Why is my vagina itchy?
Vaginal itching can be an extremely uncomfortable symptom that can severely impact your day-to-day life. It can be caused by a wide range of factors, from external irritants to sexually transmitted infections. In this blog we discuss the potential causes of vaginal itchiness and explain what you should do if you notice the symptoms.
Causes of an itchy vagina
There are many potential causes of vaginal itching. In this section we’ll discuss the most common.
Vaginal itchiness or irritation may be caused by something simple such as the soap or shampoo that you use. Many scented soaps can cause a reaction if used in the genital area so it’s worth opting for a product that is more gentle on the skin. You may also have a reaction if you don’t properly rinse the area after use. Some common external irritants may include: –
- Shower gels and soap
- Shaving gel
- Hair removal cream
- Spermicidal lubricants
- Fabric conditioner or detergents
- Bubble bath
- Latex condoms if you are allergic
Sexually Transmitted Infections
There are a number of sexually transmitted infections that can cause itchiness affecting the vagina and the area around the vagina. The itching sensation may vary depending on the STD that you have and it will usually be very intense and may also cause a burning sensation. Some STDs that can cause itchiness include:
The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to take a test. If you’ve eliminated many other causes of the itchiness then you should take an STD test as a precaution.
One of the most common causes of discomfort and itchiness around the vaginal area and vulva is a yeast infection, also known as thrush. The fungus candida albicans is responsible for most vaginal yeast infections. A yeast infection occurs when the natural mix of yeast and bacteria become imbalanced causing an overgrowth of the yeast. It may occur due to a number of factors, including pregnancy, antibiotic use or as a side effect to contraception. It affects 3 out of 4 women in their lifetime and is easily treated.
Common skin diseases
Many common skin conditions, such as eczema, contact dermatitis, or psoriasis can affect the skin around the vagina causing intense and uncomfortable vaginal itching. This will usually occur in women who are already affected by skin disorders with the symptoms appearing in much the same way as they do in other parts of the body. You should always check with your GP before using skin medications on the skin around the vagina due to its sensitive nature and you should never use steroid based treatments on this area.
Psoriasis can often be confused with sexually transmitted infections. To find out more, read one of our recent blogs: Is My Itchy Skin an STD or Genital Psoriasis?
Bacterial vaginosis, also known as BV, is a condition triggered by an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria that naturally occur in the vagina. The condition doesn’t always cause symptoms, but if it does then you may experience vaginal itching alongside an unusually smelly discharge that is foamy or grey in colour. To find out how infections change your discharge, read our recent blog: How do different STDs affect your vaginal discharge?
What to do if you believe you have an STD?
If you believe that your vaginal itching may be caused by a sexually transmitted infection then you should take an STD test to know for sure. Many STDs could be the potential cause of vaginal itching, so it’s worth testing for a number of infections that could cause it.
Your Sexual Health have a wide range of private STD tests, that can test for a number of infections including our Urine Profile which diagnoses chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, syphilis, ureaplasma and trichomonas.
Many of the sexually transmitted infections that cause vaginal itching are easily treated using antibiotics, with the exception of herpes. The soreness and itchiness experienced by herpes can still be treated with a topical skin cream to reduce the inflammation, but you will never completely be free from herpes and may have flare ups in future. To find out more, read our recent blogs: Is Herpes Curable?
How to treat other causes of vaginal itchiness?
If you have vaginal itchiness that is so uncomfortable that it is having a significant negative impact on your day-to-day life, you should arrange an appointment with your GP to discuss the potential causes. Of course the treatment will depend on the cause of the itchiness, but we’ve outlined how you can address the symptoms below: –
Thrush or yeast infection can usually be treated using antifungal creams or lotions. These may be prescribed through your GP or you may find over the counter treatments available from your local pharmacist to be just as effective.
Itchiness caused by an external irritant can usually be treated by no longer using the product causing it. If you stop using a suspected irritant, for example a soap, and symptoms persist then there may be another cause.
Skin conditions such as eczema that cause vaginal itchiness will usually be treated in the same way that you treat the condition in other areas of the body. You should always check with your GP before applying any topical creams to the vaginal area as the skin may be too sensitive and could potentially cause other side effects.
BV will usually be treated through the use of antibiotics if it is causing vaginal irritation. Bacterial vaginosis in itself may not always require treatment if there are no symptoms present.