How can genital itching be avoided?

Females should take the following steps to help avoid genital itching:

  • After urination or bowel movements, wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from the anus (rectum) entering the vagina.
  • Avoid chemical products such as vaginal douches or feminine hygiene sprays, which can upset the acidic balance of the vagina.
  • Avoid the use of 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 lubricant might be worsening the itching, talk to your doctor about the best options.
  • Avoid trauma to the area, such as excessive shaving and scratching.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet to maintain healthy bacteria in the vagina.

Males should take the following steps to help avoid genital itching:

  • Wash the penis well, including the area under the foreskin in uncircumcised men.
  • If you sweat throughout the day, consider changing underwear frequently.

Both males and females should take the following steps to help prevent genital itching:

  • Keep the genital area clean and dry. Use mild soap, or better yet, avoid soap completely, and rinse well with water. Avoid over-cleaning the vaginal area.
  • Wear loose, natural-fiber underwear and clothing. Change 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 are worried that you or your partner might have an infection.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/28/2015.

References

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease. Genital Itch in Women Accessed 1/28/2015.
  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Fungus Infections Accessed 1/28/2015.
  • DermNet New Zealand Trust. Itchy Vulva (Pruritus Vulvae) Accessed 1/28/2015.
  • DermNet New Zealand Trust. Balanitis Accessed 1/28/2015.
  • Berger TG. Dermatologic Disorders. In: Papadakis MA, McPhee SJ, Rabow MW. eds. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014. library.ccf.org Accessed 1/28/2015.

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