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Persistent Vulva Itching
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Persistent Vulva Itching

Over the past 4 years I have experienced these symptoms, ranging from mild (barely noticable) - severe (effecting daily activities):

- Irritated and itchy vulva area,
- When severe, skin becomes raw, clitoris looks swollen and pushed out,
- White callused looking skin appears (skin eventually breaks) around the clitoris,
- Labia majora sometimes becomes swollen as a result of the irritation
- Gland on right groin has been hardened in the past couple of years, and when the condition worsens, it becomes sore (doctor had previously said it was normal)
- Extreme flares and conditions exist approximately a week or two prior to my period

I am a 23-yr. old. I have had no abnormal discharge or smells. I have been in a monogamous relationship for 6-years, and we have been each others' first and only. I have been to the doctors a couple of times, and they have ruled out any STD's and bacterial infections. To help with the irritation I have been using maximum strength Vagisil, neosporin (for when the skin breaks), and an ice pack when the itching is unbearable. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night because of the itching. Does anyone have any experience with this, and if so, what relief have you found?

I have not gone to the doctors yet because I just got removed from my parent's insurance. Also, any advice in regards to going to a planned parenthood clinic? Is it affordable?

Any comments or advice would be more than appreciated! Thank you!
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6 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi, i'm 23 yrs old too and the symptoms you've describe are the exact same symptoms I have been experiencing for the past 2 yrs. I still have not found anything that helps. I have mentioned this to my doctor each time I go to visit and it is so frustrating because she keeps giving me different creams to use that do not work. It makes me depressed because I feel like there is something gross and wrong with me. I have been with my Husband for 5 years and we have been checked for STDs and infections also.

I am also 20wks pregnant and have noticed that since I have been pregnant..the symptoms are worse then ever. We can rarely have sex at the moment because of the pain irritation has caused.

I am going to see my doctor again today because there must be something that can be done. So I will let you know how I go.
Also Just out of curiosity, does your partner have foreskin? I know thats personal but my husband is uncircumcised and sometimes I wonder if it could have something to do with this? who knows?
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Avatar_f_tn
I am having the samr problem currently.  I'm extremely itchy and at sometimes it burns.  I've been checked for all stds and herpes twice and it has all came back neagitive.  I don't know what t do.  I have an apt with a speacialist on Monday so i'll let you knwo what happens from there.
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Avatar_n_tn
I hope you aren't itchy anymore. But just in case I recommend you to go to a vulva disorders specialist. I had the same symptoms as you for 8 months and my OB couldn't find what was wrong with me. I used a lot of pills and creams that never helped. My OB sent me to the specialist who performed a lot of test and a biopsy and he found that I had Lichen simplex chronicus. It was a relief to know what I had. I'm in treatment right now and the itch is gone!
Please, don't scratch. It make it worse. I know that's almost impossible, but the specialist told me that the scratching was the reason I wasn't cured. To be cured you have to stop the itch-scratch cycle. He gave some pills to help me sleep so I don't scratch at night.
I truly understand your pain. As you I am in monogamous relationship and we also have been each others' first. So, it was very frustrating for us. Hope you have been relieved of all this itchiness :-)  

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Avatar_f_tn
I too have same symptoms.  I had a hard time getiing any tst done at my doctors, so after 2 years of agony, went to a sexual health clinic.  I must add that by then it was intolerable and steadily getting worse.
I first went 2 months ago, and am now awaiting rusults of biopsy.  I suggest you do the same.  It gives great relief, (though im anxious about results), but i know i will get the correct diagnosis, and therfore hopefully a treatment that works!!!!!

Will keep you posted on the result

All the best,
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489718_tn?1278861640
Thankfully, the worse has subsided, but I still get bouts of irritation a week or two prior to my period starting. The itching isn't as bad as it use to be during these spells, so I am relieved that I can be normal without doing the secretive "itchy dance" in public.

After changing my OBGYN doctor for the 2nd time, she diagnosed me with some type of vulvar dystrophy. She then prescribed 2% hydrocortisone cream to apply to the area, which would break down the skin build up that she thought was causing the problems. Like any other treatment doctors prescribed to me, it was a long road  before I saw any improvement. So, it's hard to say if it was the cream or the time that past that healed things up.

Also, she had mentioned that my day-to-day stress may also be worsening the symptoms I was having, which is ironic since the root of my stress at the time was the stupid irritation!

Anyway, I hope things go well. Keep me updated on how it goes. It's comforting to have someone that understands the frustration. Good luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
hi there, im so glad younare doing better.  I am sitting wriring this in agony!!!!!!!!!!!! I am red raw, and going through the torture of not scratching, though its all i want to do.  It is so horrible going through this.  I jeent able to give me results, told me it was too soon, etc. the gun on monday and phoned the clinic, but they werst hope i ge my biopsy result soon, and get a treattment  that actuallly works.  My 2 week wait will be over tomorrow, but whether i get te reslts tomorrow is the question. Im glad you foud a good gyn, that makes a huge difference from getting 1 that dosnt give a dam!!  keep me posted on how you find your treatment. xx
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489718_tn?1278861640
Hi chelle000 -

I definitely know what you mean. The worst spell was when I had scratched it so raw and showered so much (the cleanliness feeling made things more comfortable, but always at a price), and I had tried various OTC creams which only made me swell beyond belief! Let's just say it freaked me out!

