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Do you know what’s even more irritating than having an itching vagina? Having no idea what could be causing it.
That is not to imply that one shouldn’t be concerned about vaginal itching, though, as it can sometimes be an indication of more serious illnesses such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or even (very rarely) vulvar cancer. This is not to say that vaginal itching is never a cause for concern. The truth of the matter is, however, that itching in the vaginal region is rather common and is typically brought on by factors that are not life-threatening, such as exposure to substances that are irritating or fluctuations in hormone levels.
This is what we mean when we talk about the vagina
It is important to go over some terminology before moving on to discuss the potential causes of a scratchy vagina.
Many people use the word vagina when they actually mean the word vulva. In reality, your vagina is only one component of your vulva; more specifically, it is the inside component. Your labia, clitoris, urethra, and vaginal opening are all examples of parts of your genitalia that are located on the exterior of your body. This is what is referred to as the vulva.
In this post, we will be discussing itching that occurs in either the vagina or the vulva or both of these areas.
What causes itching in the vaginal area
Let’s delve into the myriad of things that could be causing your itchy vagina or vulva, as well as the ways you can find relief from it.
An allergic reaction known as contact dermatitis can be triggered by chemical irritants such as those contained in common goods that come into touch with the vagina and vulva. We’re talking about things like colours, scents, and alcohol here.
Your vulva and vagina may become itchy, red, and painful if an irritant is to blame for the condition.
The following are examples of products that frequently contain such irritants:
products such as bubble baths, shower gels, and soaps
creams, lotions, and ointments douche topical contraceptives such as spermicide and Phexxi douches detergents spermicide and Phexxi
softeners for fabrics
perfumed pads and liners, as well as scented toilet paper
Itching and irritation are two symptoms that can be brought on by incontinence, which is caused by urine.
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Disorders of the skin
Redness and itching in the vaginal region can be symptoms of a number of skin disorders, including eczema and psoriasis, for example.
Eczema, which is sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis, is a rash that most commonly affects individuals who suffer from asthma or allergies. The rash has a scaly appearance, a ruddy colour, and an itching sensation. In certain patients with eczema, the condition may spread to the vulva.
Psoriasis is a common skin ailment that manifests itself as scaly, red patches that are itchy and can appear anywhere on the body, including the scalp and joints. These symptoms may also manifest themselves externally, specifically on the vulva, at times.
Infection caused by yeast
Yeast is a type of fungus that can be found in its natural environment and is typically found in the vagina. A painful infection known as a vaginal yeast infection can develop if its growth is allowed to continue unchecked, despite the fact that it does not typically cause issues on its own.
An overgrowth of yeast in the vagina can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, such as itching, burning, and a thick, yellowish discharge that may or may not smell yeasty, like a freshly baked sourdough loaf. Other symptoms may include vaginal dryness and odour.
It’s possible that the antibiotics you took recently are to blame, as they kill off both beneficial and bad bacteria in the body along with the pathogenic ones. (Just so you know, the presence of healthy bacteria is what keeps yeast in check.)
Yeast infections can also be brought on by factors such as pregnancy, stress, uncontrolled diabetes, and a hormonal imbalance just before a woman gets her period.
Another possible cause of itching in the vaginal region is bacterial vaginosis, sometimes known as BV.
BV, much like a vaginal yeast infection, is caused when there is an imbalance in the vaginal environment between the normally present beneficial and bad bacteria.
Sometimes there are no outward signs of the disease at all. When symptoms do occur, they often include itching in the vaginal area as well as a discharge that is odd and smells fishy. It’s possible that the discharge will be quite thin and a dull grey or white colour. It may also have a frothy appearance.
Vaginal itching can be caused by a number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including the following:
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chlamydia genital warts
diseases such as gonorrhoea, genital herpes, and trichomoniasis
Other symptoms, such as abnormal vaginal discharge, painful urination, and genital sores, may also be brought on by these sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Although they can also be spread through sexual contact, we must also talk about pubic lice (also known as crabs). These annoying tiny insects are most commonly spread through close personal contact; however, they can also be transmitted through shared linens and towels. They induce an itchy sensation in the vaginal region that begins five days after an infestation and is worse at night. You might also get a fever and observe some pale specks that look bluish-white near the bites.
The decrease in oestrogen that occurs during perimenopause and menopause raises the likelihood that a woman will have itching in the vaginal area.
This is due to the fact that lower oestrogen levels lead the tissues of the vulva and vagina to become less elastic, thinner, and drier. Itching and irritation of the vaginal mucosa might be the outcome of vaginal dryness. You might also have pain during sexual activity and bleed after sexual activity.
Stress Itchiness and irritation in the vaginal area can be caused by stress, both physical and emotional.
