Vaginal Irritation – Causes, Treatment and Remedies
Vaginal Irritation – What Causes it? How is it Treated? Find out everything you need to know.
Vaginal irritation – medically known as vaginitis – is a common type of irritation that affects a woman’s vagina and vulva area. It usually produces symptoms like burning, abnormal discharge, itching, and general discomfort. Symptoms can affect anywhere around the vagina and vulva.
There are several potential causes of vaginal irritation, but it is most commonly caused by an infection. Fortunately, most of these infections are very easy to treat and usually nothing to worry about (as long as you see your doctor).
Vaginal irritation is always an unpleasant experience, but by understanding the cause and using the right treatments, symptoms can quickly dissipate.
Read on to discover:
- What are the main vaginal irritation causes?
- Which parts of the body does vaginal irritation affect?
- When to see a doctor about vaginal irritation?
- What is the best vaginal irritation treatment?
- How to prevent vaginal irritation
- Vaginal irritation FAQs
Causes of Vaginal Irritation
Understanding the cause of your vaginal irritation means being able to treat it. There are several potential causes – here are some of the most common:
Yeast naturally grows in the vagina, but an overgrowth of yeast turns into an infection that produces uncomfortable symptoms like itching and thick discharge. If you have a yeast infection, you might encounter itching inside vagina as well as around the vulva.
- Intense itchiness around vagina and vulva
- Burning, pain, and soreness around the vagina
- Thick discharge that looks like cottage cheese
- Watery discharge
- Vaginal rash
The usual treatment for yeast infections is an antifungal medication like Gyno Pevaryl Cream, which can be picked up over the counter. It is used for 14 days to kill the yeast causing the infection – simply apply to the vaginal area each day. To prevent yeast infections from reoccurring, keep scented products away from your vaginal area and always wipe front to back after using the toilet.
If it is your first yeast infection, the infection keeps coming back, or the symptoms are particularly severe, it’s important to speak to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to properly diagnose the infection and prescribe an antifungal treatment.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
The vagina has an ideal PH balance – when that falls out of the ordinary, it can lead to the overgrowth of bacteria, causing an infection called bacterial vaginosis (often referred to as BV). BV is often categorised by symptoms of a ‘fishy’ discharge odour and burning during urination.
BV is very common – around 20-30% of women have BV at any given time. While there is no single cause, certain activities can put a person more at risk, such as frequent unprotected sex and douching. It should be noted, however, that bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), although it can be triggered by sex. A woman can pass it to another woman during sex.
- White, grey, or green discharge
- Vaginal itching and discomfort
- Burning during urination
- ‘Fishy’ smelling discharge – often foul
These symptoms are most commonly associated with BV, but keep in mind that there can be no symptoms present in people with BV.
After a doctor diagnoses you with bacterial vaginosis, you will usually receive a round of antibiotics to fight the infection. Once completed, symptoms should diminish. If you find that BV keeps coming back, it’s important to bring the issue up with your doctor.
To prevent BV, there are some things you can do: avoid douching, practice safe sex, and always use unscented products around your vagina. Scented products can upset the PH balance, leading to an infection.
Vulvodynia is a type of chronic pain that affects the vulva, with studies showing that up to 16% of women suffer from it at some point in their lives. While the exact cause is unknown, potential causes include hypersensitivity to yeast, injury, and pelvic floor weakness.
- Vaginal burning or itching
- A stinging or throbbing sensation
- Painful sexual intercourse
- A burning vaginal opening
Vulvodynia can severely impact your life, especially when it comes to sex. It can make penetrative sex difficult or near impossible, with the woman experiencing extreme pain during the act.
After diagnosis, doctors treat vulvodynia with a variety of medications and therapies. What works for one woman might not work for the other. Typical treatments include:
- Pelvic floor therapy
- Medications such as steroids and antihistamines
- Nerve blockers
- Biofeedback therapy
- Local anaesthetics
If you experience frequent pain around your vulva, seek help from your doctor and list all of your symptoms. Diagnosis for vulvodynia is not always easy, but being open about your symptoms and experiences means your doctor can reach a diagnosis sooner.
