Vaginal itching can drive you mad. Firstly, the itching is in such a sensitive area that you cannot even scratch to your heart’s content to ease yourself. Secondly, its not an area of the body you can scratch whenever you want. And finally, imagine having to sit still and smile and talk to people when there’s a veritable circus in your pants, and not in a good way. No woman will deny that it can be frustrating and highly embarrassing to experience vaginal itching. And no woman can say she has never had vaginal itching because every woman does at some point in her life. So now that we’ve agreed we have all had to deal with the problem, let’s try to understand this most uncomfortable of vaginal issues.
What Are the Causes of Vaginal Itching?
- Most cases of vaginal itching are caused by yeast infections.
- Vaginal itching is a symptom of some sexually transmitted diseases like bacterial vaginosis, pubic lice, trichomoniasis, and herpes.
- Vaginal itching often occurs during pregnancy because of the changing levels of hormones in the body.
- If you are approaching menopause or have already hit menopause, then you will experience a lot of vaginal itching. Since the estrogen levels in the body reduce in the years heading up to menopause and especially after menopause, the lining of the vaginal wall thins out, the vagina and cervix do not produce enough mucous to lubricate the vagina, and therefore it gets dry. This leads to vaginal itching.
- If you have just shaved your pubic area, you can expect vaginal itching on the second or third day. There is nothing you can do about this except wait for the hair to grow out, at which point the itching will stop. This may take about a week.
- Your vaginal itching may be an allergic reaction something that has come in contact with your genital area. Some of the culprits include lubricants or lubricating jellies, vaginal deodorants, the detergent, fabric softener or bleach that you use to wash your underwear, lotions, creams, and sometimes even flavored condoms.
- Douching dries out the vagina and leads to vaginal itching.
- Not surprisingly, stress can cause vaginal itching too. Several studies have shown that stress has a negative impact on the immune system, thus weakening it and making the body vulnerable to infections that can lead to vaginal itching.
- In rare cases, vaginal itching may be a sign of pre-cancer in the skin cells of the vulva, especially if the vaginal itching is accompanied by a thin bloody vaginal discharge.
- Vaginal itching in children may be caused pinworms, an infection-causing parasite. Although children do experience vaginal itching, it is prudent to always consider that the child has been sexually abused and has contracted a sexually transmitted disease as a result of the encounter. This is why it is very important to properly diagnose vaginal itching in children so that the sinister reason can be ruled out or verified.
What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Itching
Vaginal itching is characterized by a tingling sensation around the mouth of the vagina, the vulva, the labia, or all of these areas. You may have an uneasy feeling in the crotch and desperately want to scratch to ease the discomfort.
Can Vaginal Itching be Treated?
First, you have to detect the cause of your vaginal itching. Your doctor will conduct a basic pelvic examination to gauge if there are any other symptoms around the vagina. Some of the following tests may be conducted as well.
- Pap smear
- Culture test of vaginal discharge
- Blood and urine tests to check hormonal levels
- Biopsy of skin on the vulva (to rule out cancer)
It is only when you treat the root of the problem that the vaginal itching will go away. You will be prescribed antibiotics either in tablet or ointment form or both. A lotion or gel may also be prescribed to soothe the vaginal itching. Antihistamines are generally recommended for relief from vaginal itching at night. If there is swelling in addition to your vaginal itching, steroids will help to reduce it. A yeast infection can be easily treated with over-the-counter ointment. But if you are unsure that it is a yeast infection, go see your doctor. If the vaginal itching is caused by vaginal dryness due to changing hormone levels, estrogen pills, gels or an estrogen ring may have to be used to ease the vaginal itching.
Tips for Vaginal Itching
Treatment for vaginal itching is all well and good. However, you have to take some other measures as well to help your treatment along.
- Do not scratch. This will just make the vaginal itching much, much worse as you are aggravating the skin. Plus, you risk spreading the infection when you scratch.
- Keep clean down there when you suffer from vaginal itching. Wash a few times a day with plain water, and at least twice a day with a mild soap. Try washing with cold water if possible as this can help to greatly relieve the itching for a little while. Do not douche or use perfumed soaps though. These are far too harsh, completely unnecessary, and will just exacerbate the vaginal itching.
- Wear clean cotton underwear while you are being treated for vaginal itching. Synthetic fabrics tend to irritate the skin. Change often. Do not allow your crotch to get damp or be sitting in dirty underwear. This is especially crucial if you live in a hot climate, sweat excessively, or have just exercised. Carry a clean pair of panties in your purse so you can change at work.
- Learn how to relieve your stress to reduce your vaginal itching. The more you stress out, the worse it will get. So by learning ways to manage your stress, you will directly be managing your vaginal itching too.
- You can apply a cold compress on the vagina to soothe vaginal itching.
Preventing Vaginal Itching
Maintaining your vagina’s pH levels is the main way to prevent vaginal itching. Even if you do not know what a pH level is, learning how to maintain its levels is not rocket science – you simply have to keep your vagina clean and keep it away from irritating substances in harsh soaps, and from unbreathable fabrics like nylon. All those tips mentioned above should be used throughout your life, not just when you experience vaginal itching. Here are a couple of other things you can do to prevent vaginal itching.
- Wax instead of shaving. There will be no vaginal itching with waxing (unless you are allergic to the wax or the waxing strips, or if the salon you visit for waxing is unhygienic). Waxing will also keep the hair off longer. Always ensure that the salon you are patronizing has high standards of cleanliness.
- Do not use colored toilet paper. The dyes used to color the paper can contain chemicals that irritate the skin and cause vaginal itching, along with other vaginal discomfort.
- Wipe from front to back, never the other way around.
- This is important so we’ll repeat it. Do not douche. A healthy vagina does not need to be douched. As stated earlier, douching is one of the causes of vaginal itching, as well as many vaginal infections.
- Always change out of wet or sweaty clothes immediately.
- If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar under control.
- If you are overweight, losing the extra kilos can work wonders in reducing your risk of vaginal itching.
- Eat yogurt that contains live cultures. These are thought to be similar to the good bacteria in the vagina and are recommended to women suffering from vaginitis.