Top causes of vaginal itching
Vaginal itching even though they are not life-threatening, can be uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes embarrassing! It is a fairly common problem among women. This annoying condition can be caused by numerous irritants. Some are infection-related and others can be linked to external factors or the stage in a woman’s life. Thankfully, once the cause of the vaginal itch is diagnosed, a plan for treatment and relief can commence. There are 7 major causes of vaginal itching. Understanding each cause will help you acquire effective treatment and perhaps in some circumstances avoid this condition altogether.
Causes of vaginal itching
- Bacterial Vaginosis
This condition occurs when the balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria in the vagina has been lost. There are primarily 2 types of bacteria in your vagina, lactobacilli, and anaerobes. The ratio of bacteria in the vagina should favor lactobacilli since this is the “good bacteria”. When there is an imbalance, anaerobes flourish, and that’s when the telltale itching starts. While no one is quite sure what may trigger the imbalance. It is believed that some of the following may be likely causal factors.
-Unprotected sexual intercourse
-Different sex partners
Another cause of vaginal itching is a condition called Vaginal Thrush is caused when Candida albicans yeast starts to multiply in large amounts. This yeast is harmless but can’t cause uncomfortable itching. You may experience a flare is you are pregnant, using birth control or if your diabetic to name a few causes. Sometimes, it is hard to pinpoint what has caused the yeast to multiply.
- Sexually transmitted diseases
Most sexually transmitted diseases usually come with the comfortable side effect of vaginal itching. In fact, it is often what cues you in that something might be wrong. All of the following sexually transmitted diseases usually come with some sort of vulva or vaginal itching:
- Chemical irritants
Most harsh chemicals can irritate the vagina resulting in itching. You should be mindful when using the following and where possible avoid usage or maybe experiment with different brands:
- scented toilet paper
- condoms (sometimes the lubricant used can cause irritation)
- contraceptive foams
- fabric softeners
- shaving creams
- Perimenopause and other hormonal changes
In the course of your life, your hormone levels will vary and you may notice changes. Fluctuation in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause causes the walls of the vagina to start thinning. A side effect of this process is vaginal itching.
- Skin conditions
There are certain skin conditions where vaginal itching can be a symptom:
An autoimmune disease that affects the skin
A condition that causes patches of skin to become red, cracked itchy, and inflamed.
This is a rare condition that affects the anal and genital area. The skin often appears blotchy.
Frequently Asked Questions about Vaginal Itching
Why am I itching more at night?
Some women report that their vaginal itching worsens at night. It may be when you are trying to sleep you are more aware of your body. Even though you may seem to suffer more at night, you should seek to discover the source of the irritation ( allergic reaction or yeast infection, etc).
If the itching persists, you should seek medical attention.
What are some home remedies that I use to stop the itching?
Vaginal itching is pretty hard to ignore. So you may want to try some home remedies to ease your discomfort. Here are measures that you can use to provide some temporary relief:
– Take a cool bath.
– Apply an ice pack or a cold wet cloth to the itchy skin. Do this for about 10 minutes until the itching passes. Repeat as needed.
– Moisturize the affected area.
– Use cooling over the counter cream. Creams with aloe vera may prove effective.
– Don’t scratch the area. It may a good idea to keep fingernails short.
What can I do to prevent further itching?
Thankfully, there are some measures you can adopt to prevent vaginal itching from resurfacing.
-Avoid scented feminine hygiene products-
Scented creams, bubble baths, pads, sprays, and toilet paper are a definite no-no.
These products can cause irritation and upset that delicate PH balance.
-Use unscented products-
Dermatologists recommend that you use unscented soap and water to wash your external genitalia. It is important not to overdo, washing once a day is perfectly acceptable. Washing your vaginal area too often could result in dryness, which may cause itching, which is the symptom you are trying to avoid.
You can also consider using hypoallergenic tested products for sensitive skin.
The manufacturers of these brands have designed them specifically to prevent irritation.
-Wipe from front to back-
This is a rule that should be strictly adhered to. If you don’t, fecal matter containing harmful bacteria from a bowel movement will be tracked into the vagina.
-Wear cotton underwear-
Panties made out of synthetic fabrics do not allow enough air to circulate in your genital area. These heated conditions provide a perfect breeding ground for yeast and harmful bacteria to flourish. Undergarments should be changed every day as a rule.
-Do not douche-
Douching is a practice that washing out bacteria from the vagina. As we have mentioned above, there are good bacteria in your vagina that help maintains the balance. Douching washes out both the good and the bad bacteria, leaving you exposed to possible infection.
-Use protection during sexual intercourse-
Many infections can be spread via sexual contact. You should always ensure that your partner wears a condom or you can wear a female condom to guard against sexually transmitted diseases.
-Use a vaginal moisturizer-
If you have a tendency to experience vaginal dryness, you should use a vaginal moisturizer before having sex.
You may also consider vitamin E vaginal suppositories. Also, always pay attention to your labels, make sure that your vaginal moisturizer does not have any propylene glycol, parabens or glycerin. These are notorious skin irritants.
-Avoid sexual intercourse while symptoms persist-
The friction during sexual intercourse may cause further irritation.
When it comes to vaginal itching, prevention is better than cure. However, if you do fall victim to this uncomfortable condition, the key is to then identify the cause sooner rather than later.
Once you know what is the cause, effective treatment can be explored.
- Nunn, K. L., Clair, G. C., Adkins, J. N., Engbrecht, K., Fillmore, T., & Forney, L. J. (2020). Amylases in the Human Vagina. mSphere, 5(6), e00943-20. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00943-20
- Amabebe, E., & Anumba, D. (2018). The Vaginal Microenvironment: The Physiologic Role of Lactobacilli. Frontiers in medicine, 5, 181. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2018.00181
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