STDs are sexually transmitted diseases that get passed on during sexual intercourse. STDs can get passed on during penetrative sex as well as other types of sex like foreplay and oral. If you have unprotected sex with a person who has an STD, there is a chance you have one too, and you must get tested as soon as possible.
Certain STDs can cause vaginal irritation, including:
Common symptoms: painful urination, bleeding between periods, unusual vaginal discharge
Common symptoms: unusual vaginal discharge, soreness and swelling, vaginal itching
Common symptoms: thin or watery vaginal discharge, burning during urination, green or yellow vaginal discharge
- Genital Herpes
Common symptoms: itching or burning around the vagina, red bumps around the area of infection, scabbing
Some STIs are easier to treat than others. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are often treated with a round of antibiotics to clear up the infection, whereas genital herpes is a life-long STI where symptoms can clear and return. Treatment for genital herpes is more focused on managing symptoms using antiviral medication and cream to treat discomfort. If you suspect your vaginal irritation is sexually transmitted, testing is essential. The best way to prevent an STI is to always practice safe sex and get tested regularly – especially after having sex with a new partner.
While infections are the most common cause of vaginal irritation, you may also encounter vaginal irritation due to contact with an irritant. You might be allergic to a certain ingredient found in a product you use, or you may use too many fragranced soaps around your vagina and vulva. Any irritant that messes with the delicate PH balance of your vagina can cause irritation and possibly lead to an infection.
Some of the most common vaginal irritants include:
- Laundry Detergents
- Tight Clothing
- Sex Toys
If you experience vagina burning, an itchy vaginal area, vagina redness, or vaginal skin irritation after using certain products, you should stop. Identifying the cause and avoiding it is the best way to stop symptoms and prevent them from coming back in the future. If you experience vaginal irritation from soap, you should check out the ingredients and buy a soap that has no fragrance in it so that you can still clean the area.
You can also help ease symptoms in the meantime by avoiding scratching, wearing loose-fitted clothing, and applying petroleum jelly to the vulva (skin outside of the vagina).
Treating Vaginal Irritation – Itching and Burning
aginal irritation is very unpleasant for the sufferer. Dealing with vaginal discomfort can affect your day-to-day life – you might feel pain throughout the day, causing a lack of focus, and it can impact your sex life and intimate relationships.
Vaginal irritation doesn’t have to take over your life, though. There are methods of treating it that can help symptoms dissipate, allowing you to get on with your life without ongoing discomfort.
One of the most unpleasant symptoms of vaginal irritation is itching. It can range from mild to severe, depending on the cause. While the best course of action is to get a diagnosis from your doctor to treat the cause directly, there are creams and remedies to help you manage the itching sensation.
Medical treatments often include a cream for vaginal irritation as well as oral medication.
- Gyno Pevaryl Cream
Used to treat yeast infections – take for the full 14 days to get the best results.
- Cortisone creams
Cortisone creams can provide women with temporary relief from vaginal itching.
- Anti-itch creams
An anti-itch cream can help you stop itching and making the area worse.
If you experience extreme itching down there, antihistamines can help stop the itch.
The hormone oestrogen is often prescribed for women with vaginal dryness (which can cause itching). It can help you produce healthy, normal discharge.
If the itching is caused by an infection like BV, doctors may prescribe a round of antibiotics.
Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching
While it is important to see your doctor if you experience symptoms of vaginal irritation (including itching), there are still some methods that might help alleviate symptoms from home. These include:
- A Cold Compress
Applying a cold compress to the vulva can help manage the itching sensation without scratching. You can apply it to specific areas where the itch is more intense. If you have an itchy clitoris, for example, you can apply the cold compress to that area for instant relief.
