Feminine Itch

" Feminine itch (also called pruritus vulvae or vulvar itching) has multiple causes. These range from bacterial vaginosis (vaginal itch due to infection), a chemical irritant such as a detergent to menopause. If you try a home remedy first and it does not work within two to seven days, see your doctor, as you may have something that needs medication. Don’t wait out of embarrassment, as some infections may get worse if left untreated.  The question "why does my vagina itch" is more common than you think. Again, always contact a Doctor if symptoms last longer than 7 days. Most problems are minor in nature, but still require medical attention due to the presence of infection. The condition can also self correct after several days."   

Causes of Feminine Itch

The causes of feminine itch are legion and include the following:

  • Bacterial vaginosis - itching occurs when infectious bacteria invades the area in addition to normally occurring bacteria.
  • STDs (Chlamydia, Genital herpes, Genital warts, Gonorrhea)

    feminine itch
    Feminine Itch can be caused by gram-negative Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria (shown here). Women's symptoms are mild and could be the cause of feminine itch. It is often mistaken for infection. Symptoms of gonorrhea include a burning sensation during urination, discharge from the vagina, and bleeding in between your periods
    Source:CDC/ Dr. Stephen Kraus
  • Menopause - loss of estrogen
  • Peri-menopause
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Vaginal Yeast infection (disease also called Monitial vaginitis or vaginal candidiasis)  - Yeast infection is caused by the Candida fungus. The body always has some of this fungus present, but when it colonizes beyond normal levels, itch can occur, such as when the vagina acidity levels are reduced. Symptoms include a  white thick cheese like vaginal discharge, often caused by antibiotics, sex, condoms, can also be transmitted by male partner. 75% of women will get a yeast infection at some point.
  • Tichomonas Vaginitis - caused by STD's (e.g.; genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea) or infection
  • Pinworm infection
  • Crabs
  • Chemical irritants such as laundry detergent, contraception, perfume toilet tissue, feminine spray, douche
  • Psoriasis or related skin disorders
  • Scabies
  • Stress
  • Diabetes - itching triggered by too much sugar in the urine
  • Diet high in sugar
  • Pre-cancerous skin conditions
  • Aging/menopause - triggered by reduced levels of estrogen in the body
  • Pinworms (seen in young children)
  • Lichen Schlerosis (rare) - accompanied by white skin patches that could cause vaginal scaring

Symptoms of Feminine Itch

The first signal that you may have feminine itch will be the itch itself. Depending on what is causing that itch, you may also have symptoms that include the following:

  • Inflammation and reddened vaginal and vulvar area
  • White, cottage-cheese like drainage, which may or may not have an odor and may or may not have color ranging from white to green
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Burning on urination, which may mean you have a urinary tract infection

Diagnosis of Feminine Itch

Your physician will need to do a visual examination of the areas that are itching. They will have a whole list of questions for you as well, to try and track down or rule out things that may be causing your feminine itch. You may also have some tests, which may include urine and blood samples, a test for hormone levels, pap smear, skin biopsy and a culture and microscopic exam of any discharge you may be experiencing.

Some of the questions you may be asked include when your itch started, if you have had it previously and how severe it is. You will be asked to pinpoint the location of the itch, meaning inside or outside the vagina or vulva or both. The doctor will want to know how frequently you bathe, what kind of soap you use, whether you swim a lot and if you change your underwear often.

If you use scented products such as bubble bath, feminine sprays or douches, your doctor will also want to know about those, as they cause irritation and itching. You will be asked if your underwear is cotton or synthetic, if you wear pantyhose frequently or pants that are too tight. While the questions may seem odd, the doctor is trying to eliminate things that could have caused your problem. You will also be asked what you have tried to alleviate the itch, about your sexual activities and whether or not you feel you may have a sexually transmitted disease.

Be honest in your answers. The doctor is not there to judge you, he or she just needs to focus on what the cause of your feminine itch may be.  Other tests that may be performed include a Pap smear, biopsy (skin sample) or vaginal culture.

Treatment of Feminine Itch


  • Stop scratching, as this can cause irritation which results in increased sensations of feminine itch
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections and/or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Anti fungal drugs for yeast.  These can be over the counter (Monistat 3 or 7 day treatments - referred to as azoles) or the prescription medication fluconazole.  Do not self treat if you are pregnant or have diabetes without consulting a physician. Over use of over the counter medications can lead to yeast resistance. For this reason and to confirm the diagnosis,f you suffer from frequent feminine itch due to vaginal yeast infection, the medication Diflucan prevents re-occurence in 90% of women. Talk to your doctor as frequent infection could signal a weakened immune system.

    It is near impossible to determine if a urinary infection or yeast infection is present without laboratory tests by a doctor.
  • Itch medications such as antihistamines or benzodiazepines
  • Cream(s) with hormones
  • Steroid creams/lotions to ease inflammation
  • Try ice packs at night to alleviate itch and swelling
  • Eat at least one cup of sugar free yogurt each day, with live acidophilus cultures to beat yeast
  • Freeze a yogurt filled vaginal applicator and insert it or use a yogurt smeared tampon and you may also smear the yogurt directly on vulva
  • Rinse vagina with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and warm water, twice a day for two days
  • Wear only 100% cotton underwear
  • Sit in tub of shallow, warm water with a half cup of salt for at least 15 minutes each day for two days. Insert finger in vagina to allow salt rinse to go inside.
  • Sit in tub of shallow, warm water with a half cup of baking soda for at least 15 minutes each day for two days.
  • Use unscented soap and water 1x per day to avoid drying the area
  • After going to the bathroom always wipe from the front of the vagina to the back.
  • In babies change diapers more frequently
  • If the vagina is too dry, consider using KY Lubricant before sex.  An alternative is to eliminate sexual activity.

Natural remedies are also available that can help to relieve vaginal itch, burning and related discomfort. Products such as the FDA registered Vagi-Soothe combine these popular feminine itch remedies including:

  • Kreosotum (12C) - for burning and vaginal discharge.
  • Merc sol (30C) - to eliminate vaginal odor and support genital health
  • Lycopodium (12C) - for itch, redness, irritation and vaginal dryness
  • Calc carb (6C) - helps to restore normal acidity and alkalinity in the body
  • Sepia (6C) - used for gynecological problems, particularly the vagina, ovaries and uterus

References:

MedLinePlus

MedicineNet

 




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