Vaginal itching is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptom that often occurs due to irritating substances, infections, or menopause. It may also occur as a result of certain skin disorders or sexually transmitted diseases STDs. In rare cases, vaginal itching might develop due to stress or vulvar cancer. Your doctor can determine the cause of your vaginal itching through an examination and testing. Exposing the vagina to irritating chemicals can cause vaginal itching.
Send securely. Genital psoriasis. The odour will be different compared to when still having periods. Published twice a year, the Jean Hailes Magazine features up to date women's health Health itch vagina that is easy to understand, expertly written and evidence based. But she also notes that only about one-third of women who experience itching and irritation truly Halth have a yeast infection. The area may look red or discolored.
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But she also notes that only about one-third of women who experience itching and irritation truly do have a yeast infection. They kill off the yeast, which soothes the itch. What makes things worse Health itch vagina Moile web xxx porn adult you don't know why it's happening. Read this next. Many people believe that adding apple cider vinegar to your bath can soothe a yeast infection. It is characterized by severe itching Health itch vagina is usually worse at night. Probiotic supplements. Shop Now. There could be a lot of reasons that your vulva, or vaginal lips, are itchy and swollen, but you have vagnia discharge. It can also cause discomfort during vagiha or masturbation. Well, guess what: Irch same thing can happen to your vagina. While this form of cancer is rare, vaginal itching is a common symptom.
Vaginal itching and irritation are usually characterized by a tingling, stinging or burning sensation of the external skin surrounding the vaginal area.
- Feminine itching can be an embarrassing and often distressing symptom that sometimes doesn't go away by simply practicing good feminine hygiene.
- When vaginal itch strikes, you may assume that you have a yeast infection.
- Vaginal itch during your period is a common experience.
- What makes things worse is that you don't know why it's happening.
Vulva is the general name given to the external parts of the female genitals. All women have vaginal discharge or secretions which help to keep the vulva and vagina moist and remove bacteria and dead cells. If your vulva feels irritated, however, it is important to seek advice from your doctor as to what might be causing the irritation. There are many treatments available for vulva and vaginal irritation. Each woman's vulva is unique in size and appearance including differences between the right and left labia.
There is also variation in the size, shape and length. These differences and variations are normal. If you don't know what your vulva looks like, it is a good idea to use a mirror so you can look and become familiar with what is normal for you. It is then easier to detect any changes in appearance, such as changes in colour, bumps, thickening or thinning of the skin or dry, cracked skin.
Vulval irritation and vulvitis inflammation are common terms used to describe the irritation. Sometimes part of the vulva, or sometimes the entire vulva, has some of the following:. Sometimes there is a cycle of itch, scratch, skin tearing or splitting and then a secondary infection. Many women are embarrassed to discuss their problem and symptoms can occur for many years before seeking help. Investigations such as blood tests, urine tests, vulval or vaginal swab tests or a vulval biopsy may be necessary.
The treatment of vulval irritation will depend on the cause and your doctor will help you decide which is the right treatment. All women have vaginal discharge or secretions which help to keep the vagina and vulva moist and remove bacteria and dead cells. Normal secretions vary throughout the menstrual cycle, from thin and slippery during ovulation to thick and white just before your period.
It's common for discharge to be discoloured red or brown a day or two before or after your period. Sometimes women find their vulva and vagina feels dry and lubrication is poor. The hormonal changes at menopause can make the vagina dry and thin. This can make sex painful and it can make insertion of a tampon painful as well.
It is normal for your vulva to have a smell that may vary at different times in your menstrual cycle. There are a number of different fluids and secretions associated with the vulva, including urine, sweat, menstrual blood, skin oils and vaginal and gland secretions all of which can affect the smell.
If the odour is unpleasant, yeasty or fishy smelling this may be a sign of an infection. Other causes of odour may be a sexually transmissible infection STI , a tampon left in the vaginal canal too long or the presence of urine or faeces.
