An occasional itch anywhere on the body, even your pubic area, is probably nothing to worry about. Itchy pubic hair that persists, however, may be caused by allergies, damage to the hair follicles, or an infection. Find out what could cause your pubic area to itch and how to treat it.
If you’ve recently shaved your pubic area, razor burn may be to blame for your itching. Razor burn appears as a red rash, often with tiny bumps that can feel raw or tender. You can get razor burn if you:
- don’t use enough lubricant, like shaving cream or soap
- shave too fast
- shave too often
- use an old or clogged razor
Pubic lice (crabs)
Pubic lice, also called crabs, are tiny insects found in the genital area. Pubic lice are different than head and body lice, and are most often spread through sexual intercourse. You can also get crabs from sharing clothes, towels, or bedding with someone who has an infestation.
They cause intense itching and may spread to other body parts with coarse hair, such as the legs and armpits.
If you’ve recently used a new product that has come into contact with your genital area, your itching may be caused by contact dermatitis. Soaps, lotions, and other hygiene and skin care products can cause contact dermatitis, which is a skin irritation.
Along with itching, contact dermatitis may also cause:
- dry or flaky skin
Allergic dermatitis occurs when your skin has an allergic reaction to a foreign substance. You can have an allergic reaction to chemicals and perfumes in soaps and skin care products, to latex, and other substances, such as poison ivy or poison oak.
Symptoms may include:
This highly contagious skin condition is caused by a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin and lays eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the mites crawl along the skin making new burrows that leave thin red tracks of tiny red bumps.
They cause intense itching that is usually worse at night and most often affects the skin folds around the genitals, buttocks, breasts, and knees.
Scabies is spread through prolonged, close physical contact with someone who has scabies, including any type of skin to skin sexual and nonsexual contact. It can also be spread in environments like classrooms, daycares, and nursing homes.
Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious autoimmune skin condition that causes thick patches of raised skin that is red with silvery scales. Patches can form anywhere on the body, but they’re usually found on the elbows and knees. The patches can be very itchy and painful, and can crack and bleed.
Though plaque psoriasis is the most common type, inverse psoriasis is the type most likely to affect the genital region, including the pubis. This type is associated with red lesions that appear smooth and shiny in the folds around the genitals and groin.
Tinea cruris (jock itch)
Jock itch is a fungal infection that affects the skin folds in the genital area. It’s more common in men because moisture is easily trapped between the scrotum and thigh, creating the perfect breeding ground for fungi.
Jock itch causes a very itchy rash with a scaly dark pink or reddish border. It can also be very painful.
You’re more likely to get jock itch:
- in warmer weather
- if you wear tight or wet clothing
- if you don’t dry your genital area properly after bathing
- if you are obese
- if you have athlete’s foot or onychomycosis, which is fungal infection of the nails
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. It is characterized by scaly red rashes that can form bumps and leak fluid when scratched. Eczema most often forms in the creases of the elbows or knees, but it can also affect the male and female genitals.
Eczema can be trigged by a number of things, including:
- extremely hot or cold weather
- chemicals and fragrances in soap and other skin products
- dry skin
Candidiasis (yeast infection)
Candidiasis, also referred to as a yeast infection, is caused by an overgrowth of yeast called candida. The candida fungi thrive in warmth and moisture, which is why they commonly affect the skin folds and genital region. Wearing tight clothing, poor hygiene, and not drying properly after bathing increases your risk.
Symptoms can include:
- a red rash that may blister (skin yeast infection)
- painful urination (vaginal or penile yeast infection)
- intense itching
- abnormal discharge
Folliculitis is a common infection of the hair follicle, which is the opening that holds a hair’s root. It can affect one or many follicles and cause tiny, itchy red bumps, sometimes with a white tip.
The pubic area is a common place for folliculitis to occur because of shaving, moisture, and friction from tight clothing or sports equipment, such as a jock strap. Poorly chlorinated hot tubs and whirlpools also increase your risk of a type of folliculitis referred to as “hot tub folliculitis.”
Intertrigo is a rash that typically affects skin folds where your skin rubs together or traps moisture, such as under the fold of the stomach or the groin. It’s caused by a bacteria or fungus and is more common in people who are overweight or have diabetes. The rash may appear reddish brown and have a foul odor.
Extramammary Paget disease
Extramammary Paget disease (EMPD) is a condition that is associated with an underlying cancer. It is characterized by a chronic skin rash around the genital region. It can affect men and women, but most often occurs in women ages 50 to 60, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Symptoms may include:
- mild to intense itching around the genital or anal area
- chronic thick, red, scaly rash
- pain or bleeding after scratching
If your itchy pubic hair is caused by a minor irritation, it should clear up within a few days of treatment at-home. The following are some home remedies that may help.
Wear clean underwear
Moisture and bacteria can cause irritation and infections. Wear clean underwear every day, changing after periods of excessive sweating. Avoid wearing underwear that is too tight and wear soft, natural materials to reduce friction and sweating, which could damage hair follicles.
Scratching increases your risk of cuts, bleeding, and infection. If your itchy pubic area is caused by a fungal infection, you risk spreading the infection to other parts of your body by touching it.
Stay away from products containing perfumes, dyes, and other chemicals that may be irritating your pubic area or causing an allergic reaction. Removing certain products from your routine may help you narrow down the cause of your itching.
Practice proper shaving
If you shave your pubic hair, use the following tips to avoid itching and irritation:
- Use sharp scissors to trim long hairs before shaving.
- Always use a new razor.
- Soak the area in warm water to soften the hair.
- Apply a generous amount of unscented shaving cream, gel, or soap.
- Shave in the direction of the hair growth.
- Rinse the razor often during your shave to prevent clogging.
- Pat the skin dry — do not rub.
Keep the area dry
Bacteria and fungus thrive in moist conditions. Dry your skin well after bathing and apply deodorant or powder to skin folds if you’re overweight or prone to sweating. Avoid spending time in wet clothing, such as bathing suits or sweaty workout clothes.
Over-the-counter (OTC) hydrocortisone creams can be used treat minor irritation and itching. Apply as directed. Do not use if you have open sores, bleeding, or signs of infection.
OTC lice treatment
OTC shampoos and lotions can be used to treat pubic lice.
Taking an antihistamine may help relieve itching, especially if it’s caused by an allergic reaction.
A doctor may recommend medical treatment depending on the cause of your itching.
Prescription lice treatment
Your doctor may prescribe a lice treatment to treat pubic lice if OTC lice treatments don’t kill the lice. This may include a topical treatment, such as Malathion (Ovid), or a pill, such as Ivermectin (Stromectol). Ivermectin is also used to treat scabies.
If your itchy pubic hair is caused by a fungal infection, such as jock itch, candidiasis, or intertrigo, you may be prescribed a topical or oral antifungal medication to kill the fungus causing your symptoms.
Severe cases of folliculitis and other skin infections may need to be treated with antibiotics.
See a doctor if your pubic area continues to itch for more than a few days or if it’s accompanied by symptoms of infection, such as fever and aches and pains. If you suspect you have scabies or any other condition that requires a prescription, make an appointment to see a doctor right away.
Itchy pubic hair can be caused by a number of things. A little patience and home remedies may be enough to relieve your itching if it’s mild and not accompanied by other persistent or worrisome symptoms.