1:19 pm - 07/19/2008

pubic itch

So I've had this problem for quite some time, but I finally got sick enough of if to post and see if anyone has any ideas.  I checked the memories, but nothing was quite right.

My pubic hair area is really itchy.  Like REALLY itchy.  Almost all of the time.  This has been going on for a little over a year; it started well before I had sexual contact with anyone, so I'm absolutely positive it's not an STD.  It's only where my pubic hair grows, too -- all over my mound, some on my outer labia, and at the tops of my thighs.  I use a little hydrocortisone cream, which helps a little, but I'm reluctant to use much because overuse of hc can make itching worse, and I'm on HBC, which increases the effects of hc.  Basically I only use the cream when the itching is unbearable.

I used to shave occasionally, and did a few times after this condition appeared.  I've since stopped, since my gyno said it could have been a trigger.

It is sometimes unbearably itchy, and I can't help but scratch, especially at night or when I've been sweating.  The skin is sort of sensitive in some places, and in others it's kinda bumpy (and I also sometimes get zits, so I know the difference).  Sometimes after I scratch it badly it oozes a little clear fluid, which then crusts over and gets itchy again!  I also frequently scratch until it bleeds, and then the scabs itch.  It's a horrible, horrible cycle that I haven't been able to break.

As far as everything else down there, it's totally normal.  I've never had a yeastie, UTI, or STD, and all my discharge and everything is normal.  The only problem is horrible itching anywhere the hair grows.

As I said, I'm 100% certain it's not communicable (got it before I had any exposure, and my boyfriend has been in contact with the area for months and has absolutely no symptoms).  It also sort of has phases (better, ok, worse), unrelated to my menstruation.  My gyno thought maybe it was just irritated follicles, and to try to leave it alone and wash with antibacterial soap, then rinse thorougly.  This helps in the short run, but not the long.  I've also started sleeping (bottom half) naked, which keeps it dry and helps some.  It's not an allergy, because I was using the same hypoallergenic laundry soap for years before it started.

I've looked up pictures of eczema, and it looks very similar and the onset seems kinda maybe right -- sudden unexplained itchy spots, helped by creams but not cured.  Could this be it?  Anyone else have a similar problem?  It's embarrassing and uncomfortable and I'd appreciate any help or commiseration you all could give.

**edited to be gender non-specific ;)

**Edited 7/26/08**
Thanks so much for all the comments!  I switched to using antibacterial Cetaphil (since I still have some small lesions from scratching, and I want to prevent acne), which is SLS-free, and will soon be switching to an SLS-free shampoo also.   I have also been using sensitive-skin lotion and occasionally the kind with menthol, and it's wonderful!  I'm so close to breaking the itch cycle and my pubes have never been happier (well, since this started ;) ).

I love all of you, VP-ers!
moonbunni 19th-Jul-2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
Well, if your gyno can't figure out what it is, I'd see a dermatologist.

As far as eczema.... Oatmeal is commonly used in eczema treatment, like most over the counter stuff, and since you can put it in your baths (I used to have to as a kid for eczema) you could try submerging yourself in that. I don't know how safe any of the other treatments are to use in the vaginal region. ^^;
moonbunni 19th-Jul-2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
Er, try submerging yourself in an oatmeal bath, not submerging yourself in oatmeal... Although you could try that as well I suppose. o_o
ladymac111 19th-Jul-2008 08:28 pm (UTC)
This is a good idea, but I live in a dorm and the bathtub is the sketchiest thing EVER. I do have some lotion with oatmeal in it that I use on my hands and elbows in winter, I'll see how that works.

ascetique hope this helps!19th-Jul-2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
i went through exactly the same thing--itching, irritation, etc. it drove me insane. i thought i'd contracted something--well, really, i didn't know what to think. turns out that i've got eczema, and the eczema likes to target that place at times.