I highly doubt a doctor would recommend what I am telling you, but for me when it was so raw I would use the Vagisil maximum strength creams to temporarily deal with the itch. However, I'll have to warn you, it will BURN beyond belief when you initially apply it on, but if you can get over that part, you'll find some relief for a bit. The Vagisil wipes are good for when you are at work or school for a long time, and don't really have a choice with the creams.

Icing it helps, but don't go overboard... I learned that the hard way, and thought I had given myself frostbite, lol. I know, it all sounds crazy, but desperate times call for desperate measures... especially until you get some answers from your doctor. Don't let them write it off as a yeast infection or an allergic reaction!!! I let them do that for so long that after a couple of years I was so defeated by it that I thought I was stuck with it the rest of my life.

Any of the above stuff... probably not a good idea to do it on a long-term basis. It's all a temporary way to relieve the hell. Just becareful!

Quick question thought, aside from the raw and redness, does any of your skin in that area look a little white? Sometimes like a very thin scab, or like when your skin turns a little white after being soaked in water too long?

Sorry for the rant! Hope you get the results soon... good luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
thanks for reply,
yeh, to your question.  Not sure about whiteness, but definately scabs!! Its awful!!  Every time it starts to heal, it all scabs over making the skin even thicker, and tighter.  I dont like my partner anywhere near me anymore, as  i feel disgusting.  even after a bath, or shower, i still dont feel clean down there.
I have tried several different OTC creams also, and know what your saying about the BURN!! lol.  How bad is it, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh. lol.  But it shows the pain we r in to go to these lengths eh!
And please dont apologise for ranting, you are keeping me sane through this, lol.  I am pleased, in a funny way, that some1 can finally understand me.  No one close to me has gone through this, so cant understand, or even try to begin to.

Thanks so much, keep ranting!!!!! lol
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489718_tn?1278861640
I hope your holidays went well! You must have gotten your test and results back by now, any news from your doctor's office? Any good news? I hope you feel better!
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Avatar_n_tn
I am having the same problem and I have went to my Dr. and she gave me pill for vaginal infection which helped the itching stop for a short time but has always came back. So I guess what I'm getting to is I'm asking that if you stop scratching the does it go away, is that what your saying?
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Avatar_n_tn
I've been having itching and severe dryness. For the itching, i dab vinegar (using a cotton swab). It hurts esp. if it touches areas that are sore or has cuts. But eventually, it does relieve it and the itch will be gone- totally. I used to use all kinds of anti itch creams. Never helped.
So, every once in a while, i dab vinegar for cleansing and to deter any more occurrence of the itching. Works miraculously!!!
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Avatar_f_tn
I have exactly what you have..had... I have calloused skin and im on the cortisone but im 2 weeks in and want to tear my skin off how long did it take til it gave you relief? Is all the itching gone? Im so anxious ive been miserable for 9 months... I hope this is almost done...
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Avatar_f_tn
I suffered nearly a year with itchy labia mons, vagina and surrounding area. I had scratched myself too much and ended with painful skin tears.  I wanted everything surgically removed (I'm not serious, but felt desperate enough sometimes)!

I had no yeast or bacterial infection, yet because I am incontinent, I think the condition did surface. Well, I finally gave up with the internist and the Nurse Practitioner and went to a gyn doctor. She prescribed Clobetasol Propionate ointment USP, 0.05% (for external use only). Just rub it all over the area twice a day. It took a week for me to be thankful and after 2 weeks, I'm symptom-free.  

The gyn said it is a condition that does not go away, but can be controlled. Right now....I'm happy.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Ladies, i've just had to diagnose myself and wanted to share my story - i'll be posting this on as many popular boards as I can find, since these types of boards/forums always help me tremendously.  The strange burning, itching irritation started about 4 months ago, I ignored it assuming it would pass on it's own since I had been tested recently and knew it wasn't an STD and I wasn't sleeping with anyone during that period.  The duration and intensity of burning gradually got worse and I started to scratch - only very recently when it became really tough to bear and terrible at night, did I start trying to figure out what was going on.  I figured it out and within 7 days, the symptoms have gone and the skin is visibly healing.  Here's what I recommend:

1) get a mirror and small reading light immediately, become familiar with your vulva (how many of us would not be able to be able to pick our vulvas and clitoris out of a line up?? these are Our private parts, we need to Own them and Know them), we need to own our bodies to be able to take care of them

2) think back on any life changes that coincide with the onset, try to remember what symptoms you've had or haven't had

3) pay close attention to the edges of your irritation, what does it look like? defined white line, raised red merging into normal skin? the edges can tell you alot about the infection

4) armed with your vulva image and symptoms - do some research yourself! even before you head to your doctor so that you can be an informed patient (remember, no one knows our bodies better than we do / or should)

5) there are so many reliable sites that list symptoms and images.  For me - I had no white bumps, or bumps at all, no discharge, no thickened leathery skin,  no odor, no burning when urinating, no oozing from the skin.  These symptoms, and doing a google image search allowed me to rule out a yeast infection, UTI, lichen sclerosus, lichen planar, lichen simplex, psoriasis because the symptoms and progression did not match.