- Cotton Underwear
Cotton underwear is much kinder on your skin than other materials, so wear cotton underwear if you experience vaginal itching.
- Baking Soda
Baking soda helps relieve itching. To stop the itch, apply a quarter cup of baking soda to your bath before soaking.
Remember that natural remedies for vaginal itching will only help alleviate itching – it’s important to see your doctor to figure out the underlying cause of the uncomfortable symptom.
Experiencing a burning sensation in and around your vagina and vulva is always worrying. There are several potential causes that warrant different types of treatments.
Medical treatments for vaginal burning often include creams and medications.
- Antifungal medications
Gyno Pevaryl Cream is used to treat vaginal yeast infections. If that’s what’s causing the burning, this cream will help stop symptoms over the course of the 14 day treatment.
- Oestrogen pills
Oestrogen can be used for healthy discharge, especially in women with vaginal dryness. Talk to your doctor about being prescribed estrogen pills.
If vaginal burning is caused by chronic pain (vulvodynia), a doctor may prescribe anticonvulsants to help lessen that pain.
Home Remedies for Vaginal Burning
To treat and manage vaginal burning from home, you can use the following:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties that can directly treat the cause of the burning. Either drink a spoonful or apply a small amount to your bath.
- A Cold Compress
To relieve the burning sensation, apply a cold compress or ice pack when necessary.
Preventing Vaginal Irritation – Itching and Burning
Preventing symptoms is incredibly important – especially if you experience frequent vaginal itching and burning. Fortunately, there are simple methods to keep those uncomfortable symptoms at bay.
- Do Not Douche
The vagina is self-cleaning. That means there is no need to douche at all – all it will do is upset the natural PH balance of the vagina. Instead, clean the vulva with unscented soap.
- Practice Safe Sex
Safe sex – sex with a condom and other protection methods – reduces your risk of STIs and STDs. It can also stop vaginal irritation after sex from occurring due to your vagina’s bacteria balance being thrown off.
- Avoid Scented Products
Scented products can cause irritation and lead to infection. Only use unscented products around your vagina.
- Practice Good Hygiene
Good hygiene is essential for a healthy vagina. Using water and unscented soap around your vulva each day will keep your vagina clean and healthy. Remember – there is no need to douche.
When to See a Doctor About Vaginal Irritation
It is important to visit a doctor if you show signs of vaginal irritation and over-the-counter medications are not working. You should also see a doctor if you experience symptoms and:
- Your symptoms keep coming back
- You are pregnant
- It is your first time experiencing symptoms
- Vaginal irritation affects your quality of life
Your doctor will be able to prescribe medications and creams to directly treat the cause of the issue. They can also recommend the best over-the-counter creams and medications for relief.
Frequently asked questions
Is Bacterial Vaginosis Itchy?
One of the symptoms of BV is an itchy vagina. Other symptoms include a fishy smell, watery discharge, and burning during urination.
How Do I Stop Vaginal Burning?
Your doctor can prescribe vaginal irritation treatments like creams and medications to stop vaginal burning. You can also apply an ice pack or petroleum jelly to soothe the skin surrounding the vagina area if you need instant relief. Do not apply petroleum jelly directly into the vagina.
How Do I Stop My Vagina from Itching?
If you have a yeast infection, you will find relief with the antifungal treatment Gyno Pevaryl. If you have an infection like BV, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the root cause of the issue. To treat itchiness from home, apply a cold compress and avoid scratching the area (as this will only make it worse).
Can STDs Cause an Itchy Vagina?
Yes – some STDs can cause itching in and around the vagina. The STDs most likely to produce this symptom are chlamydia, genital herpes, and gonorrhoea.
Why Is My Vagina Itchy Before My Period?
Oestrogen levels decrease just before the start of your period, leading to vaginal dryness that can cause irritation and itchiness. This makes slight vaginal irritation before period normal. If you experience severe itchiness and pain during this time, though, it’s best to see your doctor.