Vaginal itching is a sign that something is wrong with the vagina and, depending on the cause, may require a visit to the doctor. Abnormal discharge is always a warning sign, but many itchy conditions do not cause changes in discharge, so how do you know when it is serious and when not? Knowing the symptoms and causes of vaginal itching without abnormal discharge is a good start.
Causes of vaginal itching.
Itching from the vagina without discharge can be due to various reasons. Some of them require treatment, but others are relatively minor and transient events, and you have options to stop or prevent the itching.
Causes of vaginal itching that do not include discharge include:
- Pubic lice
- Genital herpes
- Lichen sclerosis
Vagina or vulva?
Although many people use the word "vagina" as a term for all female genitalia, the vagina is really just the inside. The external genitalia, called the vulva , contain the pubic muscle, the labia majora, the labia minora, the clitoris , and the openings of the urethra and vagina. Much of what is called "vaginal itching" is technically "vulvar itching."
Everybody sweats from time to time in the genital area. Sweat glands are the same type as those found in the armpits (apocrine glands) and produce thicker sweat than glands in other parts of the body (eccrine glands). When the protein in sweat interacts with bacteria on your skin, it can cause an unpleasant odor .
Wiping away sweat can make your groin and vulva itch. If this is the cause of your itching, it should go away when you bathe or shower.
You can also take steps to prevent this:
- If you know you're sweating, wear breathable materials like cotton.
- Wear sweat-absorbent underwear designed for sports.
- Take a shower and put on clean clothes as soon as possible.
- Leave at least some pubic hair as it absorbs moisture from the skin.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Avoid or change panty liners and panty liners frequently.
Any scented product, be it a panty liner, antiperspirant / deodorant, or feminine hygiene spray, can irritate the sensitive tissues of the vulva and increase itchiness. If you want to use a product that eliminates or prevents perspiration and odor, look for unscented products designed specifically for that area of the body.
As with other areas, shaving the pubic area can cause razor burn, also called an after-shave rash. You may notice that the skin is swollen and red with itchy bumps that become tender to the touch. This is because the razor can remove the top layer of skin, allowing bacteria to enter.
You can prevent shave burns by using a clean, sharp razor, and more blades are better than fewer.
- Hydrate your skin before and after shaving.
- Take a hot shower or wrap your skin in a warm washcloth before shaving.
- Use a shaving cream or gel to help the razor glide smoothly over your skin.
- Shave only in the direction of hair growth.
- After shaving, wash off with cold water or apply a cold compress.
If you get a razor burn, try not to irritate your skin.
If the itching is severe, you can find relief with:
- Cold or warm compress
- Warm bath, possibly with oatmeal to further calm
- Loose and breathable fabrics like cotton.
- Aloe vera gel
Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis , is a skin condition that causes redness and itching. Female genital eczema is a general term for various types of itching that can affect the vulva or between the buttocks.
- Atopic eczema : This condition is caused by a dysfunctional immune system and manifests as dry, itchy skin and rashes; The rash may appear red on lighter skin and purple, brown, or gray on darker skin.
- Seborrheic dermatitis : This chronic form of eczema can go away and get worse over the years. It could be caused by an abnormal reaction to the yeast that lives on your skin.
- Allergic contact eczema: One to two days after contact with an allergen, an inflammatory skin reaction can occur, causing an itchy rash. Common triggers include poison ivy , nickel , and fragrances .
- Irritant contact eczema : Irritants like solvents, soap, nickel, wool, or certain ingredients in beauty products can damage skin cells and trigger an immune system reaction. This can lead to itching, burning, or blisters, which can be severe enough to disrupt sleep or concentration.
Topical corticosteroids are a common treatment for many types of eczema. However, it is important that you consult your doctor and do not attempt to diagnose skin conditions yourself. The wrong product can irritate the skin and lead to more problems.
A healthy lifestyle, which includes getting enough sleep and reducing stress levels, can help relieve eczema symptoms.
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause vaginal itching is pubic lice , also known as crabs. These tiny parasitic insects live in pubic hair and, less commonly, other body hair (such as the chest, beard, eyebrows) and feed on blood. Most of the time they are caused by direct contact between pubic hair and those who have it. It is rare, but possible, to get them from bedding or clothing that you share with an infected person.
Pubic lice generally inhabit the pubic region of the pubis, which is the fleshy area at the top of the vulva where most of the pubic hair is located. Itching may be your only sign that they are if you don't look too closely, and then you may see brown or grayish lice on your pubic hair or skin, or see their yellow or white eggs attached to your hair.
Other than the itchiness, you shouldn't have any head lice symptoms, and otherwise it's not harmful.
You can get rid of pubic lice:
- Over-the-counter or prescription products, including lotions, shampoos, gels, foams, and oral medications.
- A fine-toothed comb to remove eggs (nits) from pubic hair.
- In a mild case, only nails.
You will also need to wash and dry clothing, bedding, or towels that you have used in the past two to three days to kill whatever is left on them.
While it may seem like shaving your pubic hair is a good way to get rid of these parasites, it only removes the eggs and the lice crawl up to the first body hair they can find. If you still want to shave to make sure all the nits are gone, experts recommend waiting until all the lice have been removed after treatment.
You may experience itchiness for a time after the lice are gone. Try to avoid scratching, as it can damage your skin and infect it. If you notice redness or swelling in the areas where it was scratched, this could be a sign of infection. Be sure to consult your doctor.
