What Is vaginal itching?

Home remedies for vaginal itching include eating yogurt or probiotics, applying yogurt and honey as a topical, over-the-counter medications, suppositories and creams, and dietary changes may help relieve symptoms.
Home remedies for vaginal itching include eating yogurt or probiotics, applying yogurt and honey as a topical, over-the-counter medications, suppositories and creams, and dietary changes may help relieve symptoms.

Vaginal itching — also known as vaginal pruritis — is an unpleasant experience that can be caused by a range of conditions. Itching can be brought on by dryness or irritants found in soap or clothing. It can also be caused by vaginitis — a sexually transmitted infection (STI), bacterial vaginosis, or yeast infection.

There are several home remedies for relieving your itchy symptoms, but choosing an effective remedy depends on the source of your discomfort. Internal discomfort may point to a yeast infection, but external discomfort tends to indicate a skin condition. 

It is very important to consider when you should seek medical attention and monitor any changes or worsening of your symptoms. However, there are home remedies that may help you find relief.

Pruritus is a general term that is defined as persistent itching. Many people experience vaginal pruritus, which is characterized by consistent itchiness of the vulva or vagina. Symptoms include itchiness, dryness, and irritation.

Potential causes of vaginal itching include {BioMed Research International: “Pruritus in Female Patients.”}:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Infection
  • Contact dermatitis 
  • Insufficient hygiene
  • Prolonged contact with wet swimsuits or workout gear
  • Irritants such as underwear or sanitary pads

Your doctor can determine the cause of vaginal itching through a physical examination, analysis of symptoms, and lab tests. Depending on the cause, your doctor may prescribe medication or lifestyle changes.

Depending on the symptoms and cause of vaginal itching, there are remedies you can try at home to resolve your symptoms. 

Home remedies for vaginal itching

Avoiding irritants

Basic care for vaginal itching often includes avoiding possible triggers and irritants for dermatitis and inflammation. Potential triggers that should be avoided include:

  • Fragrances
  • Cleaning products — especially those with parabens and dyes
  • Latex condoms
  • Synthetic lubricant
  • Tight or constrictive clothing
  • Shaving pubic area

Treatment plans suggest using only a breathable moisturizing oil externally and wearing light, cotton underwear.

Eating yogurt or probiotics

Research shows that maintaining healthy PH and bacterial levels within the vagina can reduce and prevent vaginal itching {BioMed Research International: “Pruritus in Female Patients.”}. When ingested, yogurt or probiotic supplements that contain the correct cultures can help repopulate the vagina with healthy bacteria. As such, yogurt can help prevent infection and reduce symptoms of vaginal itching.

Applying honey and yogurt as a natural remedy

For some people, using sugar-free yogurt as a soothing remedy has been an effective treatment for vaginal itching, especially itching caused by infection. 

When mixed with honey, yogurt provided soothing relief as a topical home remedy for yeast infections. This calming remedy proved not only to be effective in combating vaginal itching, many people found it more successful than over-the-counter creams in reducing itching and preventing infection.

Treatment for infection

If your vaginal itching is being caused by an infection, home remedies like boric acid can help alleviate symptoms and cure vaginitis when applied internally. Exercise caution: some people experience burning with the use of boric acid.

Over-the-counter suppositories and creams can also be used to relieve symptoms and resolve infection. Research shows that around 80% of yeast infections are cured by the course of treatment available at most drug stores. Non-prescription medication for vaginal infections may help relieve vaginal itching caused by vaginitis.

Dietary changes

Vaginal itching may be aggravated by the foods you eat. Changing your diet may help reduce symptoms and fight infection. Dietary changes to make include:

  • Avoiding sugar 
  • Avoiding yeasty foods like bread
  • Not eating cheese 
  • Avoiding fruit
  • Not drinking alcohol
  • Eating more vegetables and leafy greens
  • Increasing intake of rice and wheat
  • Eating a half-cup of unsweetened yogurt daily for probiotics

Always consult a medical professional before making changes to your diet and monitor any changes in your symptoms.

QUESTION

The vagina includes the labia, clitoris, and uterus. See Answer

Risks and outlook

Many causes of vaginal itching can be treated with home remedies; however, it is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing any severe symptoms such as:

  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • Pain or burning during sex
  • Noticeable redness or swelling
  • Blisters
  • Unusual discharge
  • Odor
  • Severe itching or pain

Remember to consult with your doctor before trying any home remedies or over-the-counter treatments. 

What causes vaginal itching?

Women may experience vaginal itching inside their vagina or their external genitals. The sensation may drive the urge to scratch the area for relief. Short episodes of vaginal itching often resolve without further treatment. 

