The majority of vaginal itching is not a cause of concern. But, it still pays to talk to your doctor or gynecologist if the itching continues and becomes severe, or if you think it is a symptom of an underlying condition.
Causes of Vaginal Itching
Vaginal itching occurs due to different causes. It is crucial to determine what condition causes it since your treatment option will significantly depend on the disease. Here are some of the potential causes of vaginal itchiness.
• Irritants – if you expose the vagina to certain irritating substances, this can result in vaginal itching. This is because these irritants can activate an allergic reaction, which creates itchy rash in different parts of the body, such as the vagina. The most popular chemical irritants are douches, soap, topical contraceptives, feminine sprays, and bubble baths. If you are diagnosed with urinary incontinence or diabetes, your urine can also trigger vaginal itching and irritation.
• Skin diseases – there are several skin diseases, like psoriasis and eczema, that can cause itching and redness in the vaginal area. Psoriasis is a widespread skin condition that results in the formation of scaly, itchy, and red patches. There are times where outbreaks of these symptoms can spread on the vagina. On the other hand, eczema or atopic dermatitis is known as a rash that mainly affects people who have allergies or asthma. The rash produced by this condition is itchy and reddish with a scaly texture. It can sometimes spread on the vagina of female patients with eczema.
• Bacterial vaginosis – BV occurs due to the imbalance in the naturally occurring harmful and good bacteria in the region of the vagina. Though this condition doesn’t cause symptoms, when it does, vaginal itching is one of them, alongside abnormal discharge with a foul odor. The discharge is usually thin and white or dull gray. In other cases, it is foamy.
• Yeast infection – the vagina has a naturally occurring fungus called yeast. It usually doesn’t cause problems. However, if the growth becomes abnormal, it can lead to uncomfortable or painful infection – commonly known as a vaginal yeast infection. The virus typically takes place right after taking a series of antibiotics since these kinds of medications can kill good bacteria together with the harmful bacteria. It is essential to know that good bacteria are crucial to maintain healthy yeast growth. Overgrowth of the yeast can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as burning, itching, and lumpy discharge.
• Sexually transmitted disease – there are a lot of STDs that can be passed on during unprotected sexual activity and can result in vaginal itching, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, genital warts, and genital herpes. These diseases can also trigger other symptoms, such as yellow or green vaginal discharge, abnormal growths, and pain during urination.
• Menopause – women who are on their menopausal stage or have already done, have a higher risk of suffering from vaginal itching. The reason behind this lies in the reduction of the levels of estrogen that happens during menopause, which causes vaginal atrophy – the thinning of the mucosa that leads to extreme dryness. This symptom can cause irritation and itching if left untreated.
• Vulvar cancer – vaginal itching can be a symptom of vulvar cancer. This kind of cancer occurs in the vulva, which is the outer part of the vagina. It includes the outer and inner lips of the female’s genitals, the opening of the vagina, and the clitoris. Though vulva cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms, when they appear, they might include pain in the areas of vulvar, abnormal bleeding, and vaginal itching.
• Stress – in rare cases, emotional and physical stress can lead to vaginal irritation and itching. These conditions could happen when fear debilitates the immune system, increasing the risk of infections that can result in vaginal itching.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When you consult your doctor, they will ask a series of questions regarding your symptoms, including the severity and how long have you experienced them. They might also ask for information about your sexual activities. After that, they might carry out a pelvic examination. In the examination, your doctor will take a look at the vulva visually and might utilize a speculum to get a clear view of the inside of the vagina. Doing this will help them determine any abnormalities in the reproductive organs. Other than this, the doctor might get a sample of the discharge or skin tissue from the vulva for analysis. They might also run urine and blood tests.
After your doctor determines the primary cause of vaginal itching, treatment options will be recommended. The appropriate course of treatment will depend on the condition that’s triggering the problem. Here are possible treatments for each condition:
• BV – doctors usually cure BV using antibiotics. They might come in a pill form that you can orally take or creams that you can put in your vagina. No matter what treatment you utilize, it is essential to follow the instruction of your doctor and complete the entire round of meds.
• Vaginal yeast infection – antifungal medications are used to treat vaginal yeast infections. These are available in different forms, such as pills, ointments, or creams. They can be purchased over the counter or by prescription. In case your doctor doesn’t say that you have a yeast infection, see to it that you speak to your doctor first before consuming any over-the-counter drug.
• STDs – there are many treatment options for STDs, including antiparasitics, antivirals, and antibiotics. Your doctor will advise you to take your meds daily and stay away from participating in any sexual activity until your disease or infection is treated.
• Menopause – if your vaginal itching is due to menopause, you can use tablets, estrogen cream, or vaginal ring insert to soothe the itching.
• Other causes – other kinds of vaginal irritation and itching heal on their own after some time. However, if you want to ease the discomfort and decrease the inflammation, you can opt for steroid lotions or creams and apply it to the affected vaginal region. Always remember that you need to control the amount you utilize since using too much can also result in severe itching and irritation.
What are the normal conditions?
A healthy and normal vagina is not itchy. Take note that itching can be a symptom of thrush or other types of infection. However, it can also have different causes. It is also normal for women to have a vaginal discharge. However, the amount and texture might vary throughout the menstrual cycle. If you notice that your vaginal discharge gets weird, for instance, you see changes with the color or odor. This could be a symptom of infection. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist right away to determine the primary problem with your genital area.
To have a healthy vagina and combat vaginal itching, here are several tips that you can follow:
• Right after having a bowel movement, always wipe from the front to back.
• Avoid scented pads, douches, toilet paper, bubble bath, feminine sprays, and creams.
• Avoid douching since it can lead to an imbalance in the vaginal area.
• Use water and unscented soap to clean your outer genital area regularly. However, don’t wash it more than once a day since it can result in dryness.
• Use condoms during sex to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
• Don’t scratch affected the vaginal area. It will only irritate the skin and increase itchiness.
• Use vaginal moisturizer if you are suffering from vaginal dryness.
Risk of having Vaginal Itching
Some factors can increase one’s risk of suffering from vaginal itching, including:
• Unprotected sexual activity
• Hormonal changes, including those that are taken during pregnancy, menopause, or birth control pills.
• Utilizing an intrauterine device or IUD for birth control.
• Having a sexually transmitted infection or disease
• Uncontrolled diabetes
• Utilizing spermicides for birth control
• Using hygiene products like vaginal sprays, bubble bath, or vaginal deodorant.
• Medications, including steroids and antibiotics
• Wearing tight-fitting or damp clothing
When to seek medical attention
It is essential to consult your doctor if you are experiencing vaginal itching, and if the itching becomes too severe that it disrupts your ability to perform daily activities. Even if the majority of the causes are not severe, there are still available treatment options to soothe and decrease the discomfort brought by vaginal itching.
Moreover, you need to call your doctor or gynecologist right away in case the vaginal itching continues for more than a week or if the itching you experience occurs together with these symptoms:
• difficulty urinating
• blisters or ulcers on the vulva
• discomfort during sex
• tenderness or pain in the vaginal region
• abnormal vaginal discharge
• swelling or redness of the vagina
Table of Medications
- acetic acid
- Cleocin Vaginal