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Vaginal itching: causes and how to relieve it

Vaginal itching can both be a symptom of an allergy or candidiasis. When it’s caused by an allergic reaction, the affected area is, in most cases, the outer area, because of the daily use of non-cotton knickers and jeans causing irritation and increased itching.

When the itching is internal, it may be caused by the presence of fungi or bacteria and the symptom may be accompanied by swelling and discharge. The cause of itching is often candidiasis, a disease caused by the imbalance of the fungi that normally inhabits this area.

Other characteristic symptoms of candidiasis are:

  • Itching of the woman's internal and external intimate area;
  • White discharge, similar to curdled milk, with or without a bad smell;
  • Pain / burning while urinating.
Vaginal itching: causes and how to relieve it

Quick test to identify the cause

To find out the reason for your vaginal itching, choose the symptoms you are experiencing from the ones below:

  1. 1. Redness and swelling in the intimate region
    Yes
    No
  2. 2. Whitish spots or plaques in the vagina
    Yes
    No
  3. 3. White, lumpy discharge, similar to curdled milk
    Yes
    No
  4. 4. Pain or burning sensation when urinating
    Yes
    No
  5. 5. Yellowish or greenish discharge
    Yes
    No
  6. 6. Small lumps in the vagina or rough skin
    Yes
    No
  7. 7. tching that appears or worsens after using some type of knickers, soap, cream, wax or lubricant in the intimate area
    Yes
    No
  8. 8. Small amount of swelling located on the side of the vagina
    Yes
    No
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As some of these symptoms are common to various diseases, it’s always better to see a gynaecologist if the itching doesn’t improve after 1 week of simple care such as keeping your intimate area clean and dry, avoiding synthetic clothing and eating less sugary foods.

Treatment for relieving vaginal itching

A good home treatment for relieving an itchy vagina, clitoris and labia majora is to wash the intimate area with rosemary and sage tea, for example, because of its antimicrobial properties that eliminate bacteria and prevent the growth of fungi, which can cause itching. 

However, the treatment for an itchy vagina always depends on its cause:

1. Candidiasis

Treatment can be done with the use of oral antifungal medication and ointments for candidiasis such as Clotrimazole or Miconazole, which are prescribed by a gynaecologist.

2. Allergy to chemical substances 

Some chemical substances, such as chlorine, present in jacuzzi, bath or pool water, can cause an itchy vagina, and in these cases you should wash your intimate area well with a pH-neutral soap and dry thoroughly before putting on cotton knickers.

It’s also important to remove your bikini after leaving a pool so that it does not dry out on the body and speed up the growth of fungi or prolong the contact with chlorine.

3. Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, commonly known as STDs may also cause an itchy vaginal, so, if you have engaged in risky behaviour, like having intimate contact without a condom, it’s important that you do specific tests so that the cause is identified and the most appropriate treatment started, either with antibiotics or with antivirals.

4. Hygiene habits

Lack of proper hygiene can also result in an itchy vagina, so it is recommended that the outer area be washed daily with water and mild soap, including after sex. The area should always be dry and it is best to wear cotton knickers and avoid wearing very tight pants and tight, elastic knickers.

During menstruation, it is recommended that the pad or tampon be changed every 4 or 5 hours, even if it is not apparently very dirty, because the vagina is in direct and constant contact with fungi and bacteria present in the intimate area.

In any case, if the itching lasts for more than 4 days or other symptoms appear, such as a foul-smelling vaginal discharge or swelling of the area, go to the gynaecologist to identify the cause and start the appropriate treatment.

How to prevent vaginal itching

To prevent an itchy vagina, clitoris and labia majora, try the following:

  • Wear cotton underwear, avoiding synthetic materials that don’t let the skin breathe, speeding up the growth of fungi;
  • Have good intimate hygiene, washing only the external area, with pH-neutral soap, even after sex;
  • Avoid wearing tight trousers to prevent the area from heating up;
  • Use condoms during sexual intercourse to prevent STDs.

These tips also help to relieve irritation and reduce itching in the area when it already exists. Not eating sugary foods is also recommended.

Bibliography >

  • SILVA, Ricardo O. et al. Conduta na dor e prurido vulvar. FEMINA | Janeiro 2010 | vol 38 | nº 1. Vol.38, n.1. 53-57, 2010
  • SOCIEDADE DE GINECOLOGIA E OBSTETRÍCIA DE BRASÍLIA. Manual de Ginecologia. 2017. Available on: <http://www.sgob.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ManualSGOBdigital11102017.pdf>. Access in 03 Dec 2019
  • FEDERAÇÃO BRASILEIRA DAS ASSOCIAÇÕES DE GINECOLOGIA E OBSTETRÍCIA. Manual de Orientação Trato Genital Inferior. 2010. Available on: <https://www.febrasgo.org.br/images/arquivos/manuais/Manual_de_Patologia_do_Trato_Genital_Inferior/Manual-PTGI-Cap-06-Vulvovaginites.pdf>. Access in 03 Dec 2019
  • DI RENZO, Gian C.; GERLI, Sandro; FONSECA, Eduardo. Manual prático de Ginecologia e Obstetrícia. 1.ed. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier, 2015. 233-237.
  • AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS. Vulvovaginal Health. 2015. Available on: <https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Vulvovaginal-Health>. Access in 03 Dec 2019
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