my mom has eczema too (way worse than me, poor her) and she says that lotion is all that keeps her sane. so i stocked up on some nice lotions that she recommended: lubriderm sensitive skin therapy moisturizing lotion (for sensitive dry skin) for everyday usage and when it's a little worse than normal, and aveeno skin relief moisturizing lotion with cooling menthol--now, this stuff is what i use when it's driving me up the wall, because it has menthol in it and it basically soothes on contact and has a nice cool feel to it. just moisturize with this stuff every day and put some on when it's being particularly bothersome--that has helped me considerably.

some other things i have done to manage the problem are stop putting a shaving implement anywhere near that area (instead i just trim neatly, this is helpful to the problem also) and do not use soap at all--you should be able to get yourself clean without water, and it might be just me, but antibacterial soap sounds like it'd be really harsh. soaps generally have things in them that cause the soap to lather and foam, and i've found in extensive research that the chemicals that make it lather and foam--you guessed it--are skin irritants, especially to people with eczema. the same thing with shampoos, even shampoos that are medicated for flaking scalps and stuff--they still have major skin irritants. not sure if you have this problem anywhere else besides the special parts, but if so, you might want to check your shampoo bottles, etc., for ingredients that have "laureth/laurel sulfate" in the name.

good luck!
ladymac111 Re: hope this helps!19th-Jul-2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
I think you are my new favorite person :) I am FOR SURE trying out the lotions you recommend, and menthol sounds like just the ticket.

I was wary about the AB soap, but since a gyno suggested it, I figured it was worth a try. The kind I have is the "gentle" formula, but I'm going to be on the lookout for laureth/laurel sulfate in the future. It hasn't made anything worse, at any rate.
ascetique Re: hope this helps!19th-Jul-2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
haha, 's okay, you're my new favorite too!

my problem is all over and gets so bad sometimes that i carry either the lubriderm or aveeno OR BOTH in my purse with me. :)

i was using my extra special eczema-treating shampoo just a while ago, and looked at the ingredients list... was not in the least surprised that it listed "ammonium laureth sulfate" AND "ammonium laurel sulfate" in the ingredients. there's another kind of laureth/laurel sulfate (maybe sodium?) that is a foaming agent and a skin irritant. it is things like this--dermatitis shampoo with skin irritant as ingredient?!--that makes me the biggest conspiracy theorist evarrr. there are definitely products out there, though, that don't have these things in them. a google search or two will come up with a happy list. *wanders off to google...*
ladymac111 Re: hope this helps!19th-Jul-2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
I was actually just reading the Wikipedia article on eczema, and they specifically mentioned sodium laurel sulfate as being a potential trigger. As soon as I get home I'm going to go through my shower and see what's in there!
ascetique Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 03:58 am (UTC)
sounds like a plan! sulfates are insidious. hope my remedies help! :)
quillty Re: hope this helps!19th-Jul-2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
I just remembered that when I was a kid, I would get eczema around my vagina, and I used Desitin to calm the itching. It's a diaper rash ointment (!).
quillty Re: hope this helps!19th-Jul-2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
The lotion I use for eczema is Cetaphil-- it's non allergenic, non perfumed, etc, etc. There are also non-brand name versions in some drug stores that are cheaper.

I second the idea of going to a dermatologist, because they'll be able to tell you if it really is eczema, and will also be able to prescribe ointments that help you heal faster, as well as soothe the itching. I generally use lots of lotion between outbreaks, and then when it's particularly bad I go to the ointments for a week or so. I have it on my hands, but I'm sure they could prescribe something appropriate for you.
stumbling_in Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Just putting this out there! Lush (link) has a whole bunch of shampoos that are SLS free! =) A little pricey, but they last forever (no joke) and well worth the money, imo. They also sell lotions and list all ingredients on their website if you're interested. =)
ladymac111 Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 02:17 am (UTC)
I'm in the middle of checking out their website, and WOW! I might order a bar of shampoo tonight even -- I looked in my shower caddy and everything except my acne wash has SLS :(
stumbling_in Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 02:39 am (UTC)
They say to buy a shampoo tin to keep the soap in so it doesn't get all mushy, but I just bought a soap holder for traveling for about $3 that works just as well. You could do either that or just remember to take the little bar out of the shower to let it harden some. Of course if you don't like the scent you could always purposefully let it get all soggy, not that I have or anything..

I'm using Seanik at the moment, it has a light scent and I really love it. =) It smells like oranges that happened to be growing on the seashare.
ladymac111 Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 02:48 am (UTC)
I'm really taken by Squeaky Green, especially since I have very oily hair but also need to condition it after I shampoo, since what I've been using is sort of harsh. According to one reviewer, she stopped daily conditioning after she started using it and her hair improved! I'm totally sold on this stuff :) Though Seanik also looked awesome, and I love oranges! choices, choices...
stumbling_in Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 03:09 am (UTC)
Haha, well when Squeaky Green runs out you could always try Seanik. That's what I've done, I first tried Ultimate Shine which I liked but the scent was way too subtle and I like something that smells, then Godiva which was wayway too strong, and now Seanik. I don't know if I should stay with Seanik or try something else! They're all really great and I can honestly say that my hair has never felt lighter, shinier, or as clean. I can immediately tell a difference when I have to use bottled shampoos, it's like I'm inhaling a big ol thing of perfume or something, bleck.

For tattoos it's recommended you get a lotion with absolutely as little fragrance, dye, etc. in it as you can possibly find, which seems to be the same sentimate with eczema. I was recommended this by someone, but I haven't used it myself- Dream Cream.

I'm glad I could spread the gospel of Lush!
lady_borg Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 04:11 am (UTC)
Lush uses parabens which can be just as nasty...
ladymac111 Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
Some of their stuff has parabens, some doesn't (the kind I want doesn't have them). Thanks for the heads-up, though, I'll watch out for it.
lady_borg Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah some stuff is free of the Stuff(YAY) but like all products you have be diligent
sand_woman Re: hope this helps!20th-Jul-2008 09:38 am (UTC)
I love Lush's Dreamwash for the pubic hair area - it's so gentle, I don't think it has SLS in it or anything. I find the lavender in it very soothing.
forgetapril 19th-Jul-2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
A bit of a personal question, but do you trim your pubic hair?
I find when mine is kept short, it's less irritating than when I let it grow out a bit. It's like when it's longer, underpants tug at the hairs, making them uncomfortable (either sore or itchy.)
cfoxrun 19th-Jul-2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
same here, when it is short, no itching, but when it grows, i guess it rubs my undies or something and gets terribly itchy.
ladymac111 19th-Jul-2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
hm, i'll give it a try
pixxidust116 Eczema poster!19th-Jul-2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
Hello there! I actually have eczema all over my body-- boy to I feel you. Just some quick facts: it loves warm, moist places. I've used hydrocortizone for years, and sometimes it just makes the situation worse as it gets sticky and moist.

When I have a break-out all over my body, I generally take a warm Aveeno bath. In addition, you should check your soap and makeup products for for lanolin-- it's a serious trigger. Also, see if cutting out scented items (THIS INCLUDES PADS/TAMPONS) has an effect. Put on a cold compress and see if that helps.

I can't really think of anything else.... I just wish you the best!
ladymac111 Re: Eczema poster!19th-Jul-2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
This definitely sounds like eczema, then! Cold water (such as in the shower) makes it feel a lot better. I stopped using pads and tampons a few months ago, and that has helped in that specific area.

Thanks for your comment :)
photocopyme 19th-Jul-2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
This explains a lot of what I've been suffering! I was pretty concerned that I'd contracted something, too, but lots of research and consulting with a gyno proved that it wasn't something I'd contracted. This is the only thing that makes sense. I too get the little bumps, and the occassional pubic zit, and can also tell the difference.

However, mine always itches way less when I shave the itching area. Sweating makes it worse no matter what, however, I think I've developed an allergy of some kind to my sweat because I itch all over very unbearably when I sweat enough.

