Vaginal itching may occur with or with no discharge. In some women, a dry itchy vagina before and after period is much more common. Some infections, allergies and irritations around the vaginal area may occur after sex. Could it be STDs or yeast infections? Here’s how to stop and soothe an itchy vagina with home remedies.
Vaginal itching is an uncomfortable and yet a common problem that affects almost every woman at some point in their life. This condition causes the vagina to become inflamed, often causing pain and foul smelling discharge. The most common reasons for this condition are:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Yeast infections
- Sexually transmitted infections, among others
Here are other possible causes of itchy vagina, home remedies to help soothe the condition and steps on how you can prevent the symptoms at home.
Causes and reasons for vaginal itching
Vaginal itching is often a sign of different underlying condition. These conditions can in most cases be shown with different signs and symptoms. Common symptoms would include mild to severe itching, a feeling of burning sensation, swelling and inflammation and in some cases painful fluid filled bump around the genitals.
Common reasons for vaginal itching include the following:
1. Bacterial vaginosis
BV is a common reason of vaginal itching. This condition is triggered by an imbalance between naturally occurring good and bad bacteria in the vagina. Besides the itching, other symptoms that come with this condition are inflammation, burning, discharge, and a fishy-smelling odor.
Doctors often treat BV with antibiotics. These may come as pills you take orally or as creams, you insert into your vagina. Regardless of the treatment you choose, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions.
2. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
STDS transmitted through sex can also cause itching in the vagina. The most common infections include; chlamydia, genital warts, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and trichomoniasis. most of these conditions can lead to symptoms like vulva irritation, abnormal growths, green or yellow vaginal discharge, and pain while urinating.
You can treat STDs with antibiotics or antivirals. You will need to take your medications regularly and avoid sexual intercourse until your infection or disease clears.
3. Yeast infection
Yeast is a naturally occurring fungus that’s normally present in the vagina. It normally doesn’t cause problems, but when its growth goes unnoticed, it may lead to an uncomfortable infection called a vaginal yeast infection. It is a very common condition that affects 3 out of 4 women at some point in their life. This condition is not only accompanied by itching and irritation, it will also produce a thick, white, and cheesy discharge.
This condition can be treated with antifungal medications. These come in various forms including; creams, ointments, or pills. They are available by prescription or over the counter.
4. Skin conditions
Some skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis, can cause redness and itching in the genital region. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a rash that occurs mostly to people with asthma or allergies. The rash is reddish and itchy with a scaly texture and may spread to vagina in some women. Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes scaly, itchy, red patches to form along the scalp and joints.
Women going through menopause or who have already done so are at risk of experiencing vaginal itching. This happens due to a drop in estrogen levels that occur during menopause, which leads to a condition called vaginal atrophy. This causes vaginal walls to thin and dry out, leading to itching and irritation. Thinning of vaginal wall can also affect some women who breastfeed.
Menopause-related itching may be treated with estrogen cream, tablets, or a vaginal ring insert.
Physical and emotional stress can cause itchy vagina and irritation, though not common. Stress normally weakens your immune system, leaving you more prone to the infections that cause itching.
7. Vulvar cancer
This is a type of cancer that develops in the vulva. The external part of female’s genitals, which includes the inner and outer lips of the vagina, the clitoris, and the opening of the vagina. Vulvar cancer may not always cause symptoms, but when they occur, they may include itching, abnormal bleeding, and pain in the vulva area.
This condition can be treated successfully with proper diagnosis by your doctor.
8. Chemical irritants
A number of chemical substances, including, creams, douches, condoms, soaps, contraceptive foams, scented toilet paper, and fabric softeners can irritate the vagina and vulva. You should avoid getting in contact with these irritants or allergens to resolve this condition.
9. Sports vagina
Sports vagina, also known as vaginal discomfort, is a side effect of exercise that affects women. Your vulvar and vaginal areas produce sweat, which may lead to vaginal discomfort when you hit the gym. Yeast thrives in warm, moist environments such as a sweaty vagina causing a lot of discomforts. This condition may be mild or severe, depending on the type of exercise, the intensity of exercise, and how often you work out. The most common symptoms include; itching, redness, irritation, chafing and odor.
