Dry, flaky skin in the female pubic area occurs for several reasons, including allergic reactions, skin conditions, vaginal infections, or something as simple as wearing tight clothing. To ensure you receive the correct treatment for dry, flaky skin in this area of the body, it is important to determine the root cause first.
In this article, we’ll outline the most common causes, symptoms and treatment options for dry, flaky, or itchy skin in the female pubic area, as well as some natural remedies to help alleviate it.
What Causes Dry, Flaky Skin in The female Pubic Area?
A variety of medical conditions or lifestyle factors can be the cause of dry or peeling skin in the female genital area, with each presenting varying additional symptoms that can provide clues as to the source of the problem.
Read on for a run-down on the most common causes of itchy, dry, scaly, or peeling skin in the female pubic area.
Because the pubic area is mainly covered up, often beneath underwear and tight clothing, it is more likely to experience sweating, humidity, and friction, which makes the genital skin more prone to irritation.
Jeans that are too tight around the crotch, damp workout leggings left on after the gym, or sitting around for too long in wet swimwear can all contribute to skin irritation around the pubic area. Urine and feces can also be responsible for irritating the skin when women suffer from incontinence or weak bladders.
Products that are known to irritate the skin around the pubic area include baby wipes used for incontinence, scented soaps, shower gels or bubble baths, talcum powder, hemorrhoid creams, and vaginal deodorants.
The good news about dry flaky skin due to irritants is that additional symptoms are minimal and usually limited to itching and/or inflammation. So once the culprit has been identified and avoided, the dry and itchy skin problem will usually disappear.
Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune condition that can result in dry skin patches and scaly skin on any part of the body, with as many as 63% of adults suffering from psoriatic flares in the pubic area. According to statistics released by the National Psoriasis Foundation, two specific types of psoriasis are known to affect the vulva, namely inverse psoriasis and plaque psoriasis.
Flaky patches of skin that develop scales on top, inflammation, and itching are the most common symptoms associated with psoriasis in the genital area. Skin patches appear as a red or pink color on white or brown skin with white scaly patches, whereas skin patches on black or sometimes brown skin can appear as purple with grey scaly patches.
For psoriasis treatment, healthcare practitioners typically prescribe moisturizing creams and lotions to ease the itching and reduce inflammation, but in severe cases, they will also recommend medication.
Dermatitis or Eczema
Dermatitis is a form of eczema and is described as an inflammatory skin condition that affects any part of the body or face. It is often triggered by an allergic reaction to a substance that has come in contact with the skin. Within a few days of contact with the allergen, an itchy and uncomfortable rash typically appears that when scratched too much can open into small sores and ooze fluid.
Specific substances that are known to cause contact dermatitis in the female pubic area are vaginal douches, detergents, underwear made from synthetic materials, scented sanitary pads or tampons, hair removal products, latex, vaginal piercings, lubricants, and flavored condoms.
Doctors will usually advise pinpointing the allergen through a process of elimination and avoiding it thereafter. They will also recommend using warm water and unscented soap to gently clean the area, and steroid creams to treat the rash.
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that commonly causes white shiny patches of wrinkly skin around the vulva and anus in women, as well as intense itching. While it is more inclined to occur in women of postmenopausal age, lichen sclerosus can also occur in pre-teens who have not yet menstruated.
When the vulvar and anal skin is affected by lichen sclerosus, it thins and becomes more prone to tiny tears, peeling, and blister-like sores. Additional symptoms include a tightening of the skin around the genitals, discomfort during urination and defecation, and pain during sex.
While lichen sclerosus is chronic, meaning it does not have a cure, it is not considered contagious, nor can your partner catch it during sex. For treatment, doctors typically prescribe medication and steroid creams to regulate symptoms.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Contracted by having unprotected sex with an infected partner, STIs that result in dry, flaky skin around the genitals include herpes simplex virus (HSV), genital warts, trichomoniasis, pubic lice, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV.
Although many people experience no symptoms when they have an STI, additional symptoms include sores around the genitals and anus, a burning sensation when peeing, spotting between periods, unusual vaginal discharge, foul vaginal odors, and pain during sex.
Left untreated, STIs can cause severe damage to other parts of the body including the kidneys and brain. If you can relate to any of the above symptoms, or you want to rule out an STI, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor. Treatment for STIs differs depending on the type, so ensuring you receive the right treatment involves having your feminine pH levels, blood, and urine tested.
Doctors will usually prescribe an antibacterial or antiviral medication, depending on the type of STI diagnosed.
Itchy and flaky skin is one of the more common symptoms of vaginal infections, collectively known under the umbrella term of vaginitis. The most prevalent vaginal infections in females are bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, and a sexually transmitted infection called trichomoniasis.
