Itchiness anywhere in body can cause significant distress, more so when it is over the genital region. The vagina is actually a complex maze of various ‘good bacteria’ in an acidic environment to prevent external sources of infection. However, sometimes this balance of bacteria can get upset with the act of douching, which is basically washing the inside of the vagina, leading to the manifestation of vaginal complaints.
Is vaginal itching normal?
Vaginal itching can be normal from shaving irritation or short pubic hair stubs. This is not an uncommon reason for external vaginal itching because for women who regularly shave, the short hair stubs can cause local itching. To avoid this, either choose to stop shaving altogether or shave at regular intervals to prevent these short stubs from forming. It is however, if you notice small bumps over the shaving sites, it might be from folliculitis or infection around the hair follicules and this might warrant a visit to the doctor.
What causes itching in private part of a woman?
Apart from the reason mentioned above that can cause normal vaginal itching, there are a whole host of other possible causes of itching that I will go through further below. They are categorized into itching over the outside of the vagina and also itching over the inside of the vagina. As the causes for each are different, I will go through them separately. First off, let us go through reasons for external vaginal itching.
Where exactly is the itch from vagina arising from?
This can be a difficult question to answer at times because the itch can be difficult to localize. When it arises, think about where you feel the maximum discomfort – is it the region outside the vagina where the skin area is, or is it actually arising from within the vagina? This is important to differentiate as the causes for each are slightly different and the treatment as well. Sometimes they overlap and the itch happens both inside and outside the vagina, which also helps to narrow down the cause for the itchiness.
Why am I itching a lot down there?
There are many definitions of down there, so you have to pin point which location. In this section, I’ll be talking about causes of itching on the outside. This could be over the pubic region, vulva region or the vaginal lips. Many of the causes below do overlap.
What causes itchy vaginal lips?
Vaginal lips have 2 different components – one pair of outer lips and one pair of inner lips. Respectively they are referred to as the labia majora and the labia minora. There can be itch arising for either one or more frequently both locations and here are some of the possible causes.
Irritant contact dermatitis
This is yet another common cause for external vaginal itching, often from lifestyle choices. It is from direct tissue damage following a single exposure or multiple exposures to a known irritant.
In this case, it could be a variety of triggers, ranging from direct application like soaps, feminine washes, shaving cream, perfume sprays to secondary uses like panty materials, toilet paper, local wipes. So think back to any recent changes or additions to your feminine hygiene routine, and one of these causes could actually be triggering it!
Local skin infections
Infections are often suspected if there is concurrent itch both externally and inside the vagina, which will be covered subsequently below. They may include fungal infections like yeast or bacterial infections like bacterial vaginosis. Also apart from the vaginal itchiness, they can often present with vaginal discharge, which tends to spread over the external vaginal region, causing itch externally as well.
So if your vaginal itch is coupled together with vaginal discharge, it is best to seek medical attention to get treatment for both inside and outside the vagina.
Also look out for small bumps over the external vaginal region which can arise from hair follicle infection or folliculitis, which is also another form of skin infection. If left alone for too long and with the persistent scratching, there is the possibility that sometimes folliculitis can progress to pus collections in the vagina or abscesses and those are much more difficult to treat, so it would be prudent to visit a doctor early to get them treated.
Why is my pubic area so itchy at night?
The reasons for itchiness over the pubic area are similar to what was mentioned above for itchy vaginal lips. Apart from considering irritant contact dermatitis and local skin infections, other considerations that are rarer would include conditions like pubic lice.
This refers to crab louse living on the pubic hair around the genital area, which can cause intense itching. Oftentimes, we will look out for reddish spots over skin from lice bites and multiple white dots attached to the pubic hair or crusted appearances.They usually spread through close body contact or sexual contact. To differentiate between the different causes, seek advice from your trusted medical professional, as it would affect the appropriate treatment and outcome.
What causes persistent vulvar itching?
Vulva refers to the entire vaginal external genitalia, consisting of the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris and the opening of the vagina. It can be difficult to differentiate pubic itch from vulvar itch from specifically itch over the vaginal lips. Pinpointing the exact location can be helpful for us to determine the exact cause of it, but most times, it can be the same cause affecting multiple parts of the female genitals.
It the itch lasts much longer than expected, say up to a week or even several weeks or months, you could have a persistent cause for the itching. These could still be any of the causes listed above or it could be something a little more persistent, like eczema or other skin conditions which is further covered below.
Now we are moving onto possible medical causes, eczema or atopic dermatitis can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from irritant contact dermatitis. Often, if the trigger for the contact dermatitis is isolated and removed, the vaginal itchiness does tend to resolve with or without topical medication.
