Dry, flaky skin in a female’s pubic area can have many causes, including skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis. Allergies and bacterial or fungal infections may also be the cause. Hair removal products or even wearing tight clothing can also damage the skin, making it dry, itchy, and flaky.
Sometimes, females experience dry, flaky skin in their pubic area. The area may be itchy or look flushed or scaly. There may be patches of skin that look and feel irritated.
The right treatment will depend on the cause of the problem.
This article will look at some of the most common causes of the problem and how to treat them. It will also outline some possible home remedies and explain when it might be a good idea to speak with a doctor.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
People can have dry skin anywhere on the body, including the pelvic area.
To stay soft, supple, and stretchy, the skin needs water and oils that the body makes naturally. Without them, skin can dry out, leading to symptoms such as:
- patches of itchy or scaly skin
- flaky skin with a rough texture
- skin that stings or burns
- peeling skin
- itchy skin
The American Academy of Dermatology has said that some people are more at risk of dry skin than others. They include:
- people over the age of 40 years
- people with brown, black, or fair skin, as opposed to a medium complexion
- people with a diagnosis of diabetes, thyroid disease, HIV, or kidney disease
- people who live in cold climates
- people who smoke
Drinking plenty of water and moisturizing the pubic area regularly can help heal the dry skin. A person can also increase their intake of certain vitamins to help get rid of dry skin, including:
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that can affect any part of the body, including the pubic area. It is very common. In fact, up to
It can cause patches of flaky, inflamed skin and itching. In people with light skin, the patches might look red with a silvery sheen. For people with dark skin, the patches might be purple, gray, or dark brown.
People with genital psoriasis will usually have the patches elsewhere on their body as well.
The symptoms of psoriasis tend to fluctuate in severity.
Depending on the severity of the condition, doctors may recommend creams, lotions, and ointments that moisturize the skin and ease the itching. In some cases, doctors may prescribe oral medications such as biological drugs to help to control the inflammation.
Sometimes, a person can have an allergic reaction to a certain product, such as:
- hygiene products
- scented sanitary pads
- barrier contraceptives
Doctors call this contact dermatitis. It is a form of eczema that causes dry, itchy rashes. The rash can break out anywhere on that body that comes into contact with an allergen, including the skin on the pubic area.
These rashes can be very itchy. Sometimes, if a person scratches them, the rash will break open and ooze fluid.
Doctors may recommend creams and ointments, including steroid creams, to treat contact dermatitis. They may also advise people to use soap-replacement products and avoid scrubbing the area harshly.
The pubic area may be more likely than other parts of the body to become irritated. This may be because this area is more prone to sweating, comes into contact with tight clothing, and may cause friction between the skin surfaces.
The problem will usually get better if the person removes the cause of the irritation.
Products that people use in the pubic area may also cause skin irritation, such as:
- bubble baths
- shower gels
- talcum powder
- baby wipes or feminine wipes
- personal deodorants
- hemorrhoid treatments
Urine and feces can also irritate the skin. If a person experiences incontinence, they should avoid trying to manage it using wipes and pads and seek specialist treatment.
If irritation persists, a person should contact their doctor.
Vaginal infections, or vaginitis, can result in itchy, flaky skin on the vulva and pubic area. The three most common vaginal infections are:
As well as itchy, flaky skin, vaginal infections can cause:
- unusual discharge
- discharge with a different smell to usual
- pain or irritation during urination
- pain or burning during sex
- spotting or bleeding between periods
If a person notices any of the signs above, they should seek advice from their doctor. A person with a vaginal infection may require treatment in the form of antibiotics that they can take as a tablet or apply as a cream.
Learn more about the different types of vaginal infections here.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may also cause dry, flaky skin in the pubic area.
One example of these is scabies, an itchy skin condition that occurs due to tiny mites that burrow into the outer layers of the skin. Another example is pubic lice, which are small insects that live on humans and survive by feeding on blood.
If a person notices dry skin and sores, it could be a sign of genital herpes or genital warts.
The correct treatment will depend on the type of infection. Doctors will carry out a test to find out which type a person has. They will then prescribe antibacterial or antiviral medicines.
Lichen sclerosus is a skin condition that, in females, most commonly affects the skin of the vulva.
Doctors do not know what causes it, but it may have links to a fault in the immune system. It is not contagious, and a person cannot spread this condition during sex.
Lichen sclerosus may cause patches of skin to look white and shiny. Sometimes, small cracks and blisters may appear in these patches.
Other symptoms include:
- tightening of the skin
- discomfort during urination or defecation
- discomfort during sex
Lichen sclerosus is chronic, meaning there is no cure. But people can use medicines to control the symptoms.
Treatment options include prescription-strength steroid creams and moisturizers.
If a person has persistent dry, flaky skin on their pubic area, they should contact their doctor. Many of the causes of dry, flaky skin require medical treatment.
There are things people can do at home to ease the symptoms and help prevent them from coming back, including:
- drinking plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated
- avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can dry out the skin
- applying a cold compress to ease the itching
- moisturizing the area regularly
A person should avoid the activities:
- wearing tight-fitting clothing, pantyhose, or underwear
- rubbing the vulva dry after washing
- taking long, hot baths or showers
- douching or using harsh intimate cleaning products
- using irritating self-care products and scented sanitary pads
Lots of different conditions and factors can cause dry, flaky skin in the pubic area, and treatment will depend on the cause. Some conditions may worsen over time, and a person may risk giving conditions such as STIs to other people too.
A person should always contact a doctor if they notice dry, flaky skin in their pubic area that does not get better. This is particularly true if the symptoms are interfering with everyday life.
A person who feels embarrassed should remember that lots of these causes are common in females.
Allergic reactions, skin conditions, and vaginal infections can all cause dry, flaky skin. Close-fitting clothes and intimate cleaning products can irritate the skin, which can cause the same symptoms.
The best treatment will depend on the cause of the issue. While many of the conditions will require medical attention, there are things people can do at home to help with the symptoms.
Anyone who suspects they have a vaginal infection or a skin condition should speak with a doctor.