Although vaginal itching is the hallmark of yeast infections and other vaginal infections (including sexually transmitted diseases [STDs]), itching in the vagina and vulvar areas has multiple causes. Vaginal itching can also arise due to chemical irritants that may be found in detergents or soaps, douches and vaginal creams, toilet paper, bath products, feminine hygiene products, and vaginal contraceptive products.
Women in the menopausal transition may experience vaginal itching due to fluctuations in estrogen levels. As estrogen levels decline in the perimenopause, the vaginal wall becomes thinner and drier, and itching may result.
Some studies have shown a link between psychological stress and vaginal yeast infections. This is likely due to the fact that stress is known to have a negative effect on the immune system and could possibly increase the likelihood of getting a yeast infection in women and men.
Related Symptoms & Signs
Other causes of vaginal itching
- Chemical Irritants
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
12 Preventable STDs: Pictures, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and genital herpes are common STDs. Think you might have an STD? You’re not alone....
Picture of Vagina
The vagina is an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that provides lubrication and sensation. See a picture of...
STD Quiz: Symptoms, Testing & List
There are more sexually transmitted diseases than just the ones you've heard of. Find out what you've been missing with the STD...
Yeast Infection Quiz: Symptoms & Treatment
How much do you know about vaginal yeast infections? Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of a yeast infection with the...
Causes of Vaginal Itching
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal vaginal condition with signs and symptoms of vaginal discharge, vaginal odor, and vaginal pain. It results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina.
Can Bacterial Vaginosis Clear Up on Its Own?
Learn what medical treatments can ease your bacterial vaginosis symptoms and help you manage this condition.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. Signs and symptoms of chlamydia, a bacterial infection, include vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, burning with urination, blood in the urine, and feelings of urinary urgency and frequency. Untreated chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Chlamydia is diagnosed with a culture or by identification of the genetic material of the bacteria. Treatment of chlamydia consists of a course of antibiotics.
Genital Warts (HPV) Infection in Women
Genital warts is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts look like raised, flesh-colored lumps. Learn about symptoms, transmission, and treatment.
Gonorrhea In Women
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection transmitted during sexual contact. In women, symptoms include a yellow vaginal discharge, burning or frequent urination, and redness, swelling, burning, and itching of the vaginal area. Gonorrhea can be treated with injectable (penicillin) or oral medications.
How Can I Treat Vaginitis at Home?
What Is Vaginitis? Learn whether you need antibiotics and what other treatments can help to relieve your symptoms.
How Do You Get Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is a common issue that affects many women. Learn the signs of bacterial vaginosis, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
How Long Does it Take for a Vaginal Suppository to Absorb?
Vaginal suppositories take between 15 and 30 minutes to dissolve and get absorbed into the body. The absorption of a vaginal suppository depends on several factors, including the type of suppository, active ingredient, pH and moisture level of the vaginal environment, and the size and shape of the suppository. The time for the absorption process of a vaginal suppository to complete can vary widely and is difficult to determine.
How Many Days Before a Period Do You Get Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a normal part of a woman's menstrual cycle. Learn about vaginal discharge before a period, how many days you get discharge before your period, signs and causes of vaginal discharge, and when to see a doctor if there's a problem. Vaginal discharge is the fluid secreted from the uterus, cervix (neck of the uterus) and vagina. A thick yellow vaginal discharge may point to vaginitis (infection of the vagina).
Innie vs. Outie Vagina: Which Is More Common?
Both innie and outie vaginas are equally common, although some studies suggest that over 50% of women have outies. Both are normal.
Is a Yeast Infection Contagious?
Yeast is a fungus that has many types. A type of yeast that can cause infection in humans is called Candida. Candida can infect the mouth, vagina, penis, or other areas of the body. Symptoms of yeast infections depend on the area infected, however, may include itching, bumps on the skin, a reddish rash, or patches of skin that ooze a clear or yellow liquid. Most yeast infections are not contagious even though they are caused by a fungus.
Is It Normal to Have Discharge After Sex?
What is vaginal discharge? Learn the signs of vaginal discharge and what to do if you experience it.