The only way to prevent the development of pubic lice is to refrain from having sex or other close contact with anyone who has them.
Whenever you discover that you have a sexually transmitted infection, you should contact all of your recent sexual partners and refrain from sex until you receive treatment.
Genital herpes , another STI, is a common cause of genital itching. It is most commonly caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), but it can also be caused by the virus that causes oral herpes, which is HSV type 1 (HSV-1). About 12% of the US population between the ages of 14 and 49 tests positive for HSV-2, which is incurable.
Many cases of genital herpes are asymptomatic or have mild and infrequent symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include small, painful sores or blisters on the genitals and / or anus. They can be on the vulva or perineum (the space between the vaginal and anal openings), as well as inside the vagina and even on the cervix (which connects the vagina to the uterus). When there are sores, it is called a flash.
Other possible symptoms that can occur during an outbreak include:
- Fever and chills
- Body pain
- Swollen lymph nodes in the throat, armpits, and pelvis.
You can get genital herpes through unprotected genital contact with the genitals, anus, or lips of someone who has it. A condom can provide significant, but not complete, protection. The disease can be controlled with antiviral medications (which can also help prevent its spread), over-the-counter pain relievers, and cold compresses for ulcers.
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin disorder in which the skin becomes thin, pale, and wrinkled. It usually affects the genitals and anus, but it can also affect the chest and arms. It occurs most often in women over 50 and girls who have not reached puberty.
This is not always symptomatic, but it can cause:
- Severe itching of the vulva
- Itching, pain, or bleeding from the anus, especially when having a bowel movement.
- Pain during vaginal penetration.
- Difficulty and / or pain when urinating.
- Easy bruising, tearing and bleeding.
- 8-shaped sores around the vulva and anus.
Lichen sclerosus usually comes and goes (comes and goes) and can cause permanent scarring. and it usually gets worse over time if not treated properly. It cannot be cured, so treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms.
Standard treatments include:
When to contact a healthcare provider
If you have vaginal or vulvar itching without abnormal discharge that lasts more than a few days, you should see your doctor. What seems like a minor problem, like a razor burn, can turn into something more serious, like genital herpes. Improper treatment can further irritate the skin and cause further discomfort.
If the itching is accompanied by abnormal discharge or pelvic pain, see your doctor immediately.
The constant itching can be very distracting and significantly degrade your quality of life. Different causes of itching may require different treatments.
Common treatments for irritating itching include:
- Cold compresses or ice packs for 5 to 10 minutes at a time
- Oatmeal bath
- Moisturizing, especially without additives or fragrances.
- Local anesthetics containing pramoxine
- Topical preparations containing menthol or calamine.
And as difficult as it may be, try not to scratch yourself.
Preventing vaginal and vulvar itching means protecting your skin and vaginal health.
Taking good care of your skin will help prevent severe itching, especially from dry skin.
- Take a short (10 minute) bath or shower in warm water.
- Use unscented skin care products.
- Wear loose, breathable clothing.
- Keep your home relatively cool, and if you are prone to dry skin and eczema, use a humidifier in winter.
Good genital health also helps prevent itching and other problems. Your vagina is healthiest when it contains the right balance of bacteria called vaginal flora. When you have the right amount of good bacteria, the environment remains slightly acidic, which prevents bad bacteria from getting out of control.
Many things can upset this balance, including:
- Vaginal lubricants
- Sprays and deodorants for feminine hygiene
- Detergents and soaps
- Dyes in clothes
- Contraceptive devices
- The pregnancy
- Restrictive clothing
You can take steps to maintain good vaginal and vulvar health, such as:
- Wash the affected area only with mild soap or water (strong soap can upset the pH balance).
- Do not use soap around the opening of your vagina or urethra.
- Cleanse between the labia minora and the labia minora (inner and outer lips).
- Try to keep the area as cool and dry as possible.
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Do not stay in wet bathing suits or sweaty sportswear for longer than necessary.
- Use a small amount of mild detergent and rinse the clothes twice.
- Use sanitary pads and sanitary pads only during your period.
- Change your tampons frequently.
- After defecation, wipe it from front to back.
- Shower regularly.
- Do not wear fragrances around the vulva or vagina.
- Try using vaginal lubricants to reduce friction during penetrative sex.
- Use condoms during penetrative sex.
- Change condoms when you change the area of penetration (between oral, vaginal, or anal).
Get the word of drug information
Vaginal, vulvar, and anal itching are topics that you may not feel comfortable talking about with your healthcare provider. However, given the severity of some of the conditions that can cause this itch, it's important to get over the embarrassment and get tested. The correct diagnosis and treatment will give you relief and peace of mind.
Frequently asked questions
In most cases, vaginal itching is harmless, but it can be a sign of a problem that requires a visit to your gynecologist. Possible causes include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, certain STIs, allergic reactions, and irritation from soaps and creams.
Itching in the female genitalia can be relieved by applying a cold compress for 5 to 10 minutes, using a fragrance-free lotion or lubricant, or using local anesthetics or medical treatments.
If your vaginal area itches for more than a few days, causes severe discomfort, abnormal discharge, or pelvic pain, call your doctor.
Yes, itching in the vagina and vulva can indicate a yeast infection. Other signs include pain and lumpy white discharge. Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications.