What causes genital itching and how to stop it
Itchy genitals can be a symptom of many different conditions. Some of these conditions cause worse itching at night, while others may seem worse at night because you have increased awareness since you're not focused on doing something else. If you have itchy private parts at any time of day or night, you should talk to your doctor. They can help you find the underlying cause and help you to stop your private parts from itching at night.
There are several conditions that can cause genital itching that gets worse at night.
This is a fungal infection that gets its name because it is common in athletes. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, like the groin, especially in people who wear tight clothes frequently. With jock itch, you may experience itching on your genitals, thighs, buttocks, or anus. People of any gender can experience jock itch.
Most cases of jock itch can be cured with over-the-counter antifungal creams. If you try one and your symptoms do not go away, talk to your doctor or a dermatologist. Make sure to dry off thoroughly after showers and workouts.
A vaginal yeast infection is a common cause of vaginal itching. You always have some candida, a fungus, in your vagina, but the balance of vaginal microorganisms can be disturbed, and the candida can grow too much.
Many things can cause your vaginal flora to become unbalanced. You can get a yeast infection from taking antibiotics or having a weakened immune system. People who are pregnant or taking hormonal birth control may also be more prone to getting yeast infections.
Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:
- Itchy vulva and vagina
- Thick, white, lumpy discharge
- Vaginal redness and swelling
- Cracked genital skin
- Burning during urination
You can treat many yeast infections with over-the-counter topical antifungal medication. However, if you are not sure what is causing your vaginal itching, it is best to consult a doctor first. Additionally, if you try the over-the-counter medication and it doesn't work, your doctor can prescribe a pill to treat the infection.
Your genitals can react to products like lubrication, condoms, baby wipes, scented soaps, vaginal douches, scented panty liners, and hygiene sprays. While anyone can have a reaction to products used on the genitals, women seem more prone to it.
If you suspect your genital itching is caused by a product, stop using it. Once you eliminate that product, your genital itching should fade away gradually. Your doctor can help you identify what might be causing the reaction.
Pinworms are a parasite that lives inside your intestines. They travel down to your rectum to lay their eggs, typically at night. When they lay their eggs there, the itching intensifies. It can be so itchy that it wakes you up in the middle of the night.
If you suspect that you have pinworms, you will need to see your doctor for a diagnosis. They may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medication. Typically they will prescribe medication to everyone in your household to avoid a recurring infection.
This is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes small blisters to appear on the genitals. Some people experience itching as part of an outbreak, especially when one is just starting. Other symptoms are pain, red bumps, white blisters, and scabs. You may also feel ill with symptoms like fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.
This is a sexually transmitted parasitic infection. Symptoms include:
- Genital itching
- Burning or discomfort with urination or ejaculation
- Penile discharge
- Changes to vaginal discharge
- Vaginal discharge that smells fishy
Treatment for trichomoniasis is a pill that kills the parasite. To avoid reinfection, you and all of your recent sexual partners should receive treatment.
Anyone can get this condition, but it is more common in menopausal women. It appears most often on the anus and genitals. It causes patchy white skin that can also be severely itchy. The cause is not known, but the condition is not contagious.
How do doctors diagnose itchy genitals?
Your doctor may examine the skin on your genitals to diagnose the cause of your itchy genitals. They may also perform lab tests like a swab to test for yeast infection. A blood test or a urine test can help to diagnose STIs. They will ask you questions about your itching like where it is located, how severe your itching is, and whether or not your itching keeps you awake at night. Once you have a diagnosis, your doctor will recommend a course of treatment.
How to prevent itchy genitals
To prevent itchy genitals, be sure to keep your genitals dry. Use a mild, unscented soap to wash and rinse thoroughly with water. Wear fresh underwear every day. Don't stay in wet clothing too long. Always use protection, like a condom, when having sex to lower your risk of contracting STIs.
People with vaginas should:
- Wipe from front to back to avoid spreading fecal matter to your vagina.
- Avoid using products like genital douches and sprays.
- Avoid scratching the area too often, as scratching can make the issue worse.
- Eat a well-balanced diet to keep balanced flora.
- Avoid shaving too often.
People with penises should:
- Wash under the foreskin if not circumcised.
- Change underwear when you get sweaty.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "8 REASONS YOUR GROIN ITCHES AND HOW TO GET RELIEF."
Better Health Channel: "Pinworms."
Cleveland Clinic: "Sexual Health: Genital Itching."
familydoctor.org: "Jock Itch."
John's Hopkins Medicine: "Genital Herpes."
Mayo Clinic: "Lichen sclerosus."
National Health Service: "Trichomoniasis."
Planned Parenthood: "What is a yeast infection?"
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Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal pain with urination, vaginal discharge, odor, and itching.
Treatment is generally OTC medications. A man can contract a yeast infection from his female sexual partner. Symptoms of a yeast infection in men include penile itching. Treatment is with oral or topical medication.