After menopause, odour may change as the normal bacteria also changes. The odour will be different compared to when still having periods. There are many different types of micro-organisms tiny living organisms that are invisible to the naked eye that are found in the vagina. They include bacteria and fungi, however the main types can be generally called 'good bacteria' and 'bad bacteria'.
Healthy vaginas are rich in good bacteria and these friendly micro-organisms help to protect the vagina from infections and keep the populations of bad bacteria in check. An imbalance or overgrowth of bad bacteria and other unfriendly micro-organisms in the vagina can cause symptoms such as vaginal discharge, redness and itch.
It's important to note that not all vulval irritation is due to an imbalance of vaginal bacteria. Your vaginal bacteria is closely connected to the bacteria in your digestive system, and what you eat and digest can affect the health and populations of bacteria in both your gut and your vagina. Live cultured yoghurt and other fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, contain good bacteria as an ingredient.
Eating these foods regularly can help to maintain healthy populations of good bacteria, introducing the right types to your digestive system and your vagina. High sugar foods, soft drinks, too much alcohol and too many refined carbohydrates in your diet such as white breads, biscuits and white pasta can help the bad bacteria to grow and flourish in place of the good. Some women who have thrush, bacterial vaginosis or vulval irritation may benefit from taking a probiotic supplement.
Probiotics can be taken orally as a capsule and contain good bacteria in much higher quantities than what you would get from fermented foods alone. There are many different kinds of probiotic supplements available and research has found that only specific strains of bacteria are effective in treating infections such as BV.
These strains include:. Note: the numbers and letters at the end of each probiotic name are very important and identifies the exact strain of probiotic. As always, inform your health practitioner of any medicines you are taking. Other commonly used natural therapies for vulval and vaginal irritation including special diets, vinegar treatments, tea tree oil and garlic.
There are no high quality clinical research trials on these treatments so it is difficult to say whether these treatments are effective, safe or otherwise. However, it is important to remember that if you are experiencing vulval or vaginal irritation and it isn't getting better, make an appointment with your doctor or qualified health professional. Augmentation of antimicrobial metronidazole therapy of bacterial vaginosis with oral probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial.
Micobes Infect. Effects of probiotics on the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis: a review. J Low Genit Trct Dis. Improved cure of bacterial vaginosis with singledose of tinidazole 2g , Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial.
Can J Microbiol. Last updated 26 September — Last reviewed 24 February This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at February Published twice a year, the Jean Hailes Magazine features up to date women's health information that is easy to understand, expertly written and evidence based.
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Search resources. View all resources Order bulk resources. Back Overview Events Postcards from Search the Jean Hailes website using keywords. On This Page. What is normal? Irritation The skin of the vulva is extremely delicate, making it vulnerable to a wide range of conditions. Rather than try to treat the problem yourself, it is important to see your doctor. In this video Dr Elizabeth Farrell gives some tips for treatment or refer to the table below:.
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Change out of bathers and shower to remove any chlorine or salt from your vulva Avoid wet clothing next to your vulva.
Avoid tight fitting jeans, pants, G-strings, and if you have to wear pantyhose try those with a cotton gusset.
You can make a Data Subject Request at any time. Although lice and their eggs can be seen by the naked eye, threadworms are seen only through microscopic examination. This is important for your vagina and your gut health. Typically, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and take a look at your medical history. As an expectant mom, you already know that your body is going through some major changes. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below.
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Vulva & vaginal irritation | Jean Hailes
Many women have been primed to think no further than "itch equals yeast infection. These conditions aren't getting the medical attention they need — and women aren't getting the relief they deserve. The vulva Latin for womb or covering consists of several layers that cover and protect the sexual organs and urinary opening.
The fleshy outer lips of the vulva — the labia majora — are covered with pubic hair and contain fat that helps cushion the area. The labia minora join at the top to enclose the clitoris. The labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris are made up of erectile tissue, that is, tissue that can become engorged with blood. The area between the labia minora, the vestibule, contains the openings to the urethra and the vagina, as well as the Bartholin's glands, which are located on either side of the vaginal opening and produce lubricant for the vestibule.
