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Vaginal irritations and swollen labia

Vaginal irritations and swollen labia are common vaginal discomforts. Learn more about the causes, symptoms and how to treat them

Vaginal irritations can be uncomfortable, but are often painful too, which affects your quality of life. Swollen labia can make you feel restless, not able to sit comfortably or wear trousers because of friction. This condition is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as a burning sensation or vaginal itching. Swelling can be generalized, involving the inner and outer labia, or localized affecting only one part of the vulva.

What causes swollen labia?

There can be several causes, some of which are:

  • Irritation or an allergic reaction. In this case, the irritation is most likely caused by a product, whether it is soap, bubble bath, lotion, intimate deodorant, etc. These products often contain chemicals that irritate the delicate skin of the intimate area causing swelling and pain. This kind of reaction can even happen with products you’ve been using for years.
  • Does the swelling develop after sex? You may be allergic to latex in condoms, to a lubricant or to your partner’s semen. Swelling may also develop due to bruising after rough intercourse, especially if you haven’t used a lubricant and your natural lubrication is not sufficient.
  • Yeast infection. Swollen labia are one of the indicators for this condition. A yeast infection can usually be recognized by the accompanying thick, white, vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese.
  • Bacterial vaginosis. Other symptoms often include a thin, grayish white discharge with a strong fish-like odor.
  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy, the pressure on the reproductive organs and their blood vessels is increased by the baby’s weight. Circulation is reduced, causing swelling and pain in the vulva.
  • Childbirth. During delivery women may experience tissue damage that later results in swelling and pain.

“There are several causes of swollen labia, some of which are irritations, intercourse and infections.”

How to prevent swollen labia?

Avoid using products that contain strong detergents, harsh chemicals, perfume or coloring. If you experience irritation after applying a certain product, rinse the area thoroughly and as soon as possible to remove the product and minimize damage. Then you can apply a natural soothing product to reduce the symptoms and speed up recovery. Choose an intimate wash that only contains mild, preferably natural cleansing agents. Avoid any products, washes and wipes that contain fragrances, alkaline soaps, detergents or preservatives.

If you experience vaginal dryness, use a lubricant during intercourse or apply a vaginal moisturizer daily for a more long-term effect. This way you will gain long-term relief from vaginal dryness. If irritation has already occurred, avoid having sex until the area heals and the symptoms disappear.

If you have a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, you may want to visit your doctor to receive appropriate therapy. You can also use a prebiotic-based product or an anti-adhesive therapy product that will promote the growth of good bacteria and help rebalance your vaginal flora.

Avoid wearing tight clothing, especially while the irritation lasts. Make sure that your underwear is made out of natural material (cotton allows the skin to breathe, while synthetic fabrics can only make the irritation worse). Try sleeping without any underwear to allow the skin to breathe and recuperate overnight.

If you are experiencing swollen labia, try cooling down the irritated area (you can either use a cold compress or try an ice bath). The cold will reduce the swelling and temporarily relieve the pain.

Avoid the urge to scratch the area. This can create tissue damage and symptoms that can become even more uncomfortable.

If the swelling lasts for more than a week, make sure to visit your doctor to find the reason for the irritation.