The treatment for this condition includes over-the-counter antifungal suppositories and creams, prescription vaginal antifungal medications, and prescription oral antifungal medications. You can also take probiotics and eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt that may help prevent fungal infections.
itchy vagina after period
Vaginal itching before, during and after menstruation is normal. This could be as result of several causes including; vaginal dryness, yeast infection or hormonal changes. These conditions make this condition very uncomfortable. The following is an explanation of why you may experience itching after having your period;
- Hormonal changes– there are many changes that may occur in the uterus and vagina during menstruation cycle. There can be changes in vaginal mucosa associated with changes in the hormones. After periods, the vagina may be drier than usual and this could cause itching. This also happens in menopause.
- Vaginal dryness– the main cause of this condition is the decline in estrogen levels. Vaginal tissues contain estrogen receptors. As the estrogen levels decline, the tissue can get dry and become irritated. When menstruation ends, there is less moisture that was provided by the flow and this could be the reason for itchy vagina.
- Yeast infections– many women are prone to yeast infections during and after periods. Normally, women’s internal parts have yeast which is normal and healthy. Menstruation can affect the acidity of your vagina. When the acidity levels change in the vagina, it becomes more prone to get a vaginal infection.
Itchy vagina with no discharge
Itchy vagina is in most cases accompanied by a white or brown discharge. In rare cases, some women might experience the itching with no discharge.
A common cause of itching with no discharge is hormonal imbalance or fluctuations. For some females the itching can also be as a result of underlying skin conditions such as:
- Eczema also known as atopic dermatitis, this is a skin condition marked with rough and inflamed skin with itchy, painful fluid filled blisters.
- Psoriasis also a skin condition marked by red, itchy and scaly patches
- Allergic reaction to soaps, clothes, food or medication can also be the cause of the itching with no discharge
Abnormal discharge such as spotting that accompany the itching is often a sign a vaginal infection. Itching with no discharge can only signify an irritation for instance from wearing tight clothing, synthetic undergarments, or in some case poor hygiene that might lead to accumulation of bacteria and fungus overgrowth.
Vaginal itching during pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body may go through obvious changes like larger breasts and a growing abdomen. What you may not know is that your vagina goes through changes too. It is therefore important that you understand how pregnancy affects your vaginal health. The following are some of the ways you may likely experience vaginal itching during pregnancy;
1. Increased vaginal discharge
An increase in vaginal discharge is one of the most common vaginal changes during pregnancy. This is as a result of high levels of estrogen and progesterone. An increase in blood volume and blood flow can also contribute to increased vaginal discharge. Sometimes excess discharge signals an infection that occurs when the natural balance of bacteria that lives in the vagina is disrupted.
Pregnancy discharge should be thin, white and milky. It also shouldn’t smell bad, but it may have a mild odor that is noticeable before.
2. Increased risk of vaginal infections
Vaginal infections are common during pregnancy, thanks to hormonal changes that alter your vagina’s pH-balance. Common vaginal infections during pregnancy include;
- Trichomoniasis: this infection is transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected person. It may cause pregnancy complications such as premature birth. Symptoms of this condition include a foul-smelling, yellow-green discharge, vaginal itching and redness, and pain during urination and sex.
- Bacterial vaginosis: approximately 1 in 5 women will develop this itchy, irritating infection during pregnancy. BV occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria that naturally lives in the vagina. Apart from vaginal itching, this condition can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility or damage to the fallopian tubes.
- Yeast infection: the itching and burning brought by yeast infection are usually caused by an overgrowth of candida, a fungus that naturally lives in the vagina. During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen and progesterone create the kind of environment in which yeast can thrive. Your doctor can easily diagnose this condition with a simple vaginal culture.
The common symptoms of this condition include;
- Pain and itching in the vagina- the area can sometimes feel raw too
- Redness and swelling of the vagina and labia
- Pain and discomfort during sex
- Burning while urinating
- Thick, curdled whitish-yellow discharge
3. Increased vaginal swelling
To support the baby’s growth, your blood flow increases significantly during pregnancy. It is usual for your labia and vagina to appear swollen and feel fuller. The swelling and increased blood flow may also increase your libido and make you feel aroused. Hormonal changes and increased blood flow may cause your vagina and labia to darken and take on a bluish tint.
Sometimes the vaginal swelling is caused by infection, which is accompanied by symptoms such as redness, burning, and itching of the vagina or the area around the vagina.
4. Vulvar varicose veins
The varicose veins not only appear on legs, they may also appear in your vulvar and vaginal areas during pregnancy. These veins are caused by an increase in blood volume and a decrease in how fast your blood flows from your lower extremities. Vulvar varicose veins may cause pressure, fullness, and discomfort in your vulva and vagina. You can relieve these symptoms through cold compressing or by wearing a compression garment. This condition may clear on its own after several weeks of giving birth.
