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Vaginal Itching: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Cost

Last Updated: Jul 07, 2023

What is Vaginal Itching?

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Vaginal itching is a condition characterized by an uncomfortable or irritating sensation in the vaginal area. Other symptoms including burning, redness, and pain may also be present. There are many different things that might make your vagina itch, and there are many different ways to address it.

Types of Vaginal Itching

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Vaginal itching can be classified as acute, chronic, intermittent, or severe based on the duration and intensity of the symptoms. There are several types of vaginal itching, including:

Acute vaginal itching

This is a short-term condition that lasts for a few days or weeks. It can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription drugs and is typically brought on by an inflammation or infection.

Chronic vaginal itching

This is a long-term condition that lasts for more than four weeks. Numerous things, including vaginal infections, allergies, or hormonal changes, can contribute to it. It may require more extensive treatment and management.

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Intermittent vaginal itching

This type of vaginal itching occurs periodically, that is, it comes and goes. It can be caused by a variety of factors such as vaginal infections, allergies, or hormonal changes.

Severe vaginal itching

This type of vaginal itching is intense and persistent. It can be caused by a variety of factors such as vaginal infections, allergies, or underlying medical conditions. It may require more extensive treatment and management.

What causes Vaginal Itching?

Vaginal itching can be caused by a variety of factors including, vaginal infections, irritants, allergies, hormonal changes and medical conditions;

  • Vaginal infections such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are common causes of vaginal itching
  • Yeast infections occur when the fungus Candida albicans overgrows in the vagina, causing itching, burning, and discharge
  • Itching, burning, and discharge are further symptoms of the infection known as bacterial vaginosis, which is brought on by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina.

Irritants

  • Vaginal itching can be brought on by soaps, detergents, fragrances, and other irritants
  • Douching, using bubble baths, or using scented tampons or pads can also cause irritation
  • To prevent irritation, it is important to use mild, unscented products and avoid douching

Allergies

  • Allergic reactions to condoms, lubricants, or other products can cause vaginal itching
  • To prevent allergic reactions, it is important to use hypoallergenic products and to test new products on a small area of skin before using them in the vaginal area

Hormonal Changes

  • Hormonal changes that occur during menopause, pregnancy, or during certain phases of the menstrual cycle can cause vaginal dryness and itching
  • Reduced estrogen levels brought on by hormonal changes might also result in vaginal dryness and irritation
  • Vaginal moisturizers or estrogen creams may be used to alleviate symptoms of vaginal dryness

Medical conditions

  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, eczema, or lichen planus can cause vaginal itching
  • These conditions may require treatment by a specialist and may involve a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and management of underlying medical conditions

It is important to visit a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment as some symptoms may be similar to other conditions such as sexually transmitted infections.

Oral antibiotics or over-the-counter or prescription antifungal lotions can be used to treat these infections.

What are the symptoms of Vaginal Itching?

Symptoms of vaginal itching may include:

  • Itching or burning sensation in the vaginal area
  • Redness, soreness, or swelling of the vulva
  • Vaginal discharge, which may be white or yellow in color
  • Painful urination or intercourse
  • Vaginal itching after sex, oral sex, or during periods or pregnancy.

What are the Risk Factors of Vaginal Itching?

Risk factors for vaginal itching may include;

  • Being female
  • Being sexually active
  • Using specific birth control methods, such as spermicides or diaphragms
  • Compromised immunity
  • Having a medical history of vaginal infections
  • Having diabetes or other medical conditions that affect the immune system

How can you prevent Vaginal Itching?

To prevent vaginal itching, you can;

Do

  • Keep the vaginal area clean by washing with mild soap and water
  • Wear breathable clothing and avoid tight-fitting pants or pantyhose
  • As soon as you can, change out of your wet clothes, such as your swimsuit or your gym attire
  • Use fabric softener and mild, unscented laundry detergent
  • Use a water-based lubricant during intercourse

Don’t

  • Douche or use vaginal deodorants
  • Use harsh soaps or bubble baths
  • Use scented feminine products, such as pads or tampons
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing or synthetic fabrics
  • Smoke or consume excessive alcohol

Vaginal Itching - Diagnosis and Tests

To diagnose vaginal itching, a doctor may perform the following;

Physical Examination

During a physical examination, the doctor will examine the vaginal area for signs of itching, redness, swelling, or discharge

This may involve a visual examination of the vulva and a gentle touch examination of the vaginal walls

Medical History

The doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms, medical history, and any medications or products they are currently using

This information will help the doctor determine the cause of the itching and the best course of treatment

Pelvic Examination

A pelvic examination may be performed to check for any abnormalities or signs of infection in the vaginal area.

During a pelvic examination, the doctor will use a speculum to visualize the inside of the vagina and cervix, and may also perform a bimanual examination to check for any abnormalities in the pelvic organs.

Laboratory tests

  • The doctor may perform laboratory tests such as a wet mount, culture, or PCR test to determine the cause of the itching
  • Wet mount test involves taking a sample of vaginal discharge and examining it under a microscope to identify the presence of bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms that may be causing the itching
  • Culture test involves growing a sample of vaginal discharge in a laboratory to identify the type of microorganism causing the infection
  • The genetic makeup of particular microorganisms that may be the source of the infection is found via PCR testing.

Testing for STIs

If the doctor suspects that an STI may be causing the itching, they may perform additional tests such as a blood test or swab test to check for the presence of STIs

These tests may include testing for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, etc

It is important to visit a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment as some symptoms may be similar to other conditions such as vaginal infections.

What are possible complications of Vaginal Itching?

Complications of vaginal itching may include:

  • Increased risk of vaginal infections
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Psychological
  • Distress or anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Vaginal scarring or damage to the vulva
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Secondary skin infections.

Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching?

A number of natural therapies can potentially assist to reduce the symptoms of vaginal itching. These include;

  • Applying a cold compress or a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water to the affected area
  • Taking a warm bath while consuming a cup of oats or baking soda
  • Wearing cotton fabric underwear
  • Avoiding tight-fitting pants or pantyhose
  • Avoiding irritants such as scented soaps, bubble baths, and perfumes
  • Avoiding douching
  • Using a vaginal moisturizer, if you have vaginal dryness.

What to eat in Vaginal Itching?

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help to promote overall vaginal health and reduce the risk of vaginal itching. Some foods that may be particularly beneficial include:

  • Yogurt, which contains probiotics that may help to prevent yeast infections
  • Garlic, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties
  • Cranberries, which may help to prevent urinary tract infections
  • Almonds, a high source of vitamin E and a potential vaginal health food
  • Leafy greens, which are high in antioxidants and may help to reduce inflammation

What not to eat in Vaginal Itching?

Certain foods may aggravate vaginal itching and should be avoided. These include:

  • Sugar and refined carbohydrates, which can promote the growth of yeast
  • Caffeine and alcohol both have hydrating effects on the body
  • Spicy foods, which can cause irritation
  • Artificial sweeteners, which can cause allergic reactions
  • Processed foods, which may contain irritant-causing additives, preservatives, and other chemicals.

Vaginal Itching Treatments

The underlying source of the symptoms will determine the best course of treatment for vaginal itching. The following are some common treatment options for vaginal itching;

  • Over-the-counter or prescription antifungal creams or oral antifungal medications for yeast infections
  • Over-the-counter or prescription antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis
  • Topical or oral steroid creams for allergic reactions or eczema
  • Vaginal estrogen creams or suppositories for vaginal dryness caused by hormonal changes or menopause
  • Medications to treat underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or lichen planus

Treatment options for vaginal itching vary depending on the underlying cause of the symptoms, and may include antifungal or antibiotic medications, steroid creams, estrogen creams, or medications to treat underlying medical conditions.

Which doctor to consult for Vaginal Itching?

A primary care physician, gynecologist or a general practitioner can diagnose and treat vaginal itching.

A dermatologist or immunologist may also be consulted if the itching is caused by an underlying medical condition such as eczema or lichen planus.

Which are the best medicines for Vaginal Itching?

The underlying source of the symptoms will determine the appropriate treatment for vaginal itching.

Common medications for vaginal itching include antifungal creams or oral antifungal medications for yeast infections, antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis, steroid creams for allergic reactions or eczema, and vaginal estrogen creams or suppositories for vaginal dryness.

How long does it take to recover from Vaginal Itching?

The underlying reason for the itching and the chosen method of therapy will determine how long recovery will take.

Some types of vaginal infections may clear up within a few days with treatment, while others may take several weeks.

In order to alleviate symptoms, vaginal dryness brought on by hormonal fluctuations may require continual care.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of treatment for vaginal itching may be permanent if the underlying cause is resolved. But occasionally, the condition can come back, necessitating continuing care.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

Most women who experience vaginal itching are eligible for treatment. However, some diseases or drugs may make some therapies contraindicated.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Some treatments may not be available to women who are pregnant or nursing. Additionally, women who are allergic to certain medications may not be able to take them.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Following vaginal itching therapy, it's crucial to;

  • Comply with your doctor's recommendations
  • Avoid irritants and use mild, unscented products
  • Practice good hygiene and keep the vaginal area clean
  • Wear breathable clothing and avoid tight-fitting pants or pantyhose
  • Use a water-based lubricant during intercourse, if necessary
  • Maintain a healthy weight by adhering to a nutritious diet
  • Avoid using tobacco and drinking too much alcohol
  • Follow up with the doctor as advised for monitoring the recovery

What is the price of Vaginal Itching treatments in India?

The cost of treatment for vaginal itching in India may vary depending on the underlying cause and the type of treatment required. Antifungal creams and vaginal estrogen creams are generally affordable, while oral medications may be more expensive. Consultation fees and laboratory tests may also add to the overall cost.

What are side-effects of Vaginal Itching treatments?

Side-effects of vaginal itching treatments may include:

  • Vaginal burning or irritation
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea

Vaginal Itching - Outlook / Prognosis

The outlook for vaginal itching is generally good, as most cases can be effectively treated with medication and lifestyle changes. But occasionally, the condition can come back, necessitating continuing care.

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Written ByDr. Sunita Singh MBBS,MS Obstetrics & GynaecologyGynaecology
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