Let’s admit it: you can’t stop itching “down there”. I know it’s an awkward area to scratch, but you can’t help. Your desire to scratch may lead you to squirm in your seat at public bus or at the office. Itching in the vaginal area can be so disturbing that it can affect both your social life and your personal sexual life. Fortunately, most cases of vaginal itching are not that serious, but you may need to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and effective management.
Causes of Vaginal Itching
There are several reasons for vaginal itching, in this article we’ll try to include some of the common causes of feminine itching and some home remedies for vaginal itching.
Drop in estrogen level during menopause can lead to vaginal thinning, vaginal dryness and vaginal itching. This can be managed effectively with oral hormonal therapy, skin patches, gel or vaginal form of estrogen. Several vaginal estrogen rings are also available for management of genital and urinary dryness and irritation that can be due to drop in estrogen level in women after menopause.
Vulval eczema or vulval dermatitis is another cause of vulvar itching in women. It can develop alone on the vulva or associated with dermatitis in other areas of the body. Women with vulvar eczema may experience vulvar itching and irritation, and may be intense during nights. Some women may also experience burning or stinging like sensation. These symptoms may be aggravated by heat, sweat, menstruation, stress etc.
Vulval Lichen sclerosus (LS) and vulval lichen planus (LP)
Vulval LS and Vulval LP are also common causes of vulval itching in women of all ages. Severe itching, irritation, soreness, thickened skin, patchy pale or white striae are some of the common characteristic features of LS. These white striae may be noticed on the inner aspects of the vulva. These conditions may be more common on postmenopausal women. Vulval LP and LS can be managed effectively with mild, moderate, and potent steroids. As there is small risk of malignant changes (squamous cell carcinoma), one should always seek dermatologist if the lesion persist for long.
Vulvovaginitis can be due to several causes, bacterial vaginosis is one of the common. Bacterial vaginosis can cause a thin, grey vaginal discharge and fishy odor. Another condition called trichomonas vaginitis is also a common cause of vaginal itching and discharge in sexually active women. It may be associated with itching and foul smelly vaginal discharge that may be yellow-grey or green in color. Discomfort and burning micturition are also common.
Yeast infections in women
Vaginal yeast infection is one of the commonest causes of vaginal itching in women of all ages. It is estimated that about 80% of the women will develop yeast infection at some point in their lives. It is commonly caused by the fungus candida albicans which normally lives in small amount in the vagina and doesn’t cause any disease or symptoms. However, due to some conditions the number of candida increases leading to yeast infection. These conditions may be pregnancy, antibiotics, decrease immune system, obesity, diabetes, etc. Besides extreme vaginal itching and irritation, thick, white, cheesy discharge may be seen. Other symptoms may be painful intercourse, painful urination, redness and swelling of the vulva and severe itching and burning of vagina and labia.
If your symptoms are mild you may treat it yourself in home by buying over the counter anti-fungal medications and feminine itch wash or any home remedies for vaginal itching you can find on net. But it is wise to visit a dermatologist and confirm the case before you proceed with the treatment so you won’t have to regret later for misdiagnosis.
There are several numbers of chemical irritants that can cause vaginal irritation and itching. Some of those include detergents, fabric softeners, contraceptive foams or jellies, condoms, scented toilet paper, feminine sprays, ointments, creams, douches and soaps.
Stress is another factor that can cause vaginal itching and further make you more susceptible to several bacterial and fungal infections.
Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy
Vaginal itching during pregnancy is quite common issue and may be related with pH level changes in the vagina. However, sometimes it can also be due to vaginal infection. Yeast infection is the commonest one and may present throughout the pregnancy. Details on Vaginal Itching during Pregnancy can be found here.
Vaginal itching in Children
Vaginal itching is quite common in children and young girls. Itching in children aged 2-7 years may be due to bacterial infection and poor toilet hygiene, while children above 8 years until puberty, yeast infection may be the common one. As vaginal area of young girls can be very sensitive, minor irritants like a piece of tissue paper can also cause itching. Most common irritants that can cause itching are soap and shampoo. However, once puberty begins, the vagina tends to be more acidic, that can fight and help prevent infections. More details Here
Vaginal itching and bleeding
Most of the vaginal itching may be regarded as harmless and easily manageable condition if treated early, however when it is associated with bleeding, one should get a prompt consultation with the gynecologist or dermatologist to rule out cancer. Never delay and try to diagnosis your-self just with the articles that you read over internet.
Prevention and Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching
- Always keep your genital area clean and dry. Avoid using soap, shampoo and bubble bath to the genital area as they can be irritating. Use warm water to clean the genital area every day.
- Don’t over wash the vagina; it can further cause dryness and itching, once daily is usually enough. Avoid douching too.
- Stop using fragrances and feminine hygiene sprays in the genital area.
- Avoid tight clothing, nylon or silk underwear as these materials can restrict airflow resulting in more sweating and irritation. Always use cotton underwear.
- If you are a diabetes patient, always monitor your blood sugar level and keep it under control.
- Always use pads and avoid tampons. Avoid using scented pads.
- Take protective measures with condoms to avoid getting or spreading sexually transmitted infection.
- If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, use good vaginal moisturizers and use water based lubricants during sex.
- It is better to avoid sexual intercourse until your symptoms has improved.
- If you are on certain antibiotics take yogurt to prevent yeast infection.
- Never wipe the area from back to front; this can spread bacteria from anal area to vagina. Always wipe the area with a soft tissue paper from front to back.
- Regular use of vinegar soak or baking soda soaks might help for yeast infection.
Remember: If the itching was due to sexually transmitted infection, it is very important to treat your partner as well, even if he might not have the symptoms. If he is not treated chances of reinfection are very high.