Vaginal itching is an uncomfortable sensation that appears in the vaginal area that can be due to different types of etiology and related to different symptoms. Vaginal itching is a typical symptom in women, being one of the main gynecological consultations. The causes can be different such as fungi, excessive hygiene or hygiene with irritating products, decrease in estrogen in menopause, bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted disease, skin irritation, stress or even vulvar cancer. It is important to detect what the cause is in order to know which process to use in the intervention.
As we have already said, itching can be accompanied by different symptoms such as pain, increased urinary frequency or pain during urination, change in the color and smell of vaginal discharge, pain during sexual practices or bleeding during intercourse. The treatment will be different depending on the alteration, it has been tried with antifungal medications that fight fungi, antibiotics, antiviral or antiparasitic, estrogen medications or steroid creams to reduce inflammation.
In this article we will talk about vaginal itching, how it is defined, what causes can generate it, what symptoms it can show and what treatments are the most indicated according to the etiology.
- We recommend you read: “Vaginal candidiasis: causes, symptoms and treatment”
What do we mean by vaginal itching?
Vaginal itching is an annoying symptom that causes itching or pain in the vaginal area due to different causes. Despite not normally being a serious condition, it is one of the most frequent, accounting for approximately 20% of gynecological consultations. Likewise, this affectation is usually recurrent and remains chronic.
For this reason, given that the causes can be diverse and related to different degrees of severity, it is proper for the doctor to assess the symptoms to carry out the proper and most appropriate treatment.
As we have mentioned, there are multiple causes linked to vaginal itching, related to different degrees of severity. So let’s see what alterations can lead to this unpleasant sensation. It is essential to perform regular gynecological check-ups to detect the alteration or pathology early and avoid possible complications.
1. Skin problems
There are skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitiswhich is a swelling of the skin or psoriasis, which generates redness and irritation of the skin, which can affect the vaginal area and cause discomfort and an itchy sensation.
2. Irritating products
The vagina is a sensitive part of the body that needs special care, for this reason we must take into account what products we use in this area, to prevent it from becoming irritated, generating an allergic reaction and possibly itching. In this way, we will monitor what type of soap to apply, it is recommended to use a special one for this area; what kind of cream; what softener; what kind of birth control…
3. Vaginal yeast infection
Vaginal yeast infection is seen when a dysregulation of vaginal yeast occurs. There are fungi that are found in the vaginal area in a normal way, without causing any affectation, but when their quantity increases excessively, it can lead to infection. This dysregulation of fungi may be due to taking antibioticssince this eliminates the bad bacteria but also the good ones, necessary to control the amount of fungi.
An example of a fungal infection that occurs frequently is vaginal candidiasis, caused by different types of fungi called candida, which, when increasing rapidly, can cause infection in the vagina and irritation.
Another common cause that can cause vaginal itching is sexually transmitted diseases that can be transmitted by having unprotected sex. These sexual diseases can be: chlamydia, can infect both sexes, causing damage to the female reproductive system, making it difficult to have children in the future; gonorrhea, which causes pain and increased urinary frequency; genital herpes, pain and difficulty urinating and itching around the genitals; genital warts, which can cause swelling, itching and even bleeding; trichomoniasis, which causes redness, itching, or pain during intercourse.
5. Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis also appears due to dysregulation between good and bad bacteria. In this way, symptoms such as itching and alteration of the flow can be observed, which can change its color, more whitish and smell.
Menopause can also bring vaginal itching. In this phase, a hormonal change is observed, where estrogens decrease, generating, among other symptoms, a decrease in vaginal discharge and with it an increase in dryness. In this way, if no intervention is performed, these changes can cause vaginal itching.
7. Foreign body
Hygienic utensils such as the tampon can also cause itching if not used properly and not changed according to the recommended frequency.
Another cause of vaginal itching, although this is less common, is stress, since this, if maintained persistently it can cause alterations of the immune system being thus more likely to appear infections or vaginal conditions.
9. Vulvar cancer
Cancer of the vulva, which is part of the external genitalia of women, is also a less frequent cause, but it can cause vaginal itching among other symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or vulvar pain.
Symptoms of vaginal itching
The symptoms can be different depending on the cause. It is recommended to intervene if we notice discomfort in the genital area, especially if it begins to affect our daily life and causes us discomfort. Along with vaginal itching we can also feel or observe: change in vaginal discharge (color and smell), reddened genital area, vaginal pain, blisters, pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse or change in frequency and urinary pain.
Faced with these symptoms, we should consult a doctor to detect the precise cause. and thus be able to carry out an effective intervention to be able to combat the affectation. The characteristic procedure for observation and diagnosis consists of asking the patient questions regarding symptoms, visual inspection of the area, analysis of tissue and flow samples, and urine and/or blood analysis.
Treatment of vaginal itching
In the same way that there are different etiologies that can cause vaginal itching, it will be necessary to carry out different types of intervention depending on the cause in order to relieve symptoms effectively. Below we will mention the intervention applied according to the cause detected.
1. Vaginal yeast infection
As we pointed out, vaginal infections are usually a common cause that lead to a sensation of vaginal itching. In this way, and given that the affectation is not usually serious, there are medicines that we can buy at the pharmacy without a prescription, both pills and creams. Even so, if you have not had any vaginal infection before and therefore have not felt this sensation, it is better to consult your doctor to rule out other causes and to prescribe the most effective medication for our condition. The drugs that are usually used are antifungals that act by preventing the growth of fungi and can even kill them.
2. Sexually transmitted diseases
Once the gynecologist has detected what type of sexually transmitted disease is causing the symptoms, he will prescribe the most appropriate medication to combat the pathology, these can be antibiotics, antivirals or antiparasitics. It is essential to follow the medical indications for the treatment to work effectively and to be responsible to avoid transmitting the disease.
3. Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotic medications, either orally or vaginally, with the use of creams. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions and not stop applying the cream or taking the drug despite not feeling symptoms, since the condition may not be completely cured and there is a higher risk of recurrence, of showing symptoms again. It is essential that pregnant women comply with treatment as directed to avoid complications in childbirth.
As we saw, the main cause of vaginal itching associated with menopause is dryness of the vagina due to a decrease in estrogen levels, for this reason we can use estrogen creams or rings, as well as lubricants. We can also try changing cleaning products that can dry and irritate the vaginal area and avoid excessive vaginal hygiene.
5. Other interventions
Referring to another cited symptomatology, in case of observing eczema or psoriasis we will apply the pertinent creams to reduce the affectation. We will also try to choose hygienic products that are suitable and do not irritate the skin. Likewise, if it is detected that the cause is vulvar cancer, the pertinent procedure for said pathology will be carried out, such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Steroid cream has also been tried to reduce inflammation and thus discomfort, but we must try to make proper use of them and not apply them in excess, since otherwise it can lead to side effects and generate greater vaginal itching and irritation.