Vaginal Itching is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptom that is often caused by irritating substances, treatable and preventable infections, or menopause. It can affect any woman, at any age. It can lead to scratching and rubbing which can break the skin and can lead to soreness, bleeding and skin infections.
There are several causes of vaginal itching, burning and irritation, including:
1. Bacterial Vaginosis: It is normal to have a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina. But the wrong balance of bacteria growing there can lead to an infection. Besides itching, other symptoms that come with bacterial vaginosis are inflammation, burning, discharge, and a fishy-smelling odour.
2. Vaginal Yeast Infection: A vaginal yeast infection is a common female condition caused by the fungus candida. Symptoms include intense itching, swelling, and irritation.
3. Allergies and Sensitivities: can cause redness and itching. The vulval area seems to be very sensitive to chemicals, probably because the vulva is moist and warm conditions that favour the absorption of chemicals by the skin. It is possible to develop an allergy to almost any chemical substance that comes into contact with the vulva, such as may be present in creams, soaps, disinfectants, clothing dye, self-adhesive sanitary pads and deodorants.
4. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis and gonorrhoea can cause vaginal itching and irritation as well as other symptoms.
5. Vulvar Cancer: Vulvar cancer is a cancer of the vulva or a woman’s external genitalia. The vulva is comprised of the inner and outer lips of the vagina, the clitoris, and the opening of the vagina. A major symptom of this condition is vulvar itching.
6. Vaginal Thrush: is a yeast infection also known as vaginal candidiasis. About three out of every four women develop vaginal thrush at some point in their lives. Yeast infections occur when the yeast, candida, grows excessively in the vagina and vulva. Pregnancy, sexual intercourse, antibiotics and a weakened immune system can make women more likely to get vaginal thrush. As well as irritation, a yeast infection can produce a thick, white discharge.
7. Menopause: Because of lower oestrogen levels, the vulval skin tends to become thinner and drier after the menopause, and this can make it prone to itch.
Here are a few tips for preventing and treating vaginal irritation at home:
1. Avoid scented pads or toilet paper, creams, bubble bath, feminine sprays, and douches.
2. Use water and a plain, unscented soap to regularly clean your external genital area. But don’t wash more than once a day. Doing so can increase dryness.
3. Always wipe from front to back after having a bowel movement.
4. Wear cotton panties (no synthetic fabrics), and change your underwear every day.
5. Do not douche.
6. Change the diapers of infant girls regularly.
7. Use condoms during sexual intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
8. If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, use a vaginal moisturizer. Apply a water-based lubricant (K-Y, Astroglide) before having sex.
9. Avoid sexual intercourse until your symptoms improve.
10. Don’t scratch — you can further irritate the area.