The flesh between the vaginal opening and the anus not part of the vulva but often involved in vulvar skin problems is the perineum. This is where the incision called an episiotomy is sometimes made during childbirth. Vulvar skin conditions are highly treatable, but the treatment depends on the specific cause.
And identifying the underlying diagnosis can be very challenging. Tell your clinician about any other past or present medical conditions including bladder and bowel issues and any skin problems elsewhere on your body. For example, psoriasis anywhere on the body raises the risk of a vulvar condition known as lichen sclerosus.
This condition and others are described, below, in "Vulvar conditions and their treatment. A mouth condition called lichen planus is another cause of vulvovaginal problems. The term "lichen," as applied to skin disorders, refers fancifully to skin lesions that resemble lichen on rocks.
Long-term treatment with oral steroids, immune suppressants, or antibiotics can affect vulvar skin and raise the risk infection. Your clinician will want to know how you care for your vulvar skin, which can help identify possible sources of irritation.
Even if you can't pinpoint a change, that doesn't mean your standard routine isn't the culprit. Sometimes vulvar problems are the cumulative effect of long-term practices. It's often what you've done day after day, year after year, that causes the problem. If you wear abrasive clothing and engage in abrasive activities like bicycling or spinning class and wear tight workout clothes that expose your vulva to sweat or to detergent or soap residue, eventually it might catch up with you.
Report all the symptoms that concern you, including itching, burning, soreness, discharge, bumps, and any rashes the vulva. It will also help if you can provide a history of your symptoms and recall what seems to make them better or worse. Your clinician will examine the vulva, perhaps using a magnifying glass, and insert a speculum to inspect the vagina. She or he may test the pH acid-base balance of the vagina and take samples of secretions to examine under the microscope or culture for yeast.
Remember, even if you're seeing an experienced clinician, several visits may be needed to diagnose and improve certain vulvovaginal conditions. When vaginal or vulvar itching occurs, women usually assume it's a yeast infection and treat it with an over-the-counter antifungal cream.
Often this does the trick, but not always. Instead, the cause of the symptoms might be dry skin, a sexually transmitted disease or bacterial infection, a less common strain of yeast that required special medication, or irritation by and allergic reactions to common products such as soaps, creams, and lotions.
If yeast isn't the problem, an antifungal cream isn't the solution. And if your skin is already irritated, you may exacerbate the problem by introducing preservatives such as alcohol or propylene glycol and other ingredients contained in many antifungal remedies.
That's why it's important to see your gynecologist or dermatologist if a problem persists after you've tried a standard antifungal cream. Another common response of women faced with a vaginal discharge or itch is to wash the vulvar skin vigorously, on the assumption that this will disinfect the area or remove irritants.
But aggressive cleansing can add to the irritation. Until the problem is diagnosed, it's best to follow a gentle skin care routine see "Gentle vulvar care".
In fact, gentle cleansing applies whether you have a vulvar skin condition or not: Wash the area gently with your fingertips or a soft cloth and pat dry with a soft towel. Don't use a rough washcloth, and don't rub. If initial treatment hasn't eased your symptoms, the clinician may need to take a small tissue sample biopsy to make a diagnosis.
The procedure, which is minor and done under local anesthesia, can be extremely valuable, often changing the diagnosis and treatment plan. Several vulvar skin conditions are familiar from other areas of the body but may be difficult to recognize when they appear on the vulva. These include the following:. This inflammatory skin condition disrupts the skin's surface, causing red patches and thin cracks, weeping, and crust formation. On the vulva, crusts are less likely, but eczema may initiate a cycle of vulvar itching and scratching that leads to lichen simplex chronicus — thickened and intensely itchy skin.
If eczema affects an area of the vulva called the vestibule, it may cause stinging and burning. Sometimes eczema appears in early childhood and its cause is unknown. Many things can cause an allergic reaction or irritate vulvar skin. Here are some of the leading suspects:.