How to soothe vaginal itching
Vaginal itching is a very uncomfortable condition that may need fast relief. This could be as a result of dry skin, irritants such as soaps and creams, and infections. You may, therefore, need to observe several tips of preventing and treating this condition. The following may help stop an itchy vagina fast:
- Rub lotion onto the skin of your vagina and let the soothing cream clear up any dry skin.
- You should change your panties; perhaps the irritations could be as a result of fabric of your fancy pants
- You should change the kind of soaps or lotion that you use and see if it doesn’t clear up.
- Change your habits, like the way you conduct your exercise- this may give you most natural solution you can get. You can also sleep without underwear to reduce risk of infections.
- You can also use some home remedies when the itching occurs, these include; coconut oil, Manuka honey, and apple cider vinegar. These remedies provide a soothing effect on your affected area.
Home remedies for vaginal itching
Vaginal itching sometimes called vaginitis is when the vagina becomes inflamed, often causing discharge and pain. Women may also experience swelling. Most of these conditions are easy to treat and others clear up on their own. The following are some of the natural home remedies you can apply in order to treat or relieve the symptoms of this condition:
1. Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar contains antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is for this reason that it is used to restore the natural pH of your vagina hence creating unfavorable condition for yeast or some other bacterial growth.
The following is the procedure on how to use ACV to relieve vaginal itching:
- Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water to form a solution
- Use the solution to wash your vagina
- Repeat this procedure twice a day until the symptoms clear
- Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of raw honey to a glass of warm water and drink it twice daily
2. Cold compress
Applying an ice pack on the vagina numbs the area and reduces inflammation. This makes it an effective remedy to relieve vaginal itching instantly. The following is the procedure for cold compressing;
- Wrap ice cubes in a clean washcloth
- Put the ice pack on the vagina
- Apply it at intervals of 30 seconds
- Repeat this until the itching stops
You can also rinse the vaginal area with ice cold water, it offers the same numbness.
3. Salt water bath
Saline water bath provides relief from vaginal itching. Salt controls the growth of the microbes causing the infection, this way it reduces itching and other discomforts. The following is how you apply salt water;
- Add one tablespoon of salt to a glass of water
- Use the saline water to wash your vagina whenever you feel the itch
- This relieves the itching instantly
- Add ½ cup of salt water to your bathtub filled with lukewarm water
- Sit in a squatting position in the water for around 15 minutes
- Repeat 2 to 3 times every day, depending on the severity of the itch
Caution: don’t use salt on cuts, bruises, or open sores
Garlic contains antibacterial and antibiotic properties that can help clear bacteria and yeast infections. Eating garlic cloves also helps in boosting the immune system that helps your body fight infections. The following is the procedure of using garlic to clear vaginal itching:
- Mix a few drops of garlic oil with 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil
- Apply the mix on the vagina and leave it for 10 minutes
- Rinse with warm water and pat dry
- Repeat this procedure two times in a day
Yogurt provides a quick relief from vaginal itching and burning. This is because it has soothing effects and also controls bad bacterial growth. The following is the procedure on how to apply yogurt on your vagina:
- Add unsweetened yogurt into a plastic tampon.
- Refrigerate it to get little yogurt sicles.
- Insert these popsicles into the vagina for 2 hours.
- Additionally, apply some yogurt to the labia and vaginal opening.
- Put on a pad to collect the melting yogurt and find relief from the cold yogurt.
