Vaginal Itching refers to itching in the intimate area, which is a common problem that can interfere with daily life, and in some cases, affect sleep. Most women experience genital itchiness at some point in life, but this usually lasts for a short period and does not affect life. As a general rule, Itchiness in the sensitive area requires attention if it’s severe, persistent, or recurrent. Let’s discover the major causes of vaginal itching and learn some tips to deal with it!
WHAT CAUSES VAGINAL ITCHING?
There are tens of reasons for vaginal itchiness, but the vast majority of cases are caused by one of the following:
- BACTERIAL INFECTIONS
Yes! You guessed it! Bacteria is a big suspect when you develop unusual vaginal itching. But wait, not all bacteria are the same. The intimate area naturally has what we call “healthy bacteria”, these bacteria grow in the vaginal environment and promote our natural defenses against harmful microbes. Harmful bacteria, on the other hand, grow in the intimate area when the vaginal conditions are out of balance. Now, if you have new-onset vaginal itching with yellowish or greenish discharge that has a “fishy smell”, this could mean you have a bacterial infection, or “Bacterial Vaginosis”.
2. YEAST INFECTIONS
Another common reason for vaginal itchiness is yeast. Yeast (Candida) grow excessively when the vaginal environment is disrupted. Many factors put you at risk of developing a yeast infection, including, pregnancy, menopause, taking antibiotics, or having a weakened immune system. This overgrowth of yeast leads to itchiness that’s usually accompanied by thick white cheesy discharge.
Every day, we come in contact with hundreds of chemicals; soaps, washes, pads, fabrics, laundry detergents, perfumes, hygiene products … the list goes on. Chemicals found in those products can cause skin irritations and allergies, which result in itchiness anywhere in the body including the sensitive area. It’s a good idea to always do some research before introducing a new product into your life. If you have a reaction to a chemical, removing the irritant is usually enough to clear itchiness.
4. SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS (STIs)
Itchy genitals can be a sign of an STI. STIs occur after having unprotected intimate contact with someone who carries the virus/bacteria/parasite. STIs that can cause itchiness in the private area include genital warts, gonorrhea, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia. Put in mind that STIs are not always apparent in the infected individual, meaning you have to be cautious even if your partner shows no symptoms.
Menopause is characterized by a sharp drop in female sex hormones. This causes the lining of the vagina to become thin and dry. The thinning and dryness can cause vaginal itching but that’s not the full story! These structural and functional changes make it easier for vaginal infections to take place. Some types of skin disorders are also more likely to occur after menopause, making itchiness more frequent in postmenopausal women.
6. SKIN DISORDERS
The skin of the intimate area is just like any other part of your body, it’s prone to skin diseases. Skin conditions affecting the private area, like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and lichen sclerosis can cause vaginal itchiness. Other symptoms can also be present, like inflammation, scaly patches, and changes in skin color, texture, or thickness.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR?
Itchiness in the intimate area requires medical attention if it’s severe, affecting life or sleep, or persistent. If you experience vaginal pain, discharge, swelling, ulcers, blisters, trouble urinating, discomfort during sex, or any unusual changes along with itchiness, you should see a doctor.
HOW TO REDUCE VAGINAL ITCHING?
Here are the best tips to alleviate vaginal itchiness:
- INVESTIGATE YOUR PRODUCTS: The best thing you can do at first is to check the products you’re using to see if any of them could be responsible for your itchiness. Bubble baths, soaps, perfumes, synthetic fabrics, pads, douches, lotions, lubricants, spermicides … you name it!
- PROPER HYGIENE: Wash the intimate area regularly (but don’t over wash!), wipe from front to back (always!), and change your underwear at least every 24 hours.
- STAY DRY: Sweating and moisture can aggravate itchiness. Shower immediately after sweating and dry the area thoroughly after showering or swimming.
- AVOID FURTHER HARM: Don’t shave or scratch the area, give the skin time to calm down and heal.
- USE PH-BALANCED PRODUCTS: Respecting the natural equilibrium your body manifests is crucial to your overall health. Use a gentle PH-balanced wash to keep the sensitive area clean without disrupting its acidic environment. This can protect you from yeast and bacterial infections.
LET THE AREA BREATHE: Wear cotton underwear, avoid tight clothes, and use breathable pads to allow airflow and keep the area dry.
DID YOU KNOW?
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