How are the symptoms of vulvar pruritus (itching) treated?

Greenville Health System
Because vulvar pruritus has multiple etiologies, treatment depends on correct diagnosis.
  • Lichen sclerosis. This condition is characterized by white patches that are extremely itchy and can develop into painful erosions and ulcerations. If left untreated, lichen sclerosis can scar the vulva, narrowing the vaginal opening. Extensive scarring can prevent intercourse and may close the urethra, causing women to have trouble urinating. Fortunately, if treatment begins before anatomic distortion occurs, response is excellent. Close monitoring is recommended, since recurrence is common and these women are at increased risk of developing vulvar carcinomas (cancer).
  • Lichen simplex chronicus. This condition is caused by chronic exposure to irritants, leading to excessive scratching, which further traumatizes and irritates skin. Treatment is focused on eliminating potential irritants and preventing scratching. Women with this condition are instructed to wear gloves to bed, and a sleeping medication may be given to reduce scratching at night. These women are told to wash the vulva with water only, wear white cotton underwear, use white toilet paper, and to wash clothes with certain laundry detergents without fabric softeners. If they have an allergy to menstrual pads, a source for organic cotton pads is provided.
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa. This condition causes acne-like lesions to grow into the skin, resulting in chronic inflammation. Women with this disorder experience various degrees of pain, drainage, and scarring. It is more common in overweight women, African-Americans, and women with a family history of the condition. Treatment begins with an antibiotic wash, hormonal intervention, and weight loss. Advanced disease requires aggressive surgical management.
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Continue Learning about Gynecology



There are many key areas in the field of female reproductive system health, including menstruation, pregnancy, fertility, and menopause. As a woman, you may be concerned about other issues related to your sexual health, including ...

genital problems and sexually transmitted diseases. If you are a female that is sexually active, or over the age of 18, it is important to begin seeing a womans' health specialist in order to make sure that your reproductive system stays healthy. Before that, any concerns with menstruation should be addressed with a physician. As you get older, most women become concerned with issues pertaining to avoiding or achieving pregnancy, until menopause begins around age 50.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.