However, for eczema, it tends to have a more prolonged course and can be recurrent, even despite initial resolution. Often if there is history of eczema elsewhere in the body, the likelihood of vaginal eczema is also higher. This should best be monitored with a physician as scratching from eczema can often lead to local skin infections.
Other skin disorders
There are many other reasons for local vaginal itch and irritation and only some of the most common ones are covered above. More rare conditions would include other kinds of skin conditions like psoriasis and lichen planus, which have slightly different appearances and may be suspected if there are other skin issues elsewhere.
Very rarely, vulvar cancer is another cause, which is considered if the local skin irritation does not resolve after treatment of the most common causes and persists. Hence it is important to address the itch and get help from a trusted medical professional before it worsens or gets infected.
What causes internal vaginal itching?
After we have covered the common causes of external vaginal itching above, let us move onto the causes for internal itching. If you are experiencing itch both on the inside and the outside of the vagina, then it could be any of these causes in combination.
For example, if you had a yeast or fungal infection, the vaginal discharge could come out and cause local contact dermatitis over the vulvar region, which would mean you need treatment for both conditions. Clearing the yeast infection may not necessarily mean the rashes or itch on the skin will resolve as well. Get your advice from your doctor if in doubt.
What is causing vaginal itching and white discharge?
Unfortunately the appearance of whitish discharge can be relatively subjective. Some women may perceive their discharge as whitish or yellowish or more often than not, it could be a combination of both, which makes it difficult to identify. It also means that you could have a few concurrent issues listed below that are occurring together and not necessarily in isolation.
This is a common fungal infection that arises sometimes from vaginal douching, as mentioned previously, or the act of washing the inside of the vagina, often with soap or feminine washes. Douching affects the good bacteria in the vagina and can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria and eventual infection.
Yeast often presents prominently with vaginal itch and sticky cheesy vaginal discharge. Treatment involves anti-fungal tablets or pessaries, which are small bullet-shaped medications that are to be inserted into the vagina.
Unlike yeast which is caused by a fungus, bacterial vaginosis is caused by bacteria and produces a greyish watery vaginal discharge consistency with a characteristic ‘fishy smell’. Vaginal itch is not as prominent as in yeast infection but sometimes it could be a mix of both. The treatment for BV involves an oral course of antibiotics.
Even though yeast and BV are both not sexually transmitted diseases, sometimes sexual partners are also treated to prevent recurrence in women. For men, it can present with a slight rash or local irritation or sometimes they do not have symptoms at all.
Sexually transmitted diseases
STDs or STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can similarly present with vaginal itch or sometimes local vaginal pain. This can be difficult to differentiate at times because vaginal itch can often cause scratching and open wounds, resulting in vaginal pain. There is also often associated with yellowish green vaginal discharge that appears almost pus-like and can be malodorous.
The causes can range from trichomoniasis, to gonorrhoea or chlamydia. This needs prompt treatment as the infection can ascend up into the uterus and pelvis and can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Why is my vagina itchy with no discharge?
Vaginal atrophy from menopause
If you are in the appropriate age group to consider this, dryness in vagina after menopause can also often lead to vaginal itch and sometimes a burning discomfort. A speculum examination with a doctor can reveal atrophic vaginitis and it can sometimes turn up in a pap smear result as well. The treatment for this could be as simple as local vaginal lubricants or estrogen pessaries to be inserted into the vagina.
Urinary tract infection
UTI can sometimes present with vaginal itch though less commonly, it is often associated with a burning sensation with passing urine, sometimes frequent urination or pinkish urine. It can be difficult at times to differentiate where the vaginal discomfort is arising from but UTI symptoms are usually associated with the act of urination.
If the skin over the vaginal region is very raw from scratching, sometimes when you urinate it may appear to burn, but it may not necessarily indicate a urinary tract infection. Best to check in with your trusted doctor to localize the cause of your discomfort because the treatment might not work if the reason is not well established.
How do you make it stop itching down there?
Itching over a sensitive region like the vagina can be very distressing. Here are some simple considerations and also some possible early home remedies worth trying out first before seeking medical attention.
Some possible triggers for the itch or worsening factors may be from lifestyle reasons so see if trying out all of these subsequent suggestions will help with reducing the itch. Do avoid wearing tight clothing, daily panty liners, alcohol or baby wipes over the vagina, feminine washes and perfumes. Avoid scratching and also avoid feminine washes, spraying with warm water or frequent washing (more than 3 times a day) as all these can cause the skin to become drier and itchier.
Also consider monitoring your pubic hair removal techniques and whether they may be the triggers for the itch, for instance, plucking or laser treatment may cause discomfort for some women. Remember if you shave your pubic hair regularly, make sure there are no short stubs as that could easily have caused the itch and can be rectified quickly and simply.