I'm definitely going to try the lotions that ascetique suggested to see if it helps me. If not, I shall look into something else.
ladymac111 19th-Jul-2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely trying them, too. Can you say "Hello relief, will you be my friend?"

Back when I shaved it seemed to make it better too, possibly because then moisture wouldn't get trapped as easily.
ladymac111 20th-Jul-2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
Hey, so I tried just using the store-brand sensitive skin moisturizing lotion I have for my hands (which, btw, contains no SLS or lanolin) and it's SO MUCH BETTER -- I've been applying it 3x a day and it barely itches at all. So, yeah, lotion is definitely a good time :)
pygmybugs 19th-Jul-2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Sounds a lot like eczema, which I have in spades. Although, thankfully, not in my nether regions. It seems like, from your description, that you're kind of a sensitive, allergy-prone person (as am I). My eczema got a lot better once I found the right meds to help control my allergies (Singulair and Zyrtec), and did my best to make sure there were the least amount of allergens in my environment (no cats, nothing scented or artificially colored, keep the house clean so mold and dust mites are at a minimum, et cetera). Also, once I took dairy, sulfites and nightshades out of my diet, my allergies and eczema got a lot better, too.

There are a couple of non-steroidal topical creams for eczema, but besides being stupidly expensive, they didn't really do much for me, and were kinda burny and unpleasant. Plus, I dunno if they'd be safe for your pubic area.

Aveeno products seem to do me pretty good. Their sensitive body wash, oatmeal bath and lotions do me well. I second the laureth/lauryl sulfate thing. It's damned hard to find personal care products without them in there, but the less I use, the better my skin feels. Even your shampoo suds can trickle down while you're rinsing and irritate eczema breakout areas. (For example, if I haven't taken my allergy meds, you can see bright red trails all over my body where shampoo suds run. Even if I rinse very well.)
ladymac111 19th-Jul-2008 08:18 pm (UTC)
ah, allergies .. I have seasonal and animal allergies, and I'm sensitive to nickel (e.g. stainless steel earrings). I'll try taking my Claritin regularly and see if that helps it -- usually I only take it if I'm having trouble breathing. Also I might see if benadryl helps, though it makes me sleepy so it's not a good general-use thing.. maybe at night.
pygmybugs 19th-Jul-2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
I've found the Zyrtec to be way better for skin itchies. It's related to Vistaril, which they always used to give me for my hives. It's OTC and most drugstores have a generic. Not too 'spensive.

I dunno if you have an allergist (but if you have a dermatologist, I'm gonna guess you at least have insurance), but if you can get a referral, try getting a full set of scratch tests. They really, REALLY suck, but having a handy list of allergic triggers to stay away from is super handy. Nobody seems to know much about eczema, other than it's some kind of screwed up immune/allergic response, and allergies, asthma, eczema (all of which plague me) all get a lot better if you stay away from your allergens as much as possible.
moonbunni 20th-Jul-2008 04:19 am (UTC)
Zyrtec is actually considered to be a lot better, at least by my allergists, due to the fact it stays in the system longer. Vistaril/Atarax is love. :) Other OTC options are... Pepcid/Famotodine, Tagamet, Zantac. I know for sure Pepcid helps with my outbreaks.

