Vaginal Itching 101: Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment
The itch can become severe making it hard to ignore. You must resist the urge to scratch the vulva area, as that becomes troublesome. It can lead to an infection even.
For some, this serves as a source of huge embarrassment. Especially when you feel the urge to itch your vaginal area in public.
So, vaginal itching is a dilemma in itself. It is basically the inflammation of the vagina which could lead to discharge and you can suffer from pain as well. This happens as there is a change in the regular balance of vaginal bacteria.
A Look into Vaginal Itching:
It is also a very common issue that most women will face at some point in life. But there’s no need for alarm.
Fortunately, most of the causes can be handled without the need of extensive medical care.
While many assume that its main cause is yeast infection, but the fact is there are multiple causes due to which you might be having itching.
Did you know women going through menopause also face vaginal itch as they experience estrogen level fluctuations because their vaginal wall tends to become drier and thinner.
Aside from this, a female is also prone to facing vaginal health concerns due to psychological issues- one of the major being subjected to stress.
Yes, having stress can lead to the formation of yeast infection which will lead to itching and scratching. We will talk about this in detail later in the post.
So, you are probably wondering:
Can Vaginal Itching Happen To Me?
Now that we have a fair idea on what Itching means, let’s look into who can face it at some point in time. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t happen to older women only. In fact, it can occur in women and children of all ages, due to one of the following reasons:
Children may be facing itching or having a burning sensation due to ‘Vaginitis’- which is common when children don’t wipe(toilet paper) their vaginal areas properly after using toilet facilities.
They may also face vaginal itch due to heavy chemical preservatives in their bubble baths, causing strong inflammation.
Unfortunately, those who have been subjected to sexual abuse will also face long-term itching and burning which will require medical assistance.
Women who are young and of reproductive age will face itching due to different kinds of infection which they may incur, including:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Trichomonal vaginitis
- Irritation reactions due to usage of, detergents, soaps, creams, condoms
- Genital herpes
Women with Menopause
Women, who have entered their menopause phase, will most likely experience vaginal itch because of:
- Atrophic vaginitis
- Vaginal cancer or cervical cancer
- Bedbound women will face it due to chemical vulvitis
- Much like younger women, post-menopause women will face allergic reactions from clothing, detergents, soaps, creams, among others.
This leads to one of the most commonly asked question:
Is There a Discharge With Vaginal Itching?
According to WebMD, discharge usually occurs in cases of vaginal itches associated to yeast infection.
Did you know that three out of four women are likely to develop a yeast infection at some point in their lives?
Aside from the itching and irritation, a yeast infection produces a thick, white discharge, which can differ in duration among various cases. It usually occurs with the excessive use of creams, soaps, or other items which are likely to irritate the vulva. Hence, ladies stop spending major bucks at Bath and Body Works.
Why does my Vagina Itch?
Up till now, we have had a fairly good discussion on what constitutes as a vaginal itch; to whom it can happen to and why vaginal discharge is subjective to certain kind of vaginal itches.
Lichen sclerosus is a skin disorder that might cause small areas of your skin to become thin and discolored so that white patches develop. The skin can crack and can cause pain and itching quite similar to this problem.
Now, let’s dive into the details of why itching happens?
There are a range of reasons. Check them out:
Exposure to Chemicals
Don’t fall for those highly-marketed bubble baths and beauty products.
Many of these are actually extremely irritating to the skin due to high levels of chemicals in the formula. You can easily get rashes which can evolve to serious vaginal issues.
Consider using the following very sparingly:
Having skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, are likely to cause itching in the genital region as it has a scaly texture. Psoriasis can outbreak in the vaginal area, making it irritable and prone to rash.
Coming back to one of the most common causes of itching, here’s an interesting fact for you: yeast is actually a natural fungus which is already present in the vagina. However sometimes due to its growth surge, it can lead to infection.
What happens is when you fall ill and start taking antibiotics, these medications have a strong impact on the good bacteria; this leads to overgrowth of yeast which in turn causes an itching and burning sensation in the vagina.