However, the condition may be a sign of another existing medical problem if it persists or is accompanied by other symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of vaginal itching

Vaginal itching may be accompanied by other symptoms like:

Factors that can contribute to a vaginal environment that causes itching and other related symptoms include:

  • Not maintaining good hygiene
  • An imbalance in the vaginal pH
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Douching frequently
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Having a foreign body embedded in the vagina

The severity of the symptoms that accompany vaginal itching can vary depending on the underlying cause. You may wish to make an appointment with a doctor if your symptoms do not resolve within a few weeks. 

Causes of vaginal itching

The reason why you may be experiencing vaginal itching can be affected by factors like your age. Below are some common reasons that women find themselves experiencing vaginal itching.  

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a form of vaginitis caused by an overproduction of harmful bacteria. It occurs at the same time as a decrease in the bacteria responsible for maintaining a healthy balance in the vaginal environment. 

The condition typically occurs in women between the ages of 15 to 44. African American women are twice as likely to end up with BV than Caucasian women. Other factors that can put you at risk for developing BV include:

While BV can be passed through sexual activity, the condition can also occur in women who are not sexually active. Vaginal itching can be one of the symptoms that women with BV experience. 

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a condition where the skin becomes irritated because of exposure to specific compounds or products. You may find yourself experiencing vaginal itching if you continually expose your vagina to the following items:

  • Laundry detergents
  • Certain body soaps
  • Douches and other feminine products

Sexually transmitted disease

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) typically pass from person to person via sexual contact. It’s also possible to contract an STD through kissing or other kinds of body contact. Sexually transmitted diseases that can have symptoms that include vaginal itching include:

Genital warts — Genital warts are caused by contracting human papillomavirus (HPV). It can lead to symptoms like skin warts along with itching around the vagina. People can also contract HPV through oral sex.

Herpes — Herpes is a viral infection that can lead to sores and blisters in the genital area. It can also spread to other body parts like the eyes and brain. Recurrent vaginal itching can be a sign of a herpes infection. A doctor may be able to prescribe medication that can alleviate your symptoms.

Gonorrhea — Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can lead to serious damage to a woman’s reproductive organs. It’s caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria and is typically passed through some form of sexual interaction. You can also contract gonorrhea by contacting bodily fluids containing the bacteria. 

Chlamydia — Chlamydia can be passed from person to person through sexual contact. While the condition usually does not cause visible symptoms, women can experience vaginal itching because of a chlamydia infection. 

Pubic Lice — Pubic lice, often referred to as crabs, can get into the hairs of the genital area. The organisms can also be passed by using objects infested with public lice like clothing, bedding, or towels. Pubic lice can spread to other areas of the body, like your eyelashes. Along with vaginal itching, you might also notice the appearance of bite marks in that area.

Diagnosis and tests for vaginal itching

Doctors typically start by asking questions about your vaginal itching and any accompanying symptoms. They will likely also want information about your past medical history, including any past or current STDs. From there, they usually conduct a physical exam of your vagina and genital area. 

If there is discharge present, the doctor may decide to take a sample and examine it for signs of various microorganisms. They usually send that sample for laboratory testing to look for signs of a possible STD. 

Treatments for vaginal itching

Your doctor may recommend that you use certain prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve the symptoms. Some lifestyle changes they may suggest to alleviate your vaginal itching can include:

  • Showering once per day
  • Changing your underwear more frequently
  • Using an unscented body powder with cornstarch to help keep the vaginal area dry
  • Avoiding talc-based body powders
  • Washing with a nonallergenic soap or only warm water
  • Not using creams, douches, or feminine hygiene sprays

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Medically Reviewed on 3/1/2022
References
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Annals of Internal Medicine: "Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis."

BioMed Research International: "Pruritus in Female Patients."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Chlamydia."

Deutsches A¨rzteblatt International: "Vulvar Pruritus—Causes, Diagnosis and Therapeutic Approach."

Ginekologia Polska: "The role of diet and probiotics in prevention and treatment of bacterial vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis in adolescent girls and non-pregnant women."

Global Journal of Health Science: "The Comparison of Vaginal Cream of Mixing Yogurt, Honey and Clotrimazole on Symptoms of Vaginal Candidiasis."

Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Vaginitis: Making Sense of Over-the-Counter Treatment Options."

Journal of the National Medical Association: "Yogurt: still a favorite for vaginal candidiasis?"

Merck Manual: "Genital Itching."

Merck Manual: "Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Infections."

Merck Manual: "Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection."

Merck Manual: "Lice Infestation."

Merck Manual: "Vaginal Itching and Discharge."

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: "Common complementary and alternative therapies for yeast vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis: a systematic review."

Office on Women's Health: "Bacterial Vaginosis."

Office on Women's Health: "Gonorrhea."

Sidahora "[Natural remedies for vaginal infections]."

Trials: "BASIC study: is intravaginal boric acid non-inferior to metronidazole in symptomatic bacterial vaginosis? Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial."

University of Iowa Healthcare: "Contact dermatitis of the vulva."