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Oh That Itch!

This month I would like to discuss a nagging problem that many women have but goes misdiagnosed, Vulvodynia. Often, as women, at the first sign of vaginal itching we assume we have a yeast infection. There are many over the counter products used to treat this issue. But, what happens if symptoms persist???

Vulvodynia is the term used to describe chronic itching of the vulva or outer female genital area. Although termed chronic it can come and go and be repetitive or be consistent. Many times symptoms are related to other diagnoses such as a yeast infection, bacterial infection, or other dermatological issues. However, sometimes there is no clear cut answer yet pain, itching, burning, and stinging persist. Many women struggle with discomfort, treat with OTC regimens, and set themselves up for a repetitive scratch-itch cycle and vulvar pain. Unfortunately, symptoms continue affecting us physically and often emotionally as it can lead to a decreased desire for intimacy. Treatment options are available, so I urge you not to guess and to seek the help of a women’s health provider.

In the meantime, be sure to keep your female genital area clean and dry. Cotton underwear is ideal as it allows air flow to the skin. Avoid long term wear of panty-hose/spandex, or tight fitting clothing. Change pads if worn frequently and avoid use of scented products in this general area. Although it may sound funny, ice packs can be used to soothe the repetitive itching if needed. Hope this was helpful, until next time…

~ Elizabeth Schalliol, MSN
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner