One of the most common sexual health problems that women face is vaginal dryness and itching. A large fraction feels shy of discussing it with their healthcare provider or seeking medical attention. 

This not only contributes to exacerbating the problem but also, many times, the problem may be smaller and easier to treat than you imagined. Let’s find out what causes vaginal itching and how it can be prevented. 

Causes of Vaginal Itching 

There can be various causes of vaginal itching, most of which are not very concerning. These factors may cause vaginal itching: 

1. Chemical Irritants: A number of chemical substances, including creams, condoms, contraceptive foams, laundry detergents, soaps, scented toilet paper, and fabric softeners can irritate the vagina and vulva (the external female genitalia that surrounds the opening to the vagina).

2. Yeast Infection: The overgrowth of yeast (a naturally occurring fungus present in the vagina) can result in vaginal itching and burning along with a lumpy discharge.

3. Bacterial Vaginosis: It is a vaginal infection resulting from the imbalance of naturally occurring good and bad bacteria in your vagina. Symptoms include vaginal itching and smelly discharge.

4. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Diseases transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse, such as chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhoea, and trichomoniasis can cause vaginal itching along with other symptoms. 

5. Menopause: The hormonal changes that women undergo during menopause, including the reduction in estrogen (the hormone responsible for the working of the female reproductive system) levels, result in thinning of the vaginal mucosa and excessive dryness. The dryness can cause itching and irritation.

6. Skin Diseases: Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can cause red rashes and itching that can spread to the vaginal region. A rare skin condition called lichen sclerosus causes white patches to form on the skin around the vulvar region and can result in itching and discomfort. 

7. Diabetes Mellitus: If you have diabetes, high blood sugar levels can cause glucose to be excreted in the urine. This can create support for the growth of yeast infections, resulting in vaginal itching. 

8. Vulvar Cancer: In rare cases, vulvar cancer can also result in vaginal itching. Vulvar cancer may not always cause symptoms. However, its symptoms, when present, include itching, abnormal bleeding, and pain.

Prevention of Vaginal Itching

Here are a few tips for preventing vaginal itching:

1. Keep your genital area clean and dry. Use warm water and a gentle unscented soap to wash the area. Change your underwear every day. 

2. Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear garments to allow the area to breathe. Avoid wearing tight underwear or pants, as this can irritate the vaginal area further. 

3. Avoid scented intimate products such as soaps, pads, toilet paper, cream, bubble bath, and vaginal sprays. 

4. Always wipe from front to back while cleaning yourself after a bowel movement. 

5. Keep your pubic hair trimmed. Excessive hair growth with sweating and lack of hygiene can invite infection, leading to vaginal itching.

6. Get out of wet or damp clothing immediately after swimming or exercising.

7. Use condoms during sexual intercourse to prevent STDs.

8. Do not douche (cleaning the inside of your vagina with water or other fluids) since it eliminates the beneficial bacteria that fight infections.

9. Use a vaginal lubricant during sexual activity.

10. Use sanitary pads instead of tampons if you have an infection.

11. Keep your blood glucose levels under control if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes. 

12. Eat probiotic foods (foods with live bacteria that are beneficial for your health) such as yoghurt to reduce the chances of getting yeast infections.

Contact your doctor if vaginal itching persists for more than one week or if it occurs along with other symptoms such as fever and pain.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.