Stewart, M. To diagnose vulvar eczema, the clinician will ask about your symptoms; your history of eczema, allergy, and related conditions; your vulvar cleansing habits; and any products the vulva has been exposed to. During the exam, she or he will look for redness, scaling, cracking, and thickening.
All eczema requires gentle skin care. In simple cases, patients use topical corticosteroid ointments twice a day for two to four weeks and then gradually reduce the frequency until the symptoms are gone.
Severe cases may require a short course of a potent corticosteroid ointment. During treatment, you must stop scratching, so your clinician may prescribe an antihistamine usually taken at night to prevent daytime drowsiness. A cold pack can also help relieve itching. This is a common condition in which new skin cells are produced too rapidly, leading to thickened, scaly patches of inflamed and red skin on various parts of the body.
If the skin cracks open, infection may result. You may have treated psoriasis outbreaks elsewhere on your body with remedies containing coal tar, vitamin D, or anthralin. Do not apply these products to the vulva, as their harshness can worsen your symptoms. Your clinician may prescribe a topical steroid cream or ointment.
If splits in the skin have opened the way for infection, an anti-yeast or antibiotic component may be added. Whether you have a vulvar skin problem or are just prone to irritation, gentle care of the area is a must. Wear loose clothing.
Choose cotton underwear and go without when at home. To cleanse the area, use your fingers instead of a washcloth and an unscented, non-alkaline cleanser such as Cetaphil or Basis plain water is also fine.
Soak for five minutes in lukewarm water to remove any residue of sweat or lotions or other products. Pat dry, and apply any prescribed medication or a soothing and protective substance such as Vaseline or olive oil. Avoid products with multiple ingredients. In the bathroom, forgo moistened wipes. If you want moisture, use a spray bottle with plain water, and then pat dry. Lichen planus. This skin condition, believed to result from an overactive immune system, can affect the vulva, the vagina, the inside of the mouth, and other skin surfaces.
The vulva may appear pale or pink, sometimes with a white lacy pattern. If the vulvar skin breaks down, the eroded areas appear moist and red. Lichen planus often affects the vagina as well, causing a sticky yellow discharge and erosions that can make intercourse painful. Eventually, lichen planus can affect underlying as well as surface tissues and produce scarring that alters the vulva's shape, sometimes leading to the virtual disappearance of the labia minora.
Lichen planus is diagnosed by its appearance although it can be difficult to distinguish from atrophy caused by a lack of estrogen or the excessive use of steroids , and the diagnosis is confirmed with a biopsy.
The condition may start as a reaction to certain medications — thiazide diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, certain antibiotics, or antimalarial drugs — so be sure to tell your clinician about any drugs you take. Unfortunately, lichen planus is persistent and likely to require long-term maintenance treatment. Lichen sclerosus. Although it can occur elsewhere on the body, this inflammatory skin disorder usually affects the vulvar or anal area in postmenopausal women.
By some estimates, one in 30 older women has lichen sclerosus; it's especially common in women with psoriasis. Itching is usually the first symptom, and it may become severe enough to disrupt sleep and other activities.
During an examination, the clinician may notice white sometimes crinkly or shiny patches. Some may contain tears or red areas from bleeding often the result of scratching and these areas may be painful and sting.
As the disease progresses, there's a danger that vulvar tissues will scar and shrink. Lichen sclerosus is diagnosed by its appearance and sometimes by biopsies.
No matter how mild the symptoms, it should be treated to prevent progression. The usual treatment is application of a high potency corticosteroid ointment for several weeks, then slowly tapering the dose. Early treatment and prompt attention to new lesions or nonhealing sores in the area will reduce the risk further. Women with vulvar skin problems may benefit from estrogen therapy delivered vaginally via ring, tablet, or cream, or applied directly to the vulva , which can help counter atrophy and inflammation and make the vulvar skin less vulnerable to irritation.
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. Harvard Women's Health Watch. Proper diagnosis, treatment vital to get relief from vulvar itching and other irritating conditions Updated: October 23, Published: November, E-mail Address.
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