Give yourself an MOT
It's time to reacquaint yourself with your nether regions. Get hold of a small, hand held mirror and either stand with one foot up on the side of the bath or sit with your legs apart and have a good look at what's down there. Check for discoloration, lumps, bumps, blisters or sores, and anything you think doesn't look right.
How to check your vulva
PLEASE NOTE: This video is from the Channel 4 website and is not associated with the Canesten brand in any way
It might surprise you to know that you can suffer from skin conditions like eczema 'down below' too, and so if you suffer with skin complaints elsewhere on your body, don't be alarmed if you notice them on your vulva too.
If you've noticed any itchiness or irritation it could be that you've got a bit of eczema or psoriasis where you weren't expecting it.
Itching of the vulva is usually nothing to worry about, and the most common causes are harmless infections such as thrush or BV.
In some cases it can be down to more serious conditions though, so if you are at all worried or unsure about the cause of your irritation, see your doctor. In very rare cases persistent itching can be a sign of a pre-cancerous condition of the vulva, and in some cases tingling can be an early symptom of herpes.
Lifestyle changes that can help
If you seem to be plagued with what's delicately referred to as 'intimate irritation' and can't seem to get rid of the problem after you've seen a doctor and ruled everything out, look to your lifestyle for clues.
Are you being a little over enthusiastic with your personal hygiene? You really can have too much of a good thing when it comes to keeping your personal parts clean. Too much washing, especially with perfumed products, can alter the pH in your vagina, and excessive scrubbing can damage the area too.
Have you changed your washing powder or fabric conditioner lately? It could be causing the irritation or if not you might just have developed a sensitivity to the one you've used for ages. Try experimenting with other products – unscented, non-biological and dermatologically tested products might be worth a try.
Staying on the subject of your clothes, tight fitting and synthetic fabrics
are more likely to irritate you than loose clothing and cotton underwear.