This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
Vulvar/vaginal itching is common, so you are not alone. There are a few possible causes of vaginal itching. These causes include yeast infections, menstrual products, fragrances, hormonal changes, skin conditions, irritants, and even menopause. Itching can be very uncomfortable, so vaginal itching often causes discomfort. When you know what is causing the itching, you can start finding some relieving methods to soothe your symptoms. Even though vaginal itching is common, it can be a cause for concern, so we highly advise that if you are concerned about vaginal or vulvar itching (possibly both), the first thing to do is to see your healthcare provider for a check-up.
Chemical irritants in everyday products can cause itching and contact dermatitis when they come into contact with the vulvar and vaginal areas. Ingredients such as dyes, fragrances, and alcohol are likely the culprit for itchy vagina lips. Many products have chemical irritants, such as condoms, soaps, douches, scented toilet paper, scented pads, scented liners, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, shower gels, bubble baths, lotions, and topical contraceptives can irritate the vulva and vagina. These irritants can cause extreme vulvar and vaginal itching, leaving the areas red and sore.
Vaginal candidiasis or yeast infection is a common vaginal infection that 3 out of every 4 women will develop at some point in their lives. Yeast infections occur when there is an overgrowth of the fungus candida in the vulva and vagina. The overgrowth of the yeast is more likely to affect those who are sexually active; use antibiotics; are pregnant; have an impaired immune system; have uncontrolled diabetes; take oral contraceptives or hormone therapy; have hormonal imbalance before menstruation. Symptoms of yeast infections include itching, burning, and redness in the external vaginal area. The vagina will also produce thick, cheesy, white, or yellow discharge that may have a yeasty smell.
Bacterial vaginosis is another infection that causes itchy vagina lips. This infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the vagina that messes up the healthy mix of bacteria in the vagina. When this imbalance occurs, there may not be any symptoms. When symptoms emerge, the vagina may become itchy, inflamed, and have a foul fishy odor. Other symptoms include burning and gray or white discharge.
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Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, cause vaginal and vulvar itching. Other STI symptoms can include genital sores, changes in vaginal discharge, and painful urination.
- Vaginal discharge
- Foul odor
Vaginal and vulvar itching can get better on its own without treatment. But, if the irritation gets worse and the treatment method will differ from whatever the cause after your healthcare provider finds the source with a sample of vaginal discharge.
- For bacterial vaginosis and sexually transmitted infections, the treatment is antibiotics or antiparasitics.
- For yeast infections, there are antifungal medications, such as ointments, suppositories, or creams, that are inserted vaginally or taken orally.
- Other treatments may include steroid lotions or creams to relieve inflammation and irritation.
You can prevent vaginal and vulvar itching at home and maintain good vaginal health in many ways.
- Clean the external part of the vagina with a gentle feminine wash
- Avoid scented creams, soaps, detergents, and bubble baths
- Never use vaginal douches or fragrant perfumes
- Wear cotton underwear
- Always wipe front to back
- Get tested for STIs and STDs
- Use contraceptives for intercourse (condoms or other barrier methods)
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Whether you’re here to solve a problem – like musty odors, dryness, rubbing skin, ingrown hairs, or infection – or to create a daily vulva care regimen… Take our quiz today and reclaim your confidence with the only feminine health assessment – backed by 20+ years of board-certified gynecological experience – that reveals your personalized hygiene routine. (Shh… Don’t tell Big Pharma!)