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching including infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause symptoms and signs include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and emotional symptoms such as mood swings. Treatment of menopausal symptoms varies and should be discussed with your physician.
Pinworms in Children and Adults
Pinworm infection is an intestinal infection caused by a pinworm, seatworm, or threadworm. Female pinworms leave the intestine through the ankus and deposit eggs on the skin around the anus while a person is asleep. Pinworm infection is the most common worm infection in the U.S. Symptoms include anal itching or vaginal itching. Pinworm infection is generally spread by inadequate handwashing from infected persons. Treatment is effective after a diagnosis is made with a pinworm test.
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales. There are several types of psoriasis, including psoriasis vulgaris, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis. Symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis the patient has. Treatment of psoriasis may include creams, lotions, oral medications, injections and infusions of biologics, and light therapy. There is no cure for psoriasis.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in women include gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, and HPV infection (genital warts). Learn about types, symptoms, and treatment.
Vaginal Pain (Vulvodynia)
Vulvodynia or vaginal pain, genital pain is a condition in which women have chronic vulvar pain with no known cause. There are two types of vulvodynia, generalized vulvodynia, and vulvar vestibulitis. Researchers are trying to find the causes of vulvodynia, for example, nerve irritation, genetic factors, hypersensitivity to yeast infections, muscle spasms, and hormonal changes. The most common symptoms of vaginal pain (vulvodynia) are burning, rawness, itching, stinging, aching, soreness, and throbbing. There are a variety of treatments that can ease the symptoms of vulvodynia (vaginal pain).
Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal pain with urination, vaginal discharge, odor, and itching. Treatment is generally OTC medications. A man can contract a yeast infection from his female sexual partner. Symptoms of a yeast infection in men include penile itching. Treatment is with oral or topical medication.
Vaginitis (Inflammation of the Vagina)
Vaginitis refers to inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can be caused by infections, menopause, or poor hygiene. Symptoms of vaginitis include vaginal itching, discharge, odor, pain, or discomfort. Treatment for vaginitis depends on the cause. Antibiotics may be necessary for some forms of vaginitis.
What Are the Best Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching?
What Is Vaginal itching? Learn what remedies you can use at home to help to relieve your symptoms. Women may experience vaginal itching inside their vagina or on their external genitals. Some causes include bacterial vaginosis, contact dermatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
What Are the Signs of Atrophic Vaginitis?
Atrophic vaginitis is a medical condition where the walls of the vagina become thinner, dryer, and inflamed. Learn more about atrophic vaginitis, its symptoms, and potential treatments for atrophic vaginitis.
What Is Genital Herpes in Women?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Symptoms of genital herpes include painful blisters and often fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes for the first outbreak. Genital herpes is diagnosed with lab tests to test for the presence of the virus. Treatment for genital herpes includes antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the outbreak or reduce the risk of future outbreaks. There is no cure for genital herpes. Condoms may help prevent the spread of genital herpes.
Yeast Infection vs. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) both cause vaginal discharge. Yeast infection discharge is thick, white, and had a cottage cheese consistency. BV discharge is whitish-gray and is thinner. Vaginal odor, irritation, and pain may also be present. Treatment of yeast infections includes over-the-counter and prescription antifungals. BV treatment involves antibiotics.
Yeast infections vs. STDs in Men and Women
STDs, also termed sexually transmitted diseases, are infections that are mainly transmitted to others during direct sexual contact. A yeast infection is the invasion and multiplication of a fungus (yeast) in or on the body.
Examples of Medications for Vaginal Itching
- clotrimazole, Lotrimin AF, Gyne-Lotrimin, Alevazol, Desenex, Pro-Ex Antifungal
- Metrogel (metronidazole) Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions
- metronidazole topical
- miconazole, Monistat, M-Zole, Micatin
- nystatin (oral tablet and capsule)
- pramoxine (Itch-X, PrameGel, Orax, Sarna Sensitive, and Others)
- Solosec (secnidazole)
- terconazole (Terazol, Zazole)
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter