Genital Itching

Itchy genitals that interfere with your quality of life should be addressed by your healthcare provider. You could have a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema, an infection such as a yeast infection or maybe a sexually transmitted infection such as trichomoniasis. There are treatments to manage or even eliminate the symptoms.


What are itchy genitals?

Genital itchiness is an uncomfortable irritation you may feel on the skin of your genitals. It’s likely that everyone has felt an itch in their genitals at some point in their life. But if that itch doesn’t go away and interferes with your quality of life, you may need to see your healthcare provider for treatment. Certain skin conditions, allergic reactions and irritation from hygiene products like soap are common reasons you may experience itching in and around the pubic area of your vagina, or on your penis or scrotum.

Genital itching isn’t usually serious unless it:

  • Persists.
  • Is severe.
  • Comes back (recurs).
  • Is accompanied by irregular discharge from your vagina or penis or a visible rash.

Who is at risk for getting itchy genitals?

Anyone can get itchy genitals, no matter their age or sexual experience.

How common is this condition?

There isn’t an exact number, but genital itching is a very common condition that can affect anyone. It doesn’t always mean you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI).


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Symptoms and Causes

What do itchy genitals feel like?

Itchy genitals are any feelings that give you the urge to scratch the area of your vulva (the external part of your vagina), penis or scrotum. Sometimes, people notice redness, a rash, irregular discharge or other visible symptoms. Having an itchy private area doesn’t always mean you have an infection.

What causes itchy genitals?

Anyone can have itchy genitals and there are many causes. Some of the more common reasons for genital itching include:

Conditions that cause vaginal itch exclusively in people with a uterus include:

Conditions that cause genital itch exclusively in people with a penis include:

In many cases, itchy genitals due to irritation will clear up on their own if you stop using the irritants (such as lotions or soaps). Other causes of itching may require more intensive treatment. If you’re concerned about itchiness in your genitals that doesn’t go away, talk to your healthcare provider.

What aggravates itchy genitals?

Sweating, tight clothing and substances like soap, detergent and over-the-counter (OTC) feminine products (anti-itch products) can aggravate itchy genitals if a skin condition is causing the irritation.


What STI causes itchy genitals?

Several STIs can cause itchy genitals. These include:

  • Trichomoniasis.
  • Genital herpes.
  • Genital warts.
  • Chlamydia.
  • Gonorrhea.

Why am I itchy but no STI?

STIs aren’t the only reason a person can have itching in their genital region. Skin conditions or skin irritations are actually a more common reason to have itchiness in your private parts. Patients with psoriasis and/or eczema could have itching of their genitalia.


Diagnosis and Tests

What tests are done to diagnose itchy genitals?

Itchy genitals are a symptom of various conditions and infections. Your healthcare provider may have to examine your skin for the following:

  • The color of your skin (red, white, brown).
  • A change in the texture of your skin (thickening, thinning).
  • Surface changes in your skin (dryness, scales, flaking, oozing).

Your healthcare provider may need to confirm a diagnosis by scraping off part of your skin and looking at it under a microscope or sending it to a laboratory.

What questions might my healthcare provider ask to diagnose itchy genitals?

When you visit your healthcare provider to determine why your genitals are itchy, they may ask:

  • Where’s your itch located?
  • How often do you need to scratch?
  • Are you able to stop scratching?
  • How bad is your itchiness?
  • Does it keep you awake at night?
  • Have you had any new sexual partners?
  • Have you changed laundry detergents or dryer sheets recently?

Management and Treatment

What medicines treat itchy genitals?

The treatment for itchy genitals depends on the cause. If you have eczema, your healthcare provider may prescribe topical steroid creams. Lichen sclerosus and lichen simplex chronicus are treated with topical steroids. If steroid creams aren’t effective for lichen sclerosus, it may respond to phototherapy (light therapy). Your provider will recommend antifungal medications for jock itch or a yeast infection. Sometimes lifestyle changes, like changing detergents or changing your underwear more frequently, can help with mild genital itching.

Your healthcare provider will diagnose you and recommend the best treatment based on the underlying condition.

Who will treat my itchy genitals?

Your primary care provider can treat itchy genitals in most cases. But, if your skin condition is severe or you don’t find relief after treatment from your provider, you might want to see a dermatologist.