Bacterial vaginosis bv is also like yeast infection, and it happens due to the rise in bad bacteria. The biggest signs and symptoms that you might have in this kind of infection is that there is a vaginal discharge which is of dull gray color. It is also foul-smelling, becoming a huge discomfort for women health.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases STDs arise due to unprotected sexual intercourse. One needs to be very careful with sexually transmitted infections during sexual activates. One of the main issues this can cause is itching. This includes diseases like:
Looking back into how stress can have such draining affects on our health, according to recent researches, stress actually weakens the immune system. This causes your body to become more prone to infections, with itching being the most common one.
We have talked plenty about what is vaginal itch, and why does it happen. We will now discuss the most important part of this discussion:
How do I Treat My Vaginal Itch?
Before getting into the details of it, know that the kind of treatment you opt for, definitely depends on the kind and severity of itching that you are experiencing.
Medical Methods To Treat Vaginal Itch:
You will most likely have a consultation session with your doctor first, determining the state of the infection.
If the itch is due to vaginal yeast infection, you will be prescribed an antifungal medication. The most commonly used is the itching cream, or you can be given pills or ointments too.
If it’s a BV, you will be prescribed with antibiotics, which are taken either orally or inserted into vagina.
STDs are usually treated with antivirals, or antiparasitics.
For Menopause-induced itching, doctors advise estrogen cream, or in certain cases even vaginal ring insert.
However remember, not all vaginal itches need over-the-counter medications.
Sometimes, when it’s low in severity, the best thing you can do is leave it alone.
Some irritation can often go away on its own. Even applying steroid creams should be under a specialist’s supervision, as overusing will lead to chronic discomfort.
Checklist to Treat and Prevent Vaginal Itch Right at Home:
Check out this quick overview on ways you can use home remedies to treat your vaginal itch. The list also gives an overview on how you can adapt a hygienic lifestyle that will prevent vaginal itch happening in the first place.
There are several steps you can take at home to prevent vaginal irritation and infection: If it is mild and it isn’t too painful or rash, see if any of the following works for you:
- Use warm water to clean your genital area
- Avoid using scented pads
- Avoid bubble baths and other scented, chemically-enhanced pampering products
- Don’t douche
- Make it a habit to wear cotton underwear
- Wipe from front to back while using the washroom
- Make use of vaginal moisturizer during vaginal dryness
- Avoid scratching your genital area
- Avoid sex till conditions improve
- Try wearing loose-clothing
- Keep the genital area dry; pat dry as soon as you have had a bath or swim
I hope this comprehensive blog has given you insightful details on what entails a itching, why you are likely to get it and what are the ways to treat it and prevent it from happening.
However, sometimes, the itching has advanced to a high level of discomfort. This is when you need to seek professional advice. A doctor will provide the much needed health information.
See Your Doctor When:
- The smell, discharge and itching is not subsiding at all
- It’s your first time to experience a vaginal infection and you don’t know how to go about it
- Despite your over-the-counter medication, the issue remains
- You are also experiencing a fever and chills with the itching
If the itching does not subside besides your efforts then it is time that you should consult a gynecologist.
It can be either due to constantly using soaps and fragrances around that area or not treating the cause. Your doctor can give you topical or oral medicine to cure this itching.
What to Expect During the Appointment?
During the appointment, your doctor will ask about your symptoms including how severe they are and how long do they last.
Moreover, they may also ask about your sexual activities and will likely perform a pelvic examination.
During this exam, your doctor will visually inspect your vulva and may also use a speculum to see the insides of your vagina.
They may also press down on your abdomen while inserting a gloved finger into your vagina. This process allows them to check for abnormalities in your reproductive organs.
Additionally, your doctor may also collect a sample of skin tissue from your vulva or a sample of your discharge for analysis.
To check for other issues, they may also order blood tests and urine tests as well.
Summing it Up
Though, if it is not severe enough and does stop on its own sometimes then you can continue wearing loose clothes, moisturize, and dry your vaginal area to prevent the condition.
Do not itch your genital area even if you feel like it. Not only can it be embarrassing when you are in public situations but it may exacerbate your condition.
Hence, you should only follow the recommendation of not itching in the first place and trying to reduce it by using moisturizers and topical ointments prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor can also suggest you take fungal medications, oral antibiotics or antiviral drugs depending on the cause of your condition.
Either way, vaginal itching makes for an uncomfortable situation. Do not try to bear it rather treat it by incorporating these lifestyle changes and visiting your doctor for proper treatment.