in condoms or gloves
- sanitary napkins
Dermatitis may present other symptoms, such as hives, flaky skin, or an itchy red rash.
In some cases, the solution may be avoiding a certain product or clothing that causes the irritation. Switching to a new detergent or another product may also help symptoms improve. Using OTC antihistamines may help control allergic reactions.
Anyone uncertain about what the underlying issue is should contact a dermatologist for allergy testing.
Eczema is another form of dermatitis.
As a study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine notes, eczema is most common among young children. However, a smaller number of adults may also have recurring forms of the condition.
Eczema can appear similar to many different skin issues. It shares many of the same potential irritants as contact dermatitis. It generally causes dryness, itching, and sensitive skin in patches on the body, including the groin.
OTC creams may help control symptoms such as itching. Using hypoallergenic products may also help relieve symptoms in the long term.
Yeast infections occur when there is an overgrowth of Candida, which is a naturally occurring fungus on the skin.
Yeast infections are very common. The Office on Women's Health note that around 75% of all females will develop a vaginal yeast infection at some point.
Yeast infections commonly cause itching in the groin, as well as:
- pain during sex
- pain while urinating
- thick, white vaginal discharge
Using OTC antifungal medications may help treat yeast infections in many people. Some cases require stronger prescription medication.
Other fungal infections such as tinea cruris, or "jock itch," may also cause itching in the pubic area.
Jock itch is very common and occurs most often in damp, warm environments, such as the groin of someone who has been exercising.
The area may become inflamed and irritated. A red, scaly patch of skin may also form in the area that causes extreme itchiness.
Several OTC antifungal ointments may help treat jock itch. If these OTC ointments are not effective, stronger prescription options may kill the fungus.
Intertrigo may initially develop from dermatitis. Intertrigo is a skin condition that causes a red rash to appear in moist areas of the body, such as the skin folds, the armpits, and the area near the groin.
The moisture and heat near the groin may cause an overgrowth of bacteria and fungi. The rash may be dark, very itchy, and have a foul smelling odor.
OTC antibacterial creams can reduce bacterial overgrowth, and antifungal creams can reduce fungal overgrowth.
People with psoriasis may develop plaques in their groin and upper thighs.
The National Psoriasis Foundation note that around 33–66% of people with psoriasis experience genital psoriasis at some point.
Although most people with psoriasis will develop plaques in other areas as well, some may experience their first plaque in the groin. This can cause itchiness and red, scaly skin in the area.
A doctor may prescribe oral medication to a person with genital psoriasis.
Treating genital psoriasis is tricky due to the sensitive skin in the area, but some treatment options include:
- topical medications
- oral medications
- light therapy using ultraviolet B light
- biologics (usually for people whose conditions do not respond to other treatments)
Rarely, some types of skin cancer can cause itchiness in the groin.
If skin cancer occurs on the penis or the vulva, it may lead to thick, red patches of skin that constantly itch. The skin may ooze or drain, and it may be more sensitive or prone to bleeding.
For skin cancer, a doctor will run tests and perform physical examinations to find the best treatment option for an individual.
In most cases of simple irritation that causes itchy pubic hair, prevention methods can go a long way to helping someone avoid the issue.
Here are some steps to prevent itchy pubic hair:
Although scratching an itch may bring momentary relief, it can cause more damage and irritation in the area, which may only make symptoms worse.
Scratching also increases the risk of other issues, such as cuts and infection.
Practice good hygiene
Regularly washing the groin and body as a whole may help prevent the buildup of certain germs that cause irritation.
Keep the area dry
Keep the groin and pelvic area dry after cleaning and whenever possible.
To do so, wear loose fitting, natural materials to promote air circulation and towel off properly after taking a shower or going swimming.
Avoid spending time in wet clothing, such as bathing suits or workout clothes.
Switching to hypoallergenic products such as detergents, soaps, and lotions may reduce exposure to allergens and avoid irritation in the pubic area.
When to see a doctor
If itching pubic hair persists, a person should seek medical advice.
Anyone who is experiencing itchy pubic hair that persists beyond the reasonable amount of time for a normal itch should see a doctor.
They may examine the area and run tests for medical issues or sexually transmitted infections. They may also refer the person to an allergist or dermatologist to run additional tests.
Anyone using a remedy that is not improving their symptoms should see a doctor for treatment.
Seeing a doctor is the best way to receive a full diagnosis and treat the issue in many cases.
Some causes of itchy pubic hair will require only simple remedies. Others will need stronger medical treatments and strict lifestyle changes to control.
Preventive steps can go a long way in helping a person avoid itchy pubic hair.
Anyone experiencing symptoms that do not improve with home remedies should see a doctor for a full diagnosis and treatment.