Women health

Why Is My Vagina Itchy? Causes, Treatment and Remedies

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Vaginal itching can be a painful and uncomfortable symptom that occurs often due to irritation. In other cases, the itching can be a sign of an infection, hormonal fluctuation or a sign of menopause. 

Most cases of genital itching and irritation are often not the major concern. This article offers an insight into:

  • What causes vaginal and vulva itching
  • What causes itchy vagina during sex, after period, after shaving and during period
  • What signs and symptoms to look out for
  • Diagnosis, medication and home remedies to help relieve itchy vagina

What causes itchy vagina?

Vaginal itching is a common symptom in most women. Generally, there are several common causes of itching, burning, and irritation.

While most of the causes are harmless and often do not call for urgent medical treatment, some are serious and highly contagious such that they may need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Here are some of the possible causes of itchy vagina:

1. Vaginal yeast infection

Yeast infection is a common cause of itching. This condition is common such that 3 in every 4 women end up developing it. This condition occurs when the yeast- candida grows excessively in the vagina and vulva.

Risk factors for this condition include being pregnant, have multiple sexual partners, excessive use of antibiotics and weakened or having a compromised immune system.

Apart from the itching and irritation, a vaginal yeast infection can lead to the discharge of a thick, white, cheesy vaginal discharge.

2. Vaginitis or Swollen itchy vagina

Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. It often results in discharge, vaginal itching, and pain. Vaginitis often results from a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection in other cases.

The inflammation can also result from reduced estrogen levels after menopause and other skin disorders.

Vaginitis can be shown by the following symptoms:

  • Painful urination
  • Change in color, odor, and volume of vaginal discharge
  • Itching and irritation during intercourse
  • Spotting and light bleeding

3. Lichen sclerosis

Lichen sclerosis is a skin disease of unknown causes. This condition commonly appears as whitish patches on the genitals which can affect anybody.

Lichen sclerosis patches can permanently scar the vaginal area. Postmenopausal women are most likely to develop this condition.

4. Postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis

Also called vaginal atrophy, this is the thinning of the walls of the vagina. The thinning is caused by decreased levels of estrogen that commonly occur in menopause.

According to WebMD, women with postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis have a greater chance of chronic vaginal infection and urinary function problem. This condition can also cause moderate to severe pain during intercourse.

In some women occur during perimenopause while in others the symptoms may not appear until years later. Common symptoms would include the following:

  • Tightening and shortening of vaginal canal
  • Thinning of vaginal wall
  • Burning sensation and vaginal inflammation
  • Spotting after sex
  • Pain during sex
  • Frequent urination
  • Regular urinary tract infection

5. Bacterial vaginosis

For healthy women, it is normal to have a healthy mix of bacteria in the vagina. However, when these bacteria grow out of proportion, it could lead to an infection that can be shown by itching, irritation and swollen bump.

Other symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are inflammation, burning sensation in the vagina and around the inner thighs, and a fishy-smelling vaginal discharge.

6. Genital warts

In both women, genital warts are one of the most common sexually transmitted infection.

Though both men and women are likely to develop this infection, women are more likely than men to develop it genital warts.

Genital warts can grow on the wall of the vagina, vulva, around the anus, in the anal canal, and in the cervix. Signs and symptoms of genital warts include:

  • Itching and irritation in your genital area
  • Flesh-colored swelling
  • Warts may be close together thus take on a cauliflower-like shape
  • Bleeding during sex

7. Herpes

Genital herpes is the other common STD that could be causing the itching. Sexual contact is the primary way the virus spreads from one person to the other.

With herpes simplex virus, it lies dormant in your body after the initial infection. Herpes can cause pain, itching, and painful sores around the genital area.

In other cases, no symptoms are shown. The virus is still very contagious even with no visible sores.

No cure is currently available, but there is medication can help ease the symptoms and reduce the risk of infection.

8. Hormones imbalance

Change in hormone level like during period, pregnancy, menopause and when on chemical birth control might lead to vaginal itching.

When hormones are to blame for the itching and irritation, you are also likely to experience vaginal dryness.

In cases of severe itching, have your health care provider prescribe a hormonal topical cream to try and ease or soothe the itching or irritating. Oral pills may be used when the itching persist for long.

9. Trichomoniasis

Also called “trich” this is also a common STD according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that around 3.7 million people are infected with this condition at any given time.

Trichomoniasis caused by a one-celled protozoan organism called Trichomonas vaginitis. Genital contact during sex is the main cause of person to person infection of the condition.

Majority of those infected will often show no symptom when symptoms occur, they will include the following:

  • Genital itching and burning
  • White, grey, yellow or green vaginal discharge
  • Spotting and bleeding
  • Urgent and frequent urge to urinate
  • Pain when urinating and during sex

10. Vulva cancer

Vulva cancer is a cancer of the vulva. Cancer occurs when abnormal tissue cells reproduce uncontrollably. These abnormal growths can develop anywhere in the body.

Normally the symptoms and treatment will often vary depending on the type and location of cancer.

Vulva cancer can affect the inner and outer lips of the vagina and the clitoris. At early stages, no symptoms are shown, as the growth progress you would expect the following symptoms:

  • Severe itching in the vulvar area
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Pain when urination
  • Wart-like sores or lump on the vulvar
  • Pain and tenderness in the vulvar area

11. Urethritis

This is the inflammation of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outer body.

The inflammation will often result from bacterial infection with pain when urinating as the main symptoms.

12. Chemical irritants

Chemical irritants are also a common cause of vaginal. Chemical substances including creams, douches, condom creams, contraceptives foams, detergents, fabric softeners, and scented toilet paper can all irritate the vagina and vulva.

13. Sexually transmitted disease (STDs)

STDs such as genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea among others can also be the underlying cause of vagina and vulvar itching and irritation.

Other symptoms may vary depending on the actual STD on may be suffering from.

14. Menopause

It is common for women in menopause (end of a woman reproductive years) to experience vaginal itching.

In such cases, the itching can be attributed to a drop in drop estrogen production that causes the vaginal walls to thin and dry out.

Thinning of the vaginal walls is also a common problem in breastfeeding women.

Itchy vagina after shaving

Your genital skin very sensitive. Those who have shaved the pubic hair before might have noticed it’s often very different from shaving other parts of the body.  The pubic hair is thicker and the skin as said is more sensitive.

The itching and irritation after shaving will often result from ingrown hairs, cuts and razor burn.

If you have to shave, you may need to take certain precautions which will include: where to shave, what products to use, and what to do before and after shaving.

To avoid itching after shaving, do the following:

  • First, trim the hair you intend to shave with scissors to prevent razor clogging
  • Now take a warm shower or apply a warm compress over the area you want to shave
  • Loosen ingrown hair by massaging the area with a soft-bristle boy brush
  • Apply a layer of a thick shaving cream. Avoid fragrance cream and lotion as this could cause irritation.
  • Allow the shaving gel to sit for some minutes to further soften the hair
  • Now use a woman’s razor to carefully shave your pubic area
  • Avoid patting your skin dry with a towel, instated apply aloe gel to the area to soothe the skin and ease the pain
  • In cases of irritation, you can apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream at least twice a day until your pubic hair starts to grow.

See Also: How to shave butt crack hair

Itchy vagina after sex, after period and during pregnancy

After sex

It common for some women to experience vaginal itching after sex. Apart from the conditions above, the itching may also be a result of an allergic reaction to latex when using a condom.

It is also possible for some women to have seminal secretion allergy which will often result in itching and redness after sex.

After period

Vaginal itching after period, on the other hand, may result from the irritation of vaginal tract by blood and other shed material.

The other cause of the itching after period may be as a result of a drop in hormone that results in reduced secretions and lubrication.

It is also possible to experience the itching before period and during period as a result of reduced secretion due to low hormones.

During pregnancy

Change in vaginal pH during pregnancy makes it more vulnerable to an infection. Therefore an itchy vagina during pregnancy will often be a sign of an infection.

Early diagnosis and treatment may be required to establish the underlying infection and prevent any unwanted complications.

See Also:

Itchy swollen vag lips no discharge

When the itching is accompanied by foul-smelling discharge, it is often as a result of an infection. This will include such things bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis, genital warts, and herpes among others.

However itching, swelling with no discharge will often point to the presence of some irritant.

Some of these irritants will include underpants tight clothing, and poor hygiene. Trapped moisture can mix with your own vaginal secretion and tissue debris which then results in itching.

To prevent this, you need to maintain proper personal hygiene, wear loose cotton underpants and keep your genital area dry and well aerated. When washing your genital area use plain water.

Dry itchy vagina

A dry and itchy vagina can be very uncomfortable. It is often time marked by scaling, itching, and cracking. This condition can occur due to a number of reasons.

Often time it may be due to soap, gel, or douche used to clean your vagina. Other cause of dry itchy vagina will include:

  • Hormonal changes which explain why most women will often complain of burning itchy and dry vagina in menopause
  • Excessive washing your vagina with soap can also result in itching. to prevent this, only use plain water to wash your vagina
  • Emotional stress may at times result in physical changes such as itching and dryness. Stress may affect the normal balance of different hormone in the body.
  • Improper shaving around the vagina can also result in localize itching

Itchy bumps inside vagina

When the itching is accompanied by painful bumps outside or inside vagina often time it may be a sign of scabies.

Scabies is a contagious skin disease marked by itching, and small raised red spots or bumps. it is caused by an itch mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei.

Scabies is very contagious, it quickly spread through close physical contact that is why when a person is diagnosed with this condition.

Doctors will often recommend treatment for the entire family or contact group.

Apart from the itchy bumps, you will also notice:

  • Severe itching especially at night
  • Tiny blisters or bumps on skin

Treating itchy vagina

When unable to identify the actual underlying cause of the itching, urgent medical diagnosis and treat may be required to identify and treat the underlying cause.

There are different treatment option that will help soothe and ease the discomfort caused by the itching.

Treatment will often vary depending on what the underlying cause of the itching is. In most of the cases, your health care provider may recommend the following:

  • Oral and topical antibiotic creams for bacterial infection such as bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections
  • Antifungal topical creams may also be used to soothe and ease the itching
  • When the itching is accompanied by swelling, then steroid cream or injection may be prescribed
  • Antihistamine creams are used in cases of allergic reactions and irritation
  • Finally, hormone creams are used especially during pregnancy and after period

Home remedies for itchy vagina

Apart from treating the underlying cause of itching, there are some effective home remedies you can use to soothe and ease the irritation naturally at home. They include the following:

a) Probiotics

Probiotics are a substance that stimulates the growth of microorganisms, especially beneficial bacteria. Probiotics work by killing yeast and bad bacteria.

A good example of such products is yogurt, which contains active cultures that can help stop the itching and burning sensation.

To soothe the itching with yogurt,

  • Dip a tampon in yogurt and insert it into the vagina for two hours
  • Do this twice a day
  • Also, increase your consumption of natural yogurt

b) Apple cider vinegar

ACV is also an effective home remedy you can use to soothe the itching. ACV has great antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Apart from soothing the irritation, it can help restore the natural pH balance of the vagina.

  • Add 2 tablespoons of ACV in a glass of warm water
  • Use this solution to wash your vagina at least twice a day
  • Also drink a mixture of 1 tablespoon of ACV, 1 tablespoon of honey, and warm water

c) Saltwater sitz bath

sitz bath

A simple salt bath can also help ease the irritation and relieve an itchy vagina. Add a tablespoon of kitchen salt in a basin with cold water, then sit in it for 20 minutes.

Alternatively, you can use a clean face towel to apply a compress using the salty water.

d) Raw Manuka honey

Unpasteurized honey is also a great home remedy you can use to soothe the itching.

Honey is said to have great antibacterial and antifungal properties that help fight a microbial infection that might be causing the itching.

  • Simply apply the unpasteurized honey as an ointment over the affected area
  • Leave it on for some minutes then rinse it off with cold water
  • You could also eat 2 tablespoons of the honey twice a day

e) Garlic

Fresh garlic also contains antibacterial and antibiotic properties that can be used to soothe itchy vagina. Garlic may also improve and boost your immune system that helps you fight off infections.

  • Dilute few drops of garlic and apply on the affected area
  • Apply the remedy at least twice a day
  • An alternative is you can take garlic supplements

 How to prevent vaginal itching

Though it can be difficult to completely prevent vaginal itching, there are measures you might take to minimize the risk of developing the itching and irritation.

You could do the following:

  • Avoid using scented soap, lotion, and bubble bath when washing your genital area
  • Minimize the use of famine hygiene products as they might worsen the irritation
  • Change out of wet or damp clothes immediately after swimming or after exercising
  • Wear cotton inner pants that ensure proper circulation of air and ensures to always keep your genital dry
  • Eat plenty of probiotics such as yogurt to minimize the risk of bacterial imbalance
  • Those with underlying medical condition such as diabetic should take appropriate treatment options

Sources:

  1. What causes vaginal itching: https://www.healthline.com/symptom/vaginal-itching
  2. 7 sneaky reasons your vagina itches: http://www.health.com/mind-body/7-sneaky-reasons-your-vagina-itches
  3. Vaginal itching, burning, and irritation: https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-itching-burning-irritation#1
  4. Causes of vaginal itching: http://buddymd.com/causes-itchy-vagina-management
  5. Treatment and how to prevent vaginal itching: http://healthtools.aarp.org/health/vaginal-itching
  6. Home remedies for vaginal itching and burning: https://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-vaginal-itching-and-burning.html

 

 

1 Comment

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