How can I reduce my risk of itchy genitals?

There are ways to reduce your risk of having itchy genitals. The exact methods may vary depending on if you have a vagina or if you have a penis.

Everyone should take the following steps to help prevent itchy genitals:

  • Keep your genital area clean and dry. Use mild soap and rinse well with water. Avoid over-cleaning the area. Pat your genitals dry.
  • Wear loose, natural-fiber underwear and clothing. Change your underwear at least every 24 hours.
  • Dry off thoroughly after bathing and swimming. Avoid staying in wet clothing for long periods of time.
  • Avoid unprotected sex, especially if you’re worried that you or your partner might have an infection.

People with a vagina should take the following steps to help avoid itchy genitals:

  • Always wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from your anus from entering your vagina.
  • Avoid chemical products such as douches or feminine hygiene sprays, which can upset the acidic balance of your vagina.
  • Avoid using excessive amounts of laundry detergent in the washing machine.
  • Stay away from over-the-counter itch blockers, as these products can make the itching worse in the long term.
  • If you suspect a vaginal lubricant might be worsening the itching, talk to your healthcare provider about the best options for lubrication.
  • Avoid trauma to the area, such as excessive shaving and scratching.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet to maintain healthy bacteria in your vagina.
  • Avoid scented tampons or sanitary pads.

People with a penis should take the following steps to help avoid itchy genitals:

  • Wash your penis well, including the area under the foreskin if you’re uncircumcised.
  • If you sweat throughout the day, consider changing your underwear before bed.

Outlook / Prognosis

How long will I have itchy genitals?

The prognosis depends on what’s causing the itch.

Psoriasis, for example, has no cure. However, you can manage its symptoms. Trichomoniasis is curable. With treatment, it can clear up in about a week.

Ask your healthcare provider about a timeline based on your diagnosis.

Can itchy genitals go away on their own?

Yes, but if the itch gets worse or lasts for a long time, you should see your healthcare provider. You might have mild skin irritation, or it might be something more serious, such as a sexually transmitted infection that requires immediate treatment.

Living With

How do I take care of myself?

Itchy genitals shouldn’t keep you from living your normal life. If they do, then you should seek treatment right away from your healthcare provider. There are a number of ways you can take care of your itchy genitals. Examples include:

  • Don’t wear tight clothing.
  • Take medications as directed.
  • Shower quickly after sweating.
  • Avoid soaps and detergents that aggravate your skin.
  • Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan.

Try not to scratch! In some cases, the more you scratch, the itchier your skin gets. You might also tear your skin, causing bleeding, soreness and/or burning. Torn skin can sometimes become infected.

When should I see my healthcare provider?

See your healthcare provider about your itchy genitals if they last for a long time or come back frequently and affect your quality of life. They can help you pinpoint the problem.

Contact your provider anytime you notice the following symptoms when you have genital itching:

  • Abnormal discharge. This includes irregular color, texture, consistency or smells.
  • Burning, swelling or pain, especially when you pee.
  • Any type of lump or growth in your skin.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider about itchy genitals?

Some questions you might as your provider about itchiness in your private areas include:

  • What’s causing my itchy genitals?
  • What’s the best treatment?
  • Are there any over-the-counter products I should use?
  • What can I do at home to manage my itchy genitals?
  • How can I prevent itchy genitals?
  • What products should I avoid?

Additional Common Questions

Why do my private parts itch at night?

Having itchier skin at night is common because that’s the time of day when changes to your body temperature and increases in blood flow to your skin occur. Your skin also loses water at night, making your skin extra dry and prone to itch. Additionally, you’re more aware of these itchy sensations because you’re trying to relax and get some sleep. Since you’re distracted by work, activities and other events throughout the day, you may not be as aware of the itchiness.

Your healthcare provider may recommend an antihistamine at bedtime to help you rest.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

You don’t have to just live with itchy genitals. There are effective treatments to relieve or even eliminate your symptoms. See your healthcare provider for help and be sure to take your medications as directed. Itchy genitals shouldn’t interfere with your quality of life. Do your best not to scratch so that you don’t make your itchiness worse!

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 04/17/2023.

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