Sexual Health: Genital Itching

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What causes genital itching?
Genital itching can be a symptom of many conditions. These conditions may include vaginal infections in females or jock itch in males. In either sex, itching can be caused by skin irritation, sexually transmitted diseases, and allergies.

In many cases, genital itching that is caused by irritation will clear up on its own if the irritation is removed. Other causes of itching may require more intensive treatment. If you are concerned about genital itching that does not go away, talk to your doctor or another health care professional.

How can genital itching be avoided?
Females should take the following steps to help avoid genital itching:

  • After urination or bowel movements, wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from the anus entering the vagina.

  • Avoid chemical products such as vaginal douches or feminine hygiene sprays, which can upset the acidic balance of the vagina.

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Males should take the following steps to help avoid genital itching:

  • Wash the penis well, including the area under the foreskin in uncircumcised men.

Both males and females should take the following steps to help avoid genital itching:

  • Keep the genital area clean and dry. Use mild soap and rinse well.

  • Wear loose, natural-fiber underwear and clothing. Change underwear at least every 24 hours.

  • Dry off thoroughly after bathing and swimming. Avoid staying in wet clothing for long periods of time.

  • Avoid unprotected sex, especially if you are worried that you or your partner might have an infection.

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