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Occasional itching around the vulval area (external female genital area) can be common in teenagers as they go through puberty. Genital skin is very delicate and needs to be treated gently.
Sometimes, irritation to the skin in the area can cause pain, which may be a condition called vulvovaginitis. The symptoms are usually not serious and improve naturally. See our fact sheet
Often people assume these symptoms are due to a thrush infection; however, there are many other possible reasons for the symptoms. Threadworms can also cause itching and redness around the vaginal area. See our fact sheet
There are many simple ways to reduce your symptoms if you have itch or irritation around the vulva. These suggestions will also help prevent symptoms from returning.
If your itch and irritation remain after trying the suggestions above, see your GP. Your GP may take a swab (small sample from the area) to determine if you have thrush or another infection, and then they can prescribe the right medication. If an inappropriate medication is used – even
one designed to treat genital infection – it may irritate the area, which can make the diagnosis of other conditions more difficult.
Also see the GP if you have:
How do I know if I have thrush?
If you have a thick, white discharge from their vagina (with a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance and yeasty smell) then it may be thrush. If there is a discharge, see your GP.
Could the pain and itching be an STI?
Pain, itch or discomfort may be signs of many different conditions, including thrush, urinary tract infection, trauma or sexually-transmitted infection. If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Dermatology department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed June 2018.
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