It is possible that stress is the source of the condition, as a weakened immune system makes a person more susceptible to infections like those that cause itching. Studies conducted on animals have demonstrated that an increase in the stress hormone cortisol that happens when you are under stress can have a negative impact on vaginal health and raise the likelihood of developing vaginal infections.
Itching in the vaginal area is one of the possible symptoms of vulvar cancer. Be aware that vulvar cancer is quite uncommon, and that vaginal irritation is almost always due to something else. The likelihood of this is very high.
Itching in the vaginal area that does not subside or improve may be a symptom of vulvar cancer. It is also possible for it to produce skin changes on parts of the vulva, such as the skin turning a different colour or becoming thicker. Additional possible symptoms include bleeding or discharge that is unrelated to your period as well as lumps. Vulvar cancer may not manifest itself in its early stages in certain patients.
Exams at the gynaecologist once a year can help increase the likelihood of an early diagnosis and a positive outcome.
When to seek medical attention for itching in the vaginal area
If the itching in your vaginal area is strong enough to interfere with your everyday activities or the quality of your sleep, you should consult a medical specialist about it. Even though most of the causes aren’t significant, a healthcare professional may help locate and treat the source of your itching, as well as offer guidance or medication to help you find relief from your symptoms.
You should also consult a medical practitioner if the itching in your vagina lasts for more than a week or if it is accompanied by additional symptoms such as the following:
blisters or sores on the surface of the vulva pain or sensitivity in the vaginal region
discomfort during sexual activity may be caused by genital redness or swelling, difficulty urinating, an unusual vaginal discharge, or other symptoms.
You can search for OB-GYNs in your area using the FindCare function on Healthline, even if you do not currently have a primary care physician.
What to anticipate throughout the course of your appointment
Your care team will ask you questions about your symptoms, such as how severe they are and how long they have been present for. They could also inquire about the sexual activities you participate in.
In addition, just so you are aware, a pelvic exam will most likely be necessary.
During a pelvic exam, a medical expert may visually evaluate your vulva and may use a speculum to look within your vagina to see if there are any abnormalities. They might do this while placing a gloved finger into your vagina while also pressing down on your abdomen. Because of this, they are able to examine the reproductive organs in search of any abnormalities.
They may also take a sample of skin tissue from your vulva or a sample of your discharge for examination. This may be done for both of these reasons. They might also test your blood or urine, but that will depend on the symptoms you’re experiencing.
The provision of medical care for vaginal irritation
Your doctor or another medical practitioner will suggest treatment choices once they have determined the underlying reason for the itching you are experiencing in your vaginal area. The specific method of treatment that must be followed is determined by the individual condition that is the source of the difficulty.
Candida infections of the vaginal tract
Antifungal medicines are typically prescribed to treat vaginal yeast infections. These can be purchased in a variety of formats, such as tablets, lotions, or ointments. You can get them either with a doctor’s prescription or without one (OTC).
If you have never been diagnosed with a yeast infection, it is important to consult a healthcare expert prior to using an over-the-counter remedy for the condition.
Antibiotics are the standard course of treatment for BV. These may come in the form of pills that are swallowed or lotions that are rubbed into the genital area. Even if your symptoms have improved, it is imperative that you finish the whole course of antibiotics that have been prescribed to you, regardless of the type.
Infectious STIs Infectious STIs can be treated with antibiotics, antiviral medications, or antiparasitic medications, depending on the kind of STI.
In addition to taking the medication exactly as directed, your doctor or another healthcare expert may also recommend that you abstain from sexual activity until the infection has completely cleared up.
Itching that is brought on by menopause can be addressed with oestrogen cream, oestrogen tablets, or an oestrogen vaginal ring insert.
Other kinds of vaginal itching and irritation typically go away on their own after a while.
In the interim, you can try reducing inflammation and alleviating discomfort by using steroid creams or lotions to the affected area.
If you notice that your symptoms are getting worse despite following the instructions for using steroid creams, you should immediately stop using the creams and consult a medical practitioner.
Natural treatments available for vaginal itching
You may help prevent vaginal itching and keep your vaginal health in good condition by doing some of the following things:
When you wash this area, make sure you do so with warm water and a mild cleanser.
Avoid using scented products such as lotions, bubble baths, and soaps.
You don’t need to use vaginal sprays or douches because your natural odour is just good.
Immediately after engaging in activities such as swimming or exercising, you should change out of wet or damp clothing.
Cotton is best for undergarments, and you should replace them every day.
When conducting a sexual activity, you should employ barrier tactics.
Get yourself tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and encourage your partners to do the same.
Always wipe from the front to the back in order to prevent bacteria from faeces from entering the vagina and vulva.
Itching in the vaginal region is bothersome, but it is rarely a sign of a serious condition. If you make certain adjustments to your lifestyle, such as avoiding irritants below the belt, your vaginal or vulvar itching should go away on its own most of the time. If you are worried, you shouldn’t be afraid to get in touch with a healthcare expert to get some guidance.