When a person’s vulva or vagina is itchy but there is no unusual discharge, it is not normally a cause for concern. However, persistent itching may be a symptom of something more serious.
This article reviews some potential causes of an itchy vagina or vulva with no discharge. It also provides some home remedies and prevention methods and recommends when to contact a doctor.
Contact dermatitis occurs when the sensitive skin around the vagina comes into contact with a substance that causes itching. Although the condition is not life threatening, it can be very uncomfortable.
The symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
- severe itching (with no unusual discharge)
- flushed skin
Contact dermatitis can happen when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or allergen.
Some of the irritating substances that can cause an itchy vagina or vulva with no discharge include:
- scented soaps or body washes
- vaginal lubricants and spermicides
- latex condoms
- scented tampons and menstrual pads
- tight clothing
- scented detergent or fabric softeners
To treat contact dermatitis, the first step is to figure out what is causing it. After identifying the cause, the next step is to avoid the substance. Then, the symptoms should go away within a few days or weeks.
A person can also apply anti-itch creams such as topical corticosteroids to the skin of the vulva to ease itching. A person should not put creams or other treatments into the vagina unless a healthcare provider advises them to do so.
Severe episodes of contact dermatitis are very rare. For these, a doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids.
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin condition that typically affects the genitals and anus, causing the skin to appear thinner than usual. White spots around the vulva usually accompany the condition.
Although individuals with mild lichen sclerosus may not experience any symptoms, the following symptoms may appear as the condition progresses:
- an itchy vulva (with no unusual discharge)
- pain during sexual intercourse
- flushed skin around the vulva
- smooth, white patches around the area
Although healthcare professionals do not yet know what causes lichen sclerosus, researchers believe that the condition results from hormone imbalances and immune conditions and that it may run in families.
Lichen sclerosis does not currently have a cure. However, a doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids to relieve the symptoms. If that does not work, they may prescribe immune-modulating drugs.
Public lice may cause an itchy vulva or vagina with no unusual discharge. Pubic lice are tiny, parasitic insects that usually attach to pubic hair or coarse hair elsewhere on the body.
They cause intense itching in the genital area.
Some symptoms of pubic lice include:
- itching (with no unusual discharge)
- pale blue or blood spots near bites
- visible eggs or crawling lice
Having sexual intercourse is the primary way to transmit pubic lice. It is also possible to catch them by sharing blankets, sheets, towels, or underwear with people who have pubic lice.
Over-the-counter (OTC) lotions and shampoos can help treat pubic lice. For severe cases, a doctor may prescribe medications such as malathion, ivermectin, or lindane.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a condition that causes itchy, flushed skin. Inflamed, itchy patches can appear anywhere on the body, including in the pubic area.
Symptoms of eczema can include:
- intense itching (with no unusual discharge)
- flushed skin
- dry, scaly skin
Eczema usually disappears on its own but flares up from time to time. The cause of flare-ups may vary from person to person.
The following are a few common triggers for eczema:
- irritants and allergens
- hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy and at certain points in the menstrual cycle
- certain foods, such as dairy products, soy products, and more
- changes in weather
Currently, there is no cure for eczema. However, the treatment options available aim to prevent flare-ups. When a doctor diagnoses eczema, they will suggest a treatment plan based on the person’s age and symptoms.
Self-care remedies, such as taking lukewarm baths and moisturizing the affected area, could help ease eczema symptoms.
A doctor may also prescribe medications such as topical corticosteroid creams or antibiotics.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that spreads through sexual contact.
Some people with genital herpes may not have any symptoms. Others may experience the following:
- itchy genitals (with no unusual discharge)
- blisters that may rapture and ooze fluid
- body aches
- sores around the vagina and cervix (in females)
- sores around the penis and scrotum (in males)
Genital herpes does not currently have a cure. However, antiviral medications such as acyclovir (Zovirax) and valacyclovir (Valtrex) can help manage the symptoms by:
- reducing itchiness and healing the sores during the initial outbreak
- reducing flare-ups
- minimizing the risk of transmission
It is possible to experience razor burn after shaving any part of the body, including the pubic area. Razor burn occurs when the razor pulls the hair, leading to irritated follicles.
A person with razor burn may experience the following symptoms:
- intense itching (with no unusual discharge)
- small, flushed bumps
Razor burn requires no treatment. It heals on its own. However, a person should try to avoid shaving the affected area until it has completely healed.
OTC topical creams containing hydrocortisone can help reduce swelling and itching.
Although sweating around the pubic area is normal, excessive sweating could cause itchy genitals (with no unusual discharge). Itching can cause a lot of discomfort.
A person can sweat abnormally around the groin due to:
- wearing tight underwear, especially when it is made of synthetic material
- working out
- having overweight or obesity
To reduce itching due to sweat, a person may wish to try wearing breathable cotton underwear and not wearing tight clothing.
Certain home treatment options can help soothe an itchy vagina or vulva. Although they may not cure the cause of the itchiness, they may help treat the symptoms.
Home remedies for an itchy vagina or vulva include:
- taking an oatmeal bath
- taking a baking soda bath
- using OTC topical creams
- using a warm compress on the area
- wearing breathable cotton underwear
Do not insert creams or any other treatments into the vagina unless a healthcare provider has recommended this.
The following are a few things a person can do to help prevent an itchy vagina or vulva:
- Avoid douching.
- Avoid using scented personal care products in the vaginal area.
- Keep the vaginal area clean and dry.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing.
- Always wear breathable cotton underwear.
- Wipe from the front to the back after urinating or having a bowel movement.
- Practice safe sex to prevent STIs.
When home treatment options do not work, it is best to contact a doctor. A doctor will diagnose the condition causing the itchiness.
To diagnose an itchy vagina or vulva that does not present with unusual discharge, a doctor may ask several questions about the symptoms, including how severe they are and how long they have lasted.
Beyond that, a doctor may examine the genital area. They will then recommend the best treatment plan for the particular person and their condition.
A person should seek medical attention if the following symptoms accompany the itchiness:
- body aches or headaches
- flushed skin
- pain or tenderness in the genital area
- discomfort during sexual intercourse
There are several potential causes of an itchy vagina or vulva with no discharge. These include razor burn, eczema, and pubic lice.
Some home remedies, such as wearing breathable underwear and taking an oatmeal bath, can work to relieve the symptoms.