I HAVE AN VAGINAL ITCH!
Of all the places that can get itchy, red, and irritated on your body, your vagina might rank as the absolute worst! And what’s even more frustrating is that you don’t even know why it’s itching at all?
Most women in their life would have at least one episode of vaginal or vulva itching and burning. It is a very common problem, and they often go together. But it’s that one topic women shy away from talking about, not even with their girlfriends. Though the problem is common and never fatal, it can cause physical distress and mental worry.
CAUSES OF VAGINAL ITCHING AND TREATMENT
Most often, the causes of vaginal itching can be treated as long as they are identified accurately. Here are a few things that may cause vaginal itch, and how to get rid of it.
Exposing the vagina to irritating chemicals can cause vaginal itching due to it triggers an allergic reaction that creates an itchy rash over various areas of the body, including the vagina. Common chemical irritants include:
- Antibacterial soap
- bubble baths
- feminine sprays
- vaginal douching
- topical contraceptives/ birth controls
- harsh detergents
- fabric softeners
- scented toilet paper/wipes
If you start getting an itch, avoid these irritants!
Use water and plain, unscented soap to regularly clean your external genital area. But don’t wash more than once a day, as it can increase dryness.
Itchiness caused by irritants responds to steroid creams or lotions, which help to reduce inflammation.
However, you should limit how much you use them because they can also lead to chronic irritation and itching if you overuse them.
2. Skin diseases
Some skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis, can cause redness and itching in the genital region.
Eczema( atopic dermatitis) , is a rash that usually occurs in people with asthma or allergies. The rash most often appears reddish and itchy with a scaly texture. Some women with eczema may experience having a rash over their genitals.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes scaly, itchy, red patches to form along the scalp and joints. At times, outbreaks of these symptoms can occur on the vagina as well.
Once your doctor finds the underlying cause of your vaginal itching, they’ll recommend treatment options that can manage the flare-ups. The specific course of treatment required depends on the particular condition that’s causing the problem.
3. Yeast infection
Yeast is a naturally occurring fungus that’s normally present in the vagina of every woman. It usually doesn’t cause problems, but when its growth goes beyond normal numbers, an uncomfortable infection can occur.
This infection is known as a vaginal yeast infection or vaginal candidiasis. It’s a very common condition, affecting 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lives. The infection often occurs after taking a course of antibiotics, as these types of medications can destroy good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. The good bacteria are needed to keep yeast growth in check.
The overgrowth of yeast in the vagina can result in itching, burning, and curdish/yoghurt-like vaginal discharge.
Your doctor can treat vaginal yeast infections with antifungal medications and symptomatic relief. These come in various forms, including creams, ointments, pessaries or pills. They’re available by prescription or over the counter.
4. Bacterial vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is another common reason for vaginal itching.
BV is triggered when there is a loss of balance between naturally occurring good and bad bacteria in the vagina, similar to a yeast infection.
The condition doesn’t always cause symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they typically include vaginal itching and an abnormal, foul-smelling discharge. The discharge varies from thin and dull grey or white. In some cases, it might also be foamy.
Doctors often treat BV with antibiotics. These may come as pills you take orally or as creams, you insert into your vagina. Regardless of the type of treatment you use, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and to complete the full round of antibiotics.
5. Sexually transmitted diseases
Multiple types of STDs can be transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse or having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners may also cause itching. READ: STD Window Period & Incubating Period
Common STD in Women include:
These conditions can also cause additional symptoms, including abnormal flora growths, green or yellow vaginal discharge, and pain/ burning while urinating.
Women who are going through menopause or who have already done so are more at risk for vaginal itching due to the reduction of estrogen levels that occur during menopause, which leads to vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis.
This is a thinning of the mucosa that can lead to excessive dryness, that many women tend to dismiss. The dryness can cause itching and irritation if you don’t get treated. Menopause-related itching may be treated with estrogen cream, tablets, or a vaginal ring insert
Though this isn’t very common, physical and emotional stress can cause vaginal itching and irritation. Being stressed out weakens your immune system, leaving you more prone to the infection that causes itching.
8. Lichen sclerosis
Another dermatology issue, like eczema or psoriasis, lichen sclerosis is a patchy white rash that causes intense itching and often pops up in your genital area (though it can appear on other parts of the body, too) and it often mimics vulvar cancer, so it’s best to get it checked so that you don’t confuse the two. It can be treated with a prescription-strength topical steroid.
9. Vulvar cancer
Yes, vaginal itching may be a symptom of vulvar cancer. This is a type of cancer that develops in the vulva, which is the external part of the female’s genitals. It includes the inner and outer lips of the vagina, the clitoris, and the opening of the vagina.
Vulvar cancer may not always cause symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include itching, abnormal bleeding, or pain in the vulvar area.
Vulvar cancer can be treated successfully if your doctor diagnoses it in the early stages. making that yearly gynecologist checkup super important.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A PROBLEM?
KNOW YOUR SYMPTOMS! It’s really important to be able to tell the difference between your normal vaginal discharge and the abnormal ones. However, vaginal itching and irritation can occur even if you don’t have a vaginal infection.
Vaginal itching and irritation are usually characterized by a tingling, stinging or burning sensation of the external skin surrounding the vaginal area. The itching can range from mild to severe and can come and go at any time.
HOW TO GET IT CHECKED?
Visit your doctor! Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, including how severe they are and how long they have lasted. They may ask you about your sexual activities as well.
Most often, a pelvic examination aids in telling us about what actually is going on down there. During a pelvic examination, your doctor will visually inspect the vulva and may use a speculum to see inside the vagina. This allows them to check the reproductive organs for any abnormalities.
Your doctor may also perform a Pap Smear or take a sample of your discharge for analysis, together with a blood/urine test.
HOME REMEDIES THAT CAN HELP YOU!
You can prevent most cases of vaginal itching through good hygiene and lifestyle habits. There are several steps you can take at home to prevent vaginal irritation and infection:
- Use warm water and a gentle cleanser to wash your genital area.
- Avoid scented soaps, lotions, and bubble baths.
- Avoid using such products as vaginal sprays and douches.
- Change out of wet or damp clothing right after swimming or exercising.
- Wear cotton underwear and change your underwear every day.
- Eat yogurt with live cultures to reduce the chance of getting yeast infections.
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse.
- Always wipe from front to back after having a bowel movement.
Itching or irritation anywhere on the body can cause discomfort. But when it occurs in an area as sensitive as the vagina and vulva (the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening), it can be especially uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms that often occurs due to irritating substances, infections, menopause or cancer.
Most genital itching and irritation isn’t a major concern. But because they can be symptoms of an infection, it’s always a good idea to visit your doctor and get help.