Vaginal itching.

No one wants to be bothered by their lady parts.

The uncomfortable sensation can range from mild and brief to severe and persistent. 

Almost every vagina owner will experience some vaginal itching at some point in their life. Often, it’s usually not a concern. But what causes the vagina to itch in the first place? And how do you know when to see a doctor? 

Let’s go over some of the most common causes of vaginal itching, when to seek medical attention, and treatments you can expect.

What can cause vaginal itching?

There are quite a few conditions that can cause vaginal itching. Here are some of the most common to be aware of.

Yeast Infection

This is usually the first culprit you think of when they begin to itch down there. Yeast is a naturally-occurring fungus in the vagina and plays a role in keeping you healthy. However, if something upsets the balance of your vaginal bacteria, it can result in an overgrowth of yeast. Yeast infections can be caused by hormonal changes—such as birth control, pregnancy, menopause, or douching—or antibiotic use.

Please say no to douche. The vagina is a self-cleaning oven. It is never necessary. 

Irritants

Just like any part of the body, your vulva are vulnerable to allergic reaction. If a product or chemical irritates sensitive skin, you may experience itching and/or inflammation. Potential triggers to be on the lookout for include pads and tampons, certain underwear materials, scented products (lotions, soaps, detergents), latex condoms, and lube.

If you have persistent vaginal itching, it could be something more – like a skin condition, ie. Lichen sclerosis. If you keep itching, please see your doctor AND if your doctors says it’s nothing, please see an expert in vulvovaginal disorders.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is an infection caused by an imbalance of normal vaginal bacteria. Sometimes, BV presents with no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include vaginal itching along with abnormal discharge and unpleasant odor.

STIs

Vaginal itching can sometimes be an early indication of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  STIs that may cause this symptom include pubic lice, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Other Skin Conditions

Sometimes, skin diseases that affect other areas of your body can affect the area around your vagina too. Eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis are examples of common skin conditions that can cause vaginal itching, redness, and inflammation.

When should I see a doctor about vaginal itching?

Sometimes, vaginal itching clears up on its own. But if it persists for more than a week or begins to disrupt your daily life or sleep, you should make an appointment with your doctor. You should also see your OBGYN if your vaginal itching is accompanied by any of the following symptoms.

  • Abnormal discharge
  • Vaginal pain or abnormal bleeding
  • Urinary issues—burning when urinating, frequent urination, urinary urgency 
  • White patches or blisters

How is vaginal itching treated?

Treatment for vaginal itching will depend on the underlying cause. 

If you’re dealing with an allergic reaction, for example, the itching will usually stop when the irritant is removed. This is often a process of elimination.

For infections, antibiotics or antifungals are usually prescribed and very effective. 

If your doctor suspects a separate skin condition, further treatment plans may be necessary.

For mild itching cases, there are over-the-counter topicals available to help relieve your discomfort. You should not use any OTC products for vaginal itching before consulting with a doctor about the underlying cause.

A great resource for Vulvovaginal Health – ACOG FAQs

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