Vaginal itching is a bothersome irritation and tingling of the skin on the vagina, and surrounding areas. Tingling and increased sensitivity on the inside of the vagina or surrounding skin (vulva) can cause major discomfort, often accompanied by the uncomfortable urge to scratch the area.
Causes of Vaginal Itching and Irritation:
Vaginal itching or irritation is most often than not harmless. However, prolonged and persistent symptoms of itching and burning in the area could be due to various causes and needs to be evaluated by a doctor.
Some of the common causes of vaginal itching include:
- Stress can make the immune system weaker, resulting in infections that could cause vaginal itching.
- Hormonal changes during menopause could lead to excessive dryness of the vaginal area.
- Allergies and chemical irritants from certain fabrics, soaps or detergents, may cause irritation and increased sensitivity in the area.
- Yeast Vaginitis is a condition that is common in women and is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This infection is often caused during pregnancy or due to antibiotics, birth control pills, diabetes, intercourse or a weakened immune system.
- The infection from the growth of yeast in the area may result in a heavy white discharge accompanied with itching.
- Vaginal itching could be due to an abrasion caused by inserting a foreign object without proper lubrication.
Wearing very tight clothing, horse riding or bike riding might also be responsible for sensitivity and irritation in the area.
- Vaginitis is an infection often affecting young girls before puberty. If the infection has been sexually transmitted in a minor, it is important to address the situation and take effective action for sexual abuse.
- Very rarely, vaginal or vulvar itching is observed in precancerous skin.
What Are The Symptoms?
Vaginal itching is quite common. Most women experience it at some point in their lives. Some symptoms that may accompany vaginal itching are pain, redness, swelling, discharge or bleeding in the vaginal and/or vulvar area.
Home Remedies For Vaginal Itching:
Many home remedies are known to be effective in treating the symptoms. The following tips will help treat and prevent vaginal irritation in future.
- Wear fabrics that breathe. A good choice would be cotton underwear. Synthetic fibers could worsen the condition.
- Clean underwear is also important to ensure that the area does not get infected.
- Wearing wet or soiled underwear could promote the growth of bacteria and yeast.
- Prevent sexually transmitted diseases by wearing condoms during intercourse.
- Excessive dryness of the vaginal area needs to be treated by using an appropriate vaginal moisturizer.
- Excessive washing or douching of the area could remove the good bacteria in the vaginal area, making it more prone to dryness or infection.
- Scented soaps, bubble baths, toilet paper or cream, could irritate the vagina or vulva.
- Following proper care and hygiene such as wiping from to back after a bowel movement is important.
- Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an ideal weight can help keep vaginal infections at bay.
- Yoghurt is rich in Lactobacillus acidophilus. The live cultures in yoghurt are known to boost the immune system and prevent infections.
- Having a diet that is rich in phytoestrogens such as tofu, flaxseed and soy has been known to be very helpful in prevention of vaginal dryness.
- Increase or change in sugar levels often increases sensitivity in the vaginal area.
- Maintaining optimal blood sugar level for diabetics is important.
- Young adolescent girls are also prone to yeast infection and need to be educated about proper care and hygiene.
It might be helpful to:
- Abstain from sexual activity, till the condition improves
- Avoid excessive activity and conditions such as heat and sweating.
- Scratching can make the condition worse and should be avoided.
Many natural and herbal remedies are known to help soothe the symptoms and possibly treat the problem.
- Lycopodium has been known to naturally heal and cure yeast infection and its related symptoms such as redness, itching and irritation.
- Sepia is a homeopathic remedy that has been known to help women in menopause with vaginal dryness, discharge or itching.
- Pure coconut or olive oil have been known to be therapeutic in treating vaginal dryness and irritation.
- Garlic is noted for its anti-fungal properties. Consuming drinks with crushed raw garlic might help tremendously in healing fungal infections.
- Calendula ointments have healing powers and are beneficial in rejuvenating the tissues in the vaginal area.
- Using a cold cloth compress will help soothe the area and curb the urge to scratch the area.
- Kreosotum is another homeopathic ingredient that has been known to help with excessive vaginal itching, redness and discharge.
- Applying buttermilk to the vaginal area has been known to soothe and relieve symptoms of itching and irritation.
- Apple cider vinegar mixed with yoghurt can be dabbed on the affected area with a washcloth to provide relief.
- Herbal extracts from slippery elm and grapefruit seeds have been known to be helpful in reducing discomfort.
When to Seek Professional Medical Help
Vaginal itching might occasionally be accompanied with some other symptoms. It is important to contact a doctor if:
- Vaginal itching is accompanied by fever or lower abdominal pain
- If there are indications of diabetes such as sudden weight loss, fatigue, excessive thirst or increased urination Lesions, or ulcers on the vagina or vulva
- Symptoms of a urinary tract infection such as burning or discomfort during urination
- Signs of unusual vaginal discharge, bleeding or swelling
- If there are symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease or a sexual partner is also showing symptoms of infection
- If the symptoms are prolonged or constantly recur, in spite of proper care and prevention, it is best to seek prompt medical attention
What to Expect At The Doctor’s Office
The doctor will conduct a pelvic exam and ask relevant questions to better understand the causes and symptoms. Diagnostic tests may include a pap smear, blood and urine tests, culture of the vaginal discharge and skin biopsy. Based on the diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe drugs such as:
- Hormone preparations to treat sensitivity and dryness
- Steroid lotions to provide relief from irritation and tingling
- Antibiotics to treat vaginal infections, including sexually transmitted diseases
- Anti-fungal medications to treat yeast infection