What I Did have was pink irritated skin that looked broken, the skin was bright and shiny, and this shiny irritated skin made a nice oval from the top of my vulva, down the sides/crease of my leg, and down around my anus.  I looked in the mirror closely and also noticed 3 small round patches down near my perineum on the right side.  I remembered my vulva from 2 months ago - there was no distinct skin patch like this and the vulva wasn't so pink.  So it had gotten worse/spread.

What else had I done over the past 2 months? Scratch the area unintentionally like crazy.  I know how my skin responds to bruising so I decided that half of what I was seeing after 4 months was due to My irritating my skin, and it rubbing on panty liners.  Also, I had been eating badly so the area had been quite moist over the past 2 months (discharge whenever I eat white flour - basically increased yeast).  So scratching the wet, tender area May have broken the skin and made it as shiny and tender as it was now - but there was still an underlying cause for the initial irritation right?

Before heading a doctor for a skin biopsy, I decided to stop and think.  I have had similar bad experiences to yours with even the best rated doctors in my area - they don't actually pay attention to our particular case history, and often we don't pay enough attention to tell them.  We also don't speak up enough to ask questions about symptoms and side effects of drugs, and when we do speak up they make us feel that we are being annoying, too demanding and disrespectful.  I knew that I would go to at least 3 doctor visits, because I would be prescribed whatever the popular cream of the month was, which may or may not work, and may make it worse due to the side effects.  Like Clobetasol which is prescribed for lichen sclerosus actually makes your skin thinner over time :s.

So realizing that doctors are just people who guestimate a lot of the time (we've all been there ladies, they really aren't the gods displayed on television) I did my at home research first and matched my symptoms as best as I could, then looked for the least toxic (in my opinion) cures, and decided to try them for just 3 days to see.  If there was no difference, or it worsened then I would head to a doctor armed with allllll of my information, to help them rule out what didn't make sense, have a skin biopsy (just to be sure - it's better than them just eye balling it, if the disease isn't obvious), and start a sensible treatment program.

I was lucky that my symptoms were not ridiculous, but I did self diagnose myself with something super odd based on the edges of the oval, appearance of the 3 small bumps and lack of other symptoms - Female Jock Itch!!!

I looked over all of these boards for solutions that people have used on themselves and kids - I bought Betadine, a pack of walmart brand monistat 7 for the cream, and tea tree oil.  I had to be super careful applying in this sensitive area, I washed with diluted apple cider vinegar, dried off well, applied the betadine to my skin, let that dry, then put the monistat cream over it.  That very first night I didn't itch once and the next morning after I washed with the vinegar, the skin was less shiny, starting to "dry" out to start the healing process (it had gotten very thin from me scratching it when it was moist), the edges were visibly less raised and the 3 small bumps were drying out.  That same morning, I applied tea tree oil - which does burn and feel like your privates are eating a peppermint, but it wasn't bad enough for me to go wash it off.  A few hours later I repeated the Betadine and monistat fungal cream - and kept rotating like this for 1 week.

For those of you who have to deal with this at work, pack your travel kits and hand held mirror in ziploc bags, with wet wipes and bring them with you into the bathroom stall.  Wear boyshort-type cotton underwear to not irritate your skin, or groin creases.  If you do have a discharge, change your liner often.  Get a dollar store pack so you can change them every hour to keep dry if need be - your vulva is worth it.  

I just wanted to stress how important it is that we immediately A) get a mirror and have a look now! and do this every few weeks - sick or not and B) arm ourselves with as much info as we possibly can, because these doctors really are playing a guessing game with our bodies and their prescription chemicals a lot of the time.  Obviously if your case is alarmingly severe then don't wait 3 days to try at home treatments, but if we pay closer attention to ourselves (diet, changes, habits) then we should be able to catch most of these issues before they get horrible.  Good luck ladies! :)
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Cat
I have had these same problems for the last few years. I had a hysterectomy 2 1/2 yrs ago. My doctor warned me to NEVER use Vagisil or related products because they contain alcohol which causes the burn and makes the symptoms worse. I also have diabetes and this has been a contributing factor to my problems, which include yeast and bacterial infections.This is something to check up on. My  doctor finally prescribed Aquaphor, NYSTATIN/TRIAMCINOLONE CREAM 30GM , and MUPIROCIN 2% OINTMENT 22GM. She prescribed a pea size of each mixed together and applied to infected area. This has been an amazing solution to the infected area. I suggest talking to your doctor about these medications (if they will work for you) and the possibility of another health concern such as diabetes.
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