In addition to dry, flaky, and itchy skin, symptoms of vaginal infections can include an unusually colored vaginal discharge (gray, yellow, or green), a white lumpy discharge resembling cottage cheese, lower back or pelvic pain, an unpleasant vaginal odor, a burning sensation during urination, and pain during sex.
If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms it is important to consult with a doctor for diagnosis and the proper treatments. Most vaginal infections require antibiotics and if left untreated they can cause problems with the reproductive organs and result in infertility.
Dry Flaky Genital Skin Symptoms
All skin, including the skin around the pubic area, needs hydration and natural oils made by the body to stay soft, elastic, and agile. When the skin around the pubic area becomes dry, additional symptoms can arise depending on the root cause of the problem.
These additional symptoms can include intense itching, stinging, scaly skin, unusual vaginal discharge, flaky or peeling skin, red or white skin patches, a bumpy rash, skin tears, and unpleasant vaginal odors.
Are Some Women More Susceptible To Dry Skin Than Others?
Yes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, women living in colder climates, those over the age of 40, and women who smoke are more susceptible to dry skin, including around the pubic area. Women diagnosed with thyroid issues, diabetes, kidney disease, or HIV are also considered more at risk of developing dry or flaky genital skin.
Natural Remedies for Dry Itchy Skin in The Pubic Area
Most causes of dry, flaky, or itchy skin around the pubic area will require some form of medical treatment so it is vital to contact your healthcare practitioner for diagnosis and treatment.
That said, several natural remedies and lifestyle changes when used in conjunction with, or after, medical treatment, can help to alleviate symptoms quicker as well as prevent further infections from occurring.
Hydrate & Moisturize
To help heal dry skin and keep it hydrated, drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day and use an all-natural, organic moisturizer like Enchanted Rose Organic Feminine Balm to treat skin dryness, irritation, pH imbalances, and thinning vulvar tissue due to menopause or breastfeeding.
Several recent studies into the benefits of probiotics have revealed that as well as improving gut health, they also help to balance vaginal pH levels and considerably reduce the risk of vaginal infections that cause dry flaky, and itchy skin. Found naturally in yogurt, kombucha, and miso, probiotics are also available in supplement form that can be taken daily, like Flora Bloom Probiotics for Women.
Boric Acid Supplements
Used as a natural remedy by ancient civilizations to treat vaginal infections for centuries, boric acid is now available in vaginal suppository form from Intimate Rose. In addition to soothing the irritation of dry vulvar skin, itching, and swelling, boric acid supplements work on rebalancing the vaginal microflora after yeast infections, and STIs.
Research has also shown that a daily boric acid suppository used in conjunction with antibiotics can treat BV infections and prevent further infections from recurring. However, it is important to note that Boric Acid should never be taken orally or by pregnant women.
Vitamins & Nutrients
Certain vitamins can also help to hydrate dry skin, specifically vitamin D, vitamin A, zinc, a form of vitamin B known as niacin, and iron.
If you are suffering from recurring vaginal infections or repeated bouts of dry flaky skin around the pubic area, you might want to consider making some lifestyle changes to improve your vaginal health.
For example, avoid synthetic underwear and tight clothing and wear cotton underwear and looser garments around the crotch area. Stop douching, using scented self-care products, and fragranced detergents that can irritate the skin, and wash the genitals with warm water and unscented soap instead.
Always gently pat your vulva dry after washing as opposed to rubbing vigorously, and change out of damp workout clothing or swimwear as soon as you are done.
Don’t be embarrassed if you develop dry, flaky, or itchy skin around the genitals. Several common conditions, irritants, infections, and lifestyle factors can be the cause, and each is treatable. Treatment options will vary, depending on the cause, so it is important to consult with your doctor for testing and diagnosis.
However, while many causes require medical treatment there are also natural remedies you can use at home to reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent dry and flaky skin from recurring.
American Academy of Dermatitis – Dry Skin Who Gets it & Causes - https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/dry-skin-causes
National Library of Medicine – Genital Psoriasis - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25824273/
National Eczema Society - Female Genital Eczema - https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/types-of-eczema/female-genital-eczema/
Cleveland Clinic – Lichen Sclerosus - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16564-lichen-sclerosus
Medical News Today - STDs That Cause Itching - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/stds-that-cause-itching
Mayo Clinic - Vaginitis, Diagnosis & Treatment - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354713
Medical News Today – What Are Vitamins & How Do They Work - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/195878#the-13-vitamins
My Cleveland Clinic – Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/19641-boric-acid-vaginal-suppository
National Library of Medicine - The Role of Probiotics in Vaginal Health - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9366906/