6. Indian lilac
Indian lilac also known as neem contains antiseptic properties. This makes it the most effective remedy to reduce and treat vaginal itching. The following is the procedure of applying Indian lilac;
- Boil a handful of neem leaves in 2 to 3 cups of filtered water
- Allow it to cool
- Use the solution to rinse the vaginal area
- Repeat this once every day for a few weeks until the infection heals
- Add a few drops of neem oil to a bowl of lukewarm water
- Use it to rinse your vagina
- Repeat this remedy twice a day, for a couple of weeks
Honey contains antibacterial and antifungal properties. This helps get rid of any microbial infection causing vaginal itching. The following is how you use honey to remedy the situation:
- Apply raw honey as an ointment on the affected area
- Leave it on for 30 minutes
- Wash your vagina with warm water
- Repeat this procedure twice a day until symptoms clear or improve
8. Boric acid
Boric acid contains both antiseptic and antifungal properties. These qualities make it an effective remedy for vaginal itching, burning and other discomforts. The following is the procedure of applying this remedy:
- Dilute boric acid with water
- Apply the solution on the vagina
- Leave it for around 2 minutes then rinse off thoroughly with warm water
- Repeat this daily for several weeks until the symptoms cease
Kefir is a fermented dairy product which is rich in probiotic bacteria. It contains Lactobacillus and Bifidus and this makes it an effective remedy for vaginal itching and related symptoms. The following is the procedure on how to apply this remedy:
- Dip a tampon in kefir and insert it in the vagina for two hours
- Repeat this twice a day until you get rid of the infection
- You can also drink 1 or 2 cups of kefir daily for a couple of weeks
10. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil contains antibacterial properties. This is the reason it is an effective remedy for providing relief for vaginal itching and also treating any vaginal yeast infections. The following is the procedure of applying this remedy:
- Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil with 2 tablespoons of freshly extracted aloe Vera gel
- Apply this mixture on the vagina and the surrounding areas
- Leave it for 10 minutes
- Rinse it with warm water and pat dry
- Repeat this procedure daily until the symptoms clear.
11. Coconut oil
The lauric, capric, and caprylic acid present in coconut oil contain antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s hydrating and soothing properties provide relief from the itching and burning of the vagina. The following is how you apply coconut oil to relieve vaginal itching:
- Apply coconut oil on the vagina and leave it to dry completely
- Add 3 to 4 drops of coconut oil into 6 cups of water. Use this solution to rinse your vagina
- Leave it to dry completely
- Repeat this procedure regularly until your symptoms are relieved.
How to prevent vaginal itching
To save yourself from the difficulties in curing vaginal itching, the following are some of the ways you could use to remedy this situation.
Steps to prevent yeast infections:
1. Practice good hygiene
Proper hygiene is the pre-requisite to prevent vaginal itching. You should observe the following;
- Take a bath or shower daily, you should also wash vagina with water only
- Don’t wash the vagina excessively, it results in dry skin causing more itching.
Have enough sleep and do exercise- exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, boost your mood, and increase your energy. It also promotes sleep and reduces your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Practice good genital hygiene, it helps prevent infections- keep your vaginal area clean, after using the toilet, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading yeast or bacteria from your anus to the vagina.
2. Deal with vaginal area cautiously
This should be keenly observed because vagina, anus and urinary openings lie close to each other and might catch infections that could lead to vaginal itching and burning. The following is what you should do;
- Don’t douche
- Avoid sexual intercourse when experiencing vaginal itching
- You should use contraceptives to avoid sexually transmitted diseases
- Don’t scratch the affected area, this aggravates the problem
3. Proper clothing is important in preventing vaginal itching
- Tight fitting clothes do not let air keep your vagina dry. They can often irritate your skin every time you move. They can also lead to sweating which can be the culprit for your condition.
- Avoid wearing those fabrics that make your vagina itchy and hot. Don’t wear lace, Lycra, and polyester close to your sensitive area.
- Wear breathable clothes such as cotton, it wicks away moisture and keeps the area dry. Cotton underwear also doesn’t irritate skin like the synthetic ones.
4. Avoid irritating and allergic products
Chemical irritants are one of the major causes of vaginal itching and burning;
- Avoid certain medications that cause irritations
- Since the vagina is capable of cleaning itself, you should avoid harsh soaps or cleansing agents for that area of the body. Use of such products might aggravate itching.
- Avoid fragrances added to products like toilet paper, laundry detergent and bubble bath
- Avoid some foods that trigger your itching
5. Eat proper diet
The following are some of the important tips for healthy eating;
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid sweetened, carbonated drinks
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
- Avoid refined carbohydrates
- Have a lot of fermented foods like probiotic yogurt and kefir
- Avoid wine and cut back on alcohol
- Vaginal itching before, during after period: https://www.optiderma.com/articles/vaginal-itching-before-after-period/#why-does-your-vagina-itch-before-or-after-your-period
- How pregnancy affects vaginal heath: http://www.healthline.com/health/vaginal-health/how-pregnancy-affects-vaginal-health
- Vaginal itching, burning, and irritation: http://www.webmd.boots.com/women/guide/vaginal-itching-burning-irritation
- Home remedies for vaginal itching and burning: http://www.webmd.boots.com/women/guide/vaginal-itching-burning-irritation