I don't know if it'd be safe to do it in the vaginal area, but we used to bust open Benadryl gel caps to help with allergic reactions. I'm allegic to it now so I can't do it anymore. XD
ladymac111 20th-Jul-2008 01:06 pm (UTC)
I think I'll try the Zyrtec .. do you know what the active ingredient is? It'll make shopping easier.
moonbunni 20th-Jul-2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
Cetirizine HCI. :) Walgreens has a VERY good price on the generic. You might want to first try taking it at night, because it causes some people to be drowsy (or just zombie like, like my cousin). 1 pill lasts 24 hours though! You could also (if it's too strong) cut it in half, take part in the morning, part in the evening, I've had to do that with some meds. :)
ladymac111 20th-Jul-2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
excellent! I'm heading to walgreens soon to refill my BC and also get some soap that doesn't have nasty chemicals in it, so I'll pick some up when I'm there. Maybe it'll help with my cat allergy, too...
moonbunni 20th-Jul-2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
It helps keep me alive and kickin', it depends on how severe the cat allergy is and your body though. :) AWESOME Voyager icon XD
righteousbean 19th-Jul-2008 08:28 pm (UTC)
If you've ruled out everything else, it may be eczema. When I was younger I used to get it on the inside on my wrists and the creases of the inside of my elbows, same with knees. It likes moist and warms spots. I feel for you, maybe you could see a dermatologist, but speak to your gyno again about it and see if maybe she can prescribe something?
ladymac111 19th-Jul-2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
I actually do have a dermatologist, because I have some suspicious moles. Next time I go in to see him maybe I'll have him take a little look -- it's on my upper legs too so I wouldn't have to show him all of my stuff XD
righteousbean 19th-Jul-2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
well, there you go.
lil_tree_frog 19th-Jul-2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
i used to get the same thing, i have very sensitive skin...

to treat, i use an electric hair trimmer (like for beards), and keep it all trimmed at about 1/2 inch and i wash twice daily with a gentle soap, goats milk, or something like that... i'm a redhead, so the my skin and i do battle constantly

usually dryness or i'm a little sweaty and break out, it sucks, but i manage
frolicnaked 20th-Jul-2008 02:39 am (UTC)
I'm glad folks have been able to answer your questions. I know not so much about eczema, as all of my pubic itchies have turned out to be either YIs or allergic reactions (thank you latex condoms and Tide laundry detergent). Since it doesn't sound like it's among the most usual of culprits, seeing a dermatologist about your situation might be the best way to go.

But just as a thought on your last line -- There are definitely more than "ladies" in VP, and many people who don't identify as such could probably still give out good info (and commiseration!) with respect to your questions. :)
ladymac111 20th-Jul-2008 02:59 am (UTC)
ah, thanks -- i debated about that, and have gone back to my first instinct. as usual, it was right ;)
frolicnaked 20th-Jul-2008 03:31 am (UTC)
First instincts often are. ;) Thank you for the edit.
leia149 20th-Jul-2008 03:05 am (UTC)
I wanted to add another soap that may be worth trying. Satin soap, it is found at better piercing shops. It is anti-microbial, so like any soap keep it just to the pubic hair. But it is mostly made for old people with sensitive skin, and has a lot of skin conditioning agents. It smells sort of like old people though.
moonbunni 20th-Jul-2008 04:20 am (UTC)
....You know, I can imagine how funny that would be in bed.

"...Your vagina smells like old people. D: "
ladymac111 26th-Jul-2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
lol :) our friends have nicknamed my boyfriend "old man river" because he's balding at 20 and sometimes acts 40. If he mentions it I'll just say, "yeah, now we match!" XD

btw, I've started using Cetaphil and it's amazing!
lady_borg 20th-Jul-2008 04:16 am (UTC)
I have exzema, not down there but dont use parabens, alcohols and SLS down there at all. And a lot of products have them. Go to a natural store and find something trust me...they work.

Also...a tip I used when I had an unbearable itch is a full wax. Whether you are opposed to it or not it can rid the irritation of the hairs. Shaving is sometimes too rough for certain people and it can irritate things further, jsut remember if you do it take and probitoic or a immune booster just in case.
In fact a probitoic would probs be a good idea. jsut to get rid of any bacteria causing harm.
beekathy 23rd-Jul-2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
does your pubic area has flakes? you know, like dundruff...not that flaky, but has flakes. like dry skin flakes? thats what i have, & it's really itchy. i was wondering if you have them too.
ladymac111 26th-Jul-2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
sometimes it flakes after I've scratched it raw. I don't think I have what you're describing, but I have heard of it before.
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