What are some home remedies for itching in private parts of female?
Some home remedies to consider to see if it helps the itching would be to consciously use cotton underwear, cotton toilet paper that is gentle on the skin. I would generally not recommend over the counter vaginal anti-itch cream as those can sometimes potentially worsen the condition (depending on what it is) or it could cause local skin reactions for women with sensitive skin.
You could try a sitz bath, which is a warm shallow bath used to clean the genital region and relieve any discomfort from itching or sometimes even pain. It involves filling a basin (big enough for you to sit in) with warm water and about 2 or more tablespoons of just table salt, then soak your perineum by sitting inside for 15-20 minutes. This can help with the itching and may sometimes even help reduce the size of your hair follicle and assist with preventing folliculitis.
Other suggestions that are relatively easy to do at home is also to regularly take probiotics to help promote vaginal health and improve the vaginal bacterial environment. This may help to stop or prevent yeast or bacterial vaginosis infections.
What is the best medicine for feminine itch?
This largely depends on the cause of the feminine itch, which at the end of the day, needs to be addressed, since itchiness is the symptom of an underlying problem. If we suspect a fungal infection then anti-fungal creams would be the best medicine.
Otherwise if we suspect vaginal eczema or irritant contact dermatitis, then we would treat it with steroid creams. Sometimes, a cream with a combination of the above might help to fix the itch.
There are some steroid creams available over the counter which might include hydrocortisone. I generally would not recommend using these before consulting a doctor. This is a weaker form of steroid, if you apply it over an area with fungal infection, it will drastically worsen the infection. On the other hand, if it was truly eczema or contact dermatitis, the steroid component in hydrocortisone might briefly relieve the itch but it would not be sufficient to get the condition treated fully and properly. It would be best to seek advice from a doctor to get the problem fixed.
Which cream is best for itching in private parts?
Like what I mentioned above, avoid over the counter anti-itch cream as some women can develop sensitivity to the components, especially if you have not determined the cause for the itch.
You could try buying anti fungal cream over the counter and try to self-medicate as these are relatively safe. If you truly do have a fungal infection over the skin, it will resolve well within the week. Do note that if it was triggered by a yeast infection, then you would not have completely solved the problem as the discharge and infection will cause skin irritation again. This will also definitely not fix the vaginal discharge problem
If it is not improving, then it is also unlikely to be a fungal infection and would need further medical attention, it could be a local skin condition or other infections or any of the multiple causes mentioned above.
How to stop itching down there immediately?
Try the home remedies above including the sitz bath. Oral anti-histamine medications may also help to relieve the itch quickly. Most importantly is to treat the cause. Sometimes steroid creams may be included inside the initial treatment to stop the itching immediately and slowly tapered off and stopped, while still maintaining any anti-infection treatment. However, do not attempt to use steroid creams on your own and get medical advice first or you could unwittingly worsen an infectious condition.
How to stop itching down there at night?
Itch is always more prominent at night when there are no distractions. Try out some of the home remedies suggested above. Also consider placing a towel wrapped around ice packs on the vulva to see if it temporarily relieves the itch. Do note NOT to keep washing the vagina with warm water, because even though it temporarily relieves the itch, it worsens the condition (no matter what the cause) and increases the risk of irritant contact dermatitis. Quickly get it treated with a trusted doctor so that you can sleep at night!
When to seek help for itchiness in the vagina region?
Some basic home remedies to help initially when it first starts would probably help rule out the causes like shaving irritation or irritant contact dermatitis – localize any possible likely trigger and remove it. Try out some of the home remedy suggestions above but do not wait for resolution for too long. If it persists, best to consult a doctor to make sure it is not any of the other causes.
If you experience any of these or are in any doubt at all, do look for help:
- Persistent itch for more than 1-2 weeks
- Unbearable itch resulting in a lot scratching
- Vaginal itch arising both on the outside and the inside
- Association with vaginal discharge
- Suspected sexually transmitted diseases
- Urinary symptoms come together with itch
Conclusion of Vaginal Itch
We have covered the basics of what are some common causes of vaginal itch, both externally and internally. If your symptoms have been bothering you for a while, especially causing you to lose sleep at night, do seek out medical attention to get it treated.
If you have any specific questions related to Women’s Health, do drop by Paddington Medical Clinic to visit our lady doctor, Dr Zhang Huipei for a consultation. Also remember to protect yourself with regular pap smear screening and relevant cervical cancer vaccinations where appropriate.
If you would like to learn more in depth about the right tests for yourself and also feel more comfortable with a female doctor, do head down to Paddington Medical Clinic to see Dr Zhang Huipei and ask any questions that you may have or book an appointment down below here. Also feel free to Whatsapp us to book an appointment for you.
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