What is Vaginal Itching? Top 10 Symptoms, 5 causes and 8 treatments of Vaginal Itching

Vaginal itching is a bothersome and unpleasant symptom that can be caused by irritating substances, infections or menopause. It may also be the result of skin conditions or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Vaginal itching may occur, in rare cases, as a result of stress or vulvar cancer. The majority of vaginal itching is not an alarming concern, however if the itching is serious or if you think there is an underlying condition, you must see a doctor or gynecologist. Via an examination or testing, your doctor will assess the source of the vaginal itching, and will be able to suggest treatment options for the symptom.

According to a 2018 study, infections are the most common cause of vaginal itching. Changes in hormone levels, as well as reactions to products like scented soaps are potential causes. When a person stops using these products, the itching will most likely go away. Unscented and fragrance-free materials are less likely to irritate the skin. Also, cleaning the vaginal area with products is not recommended by healthcare professionals since the vagina is self-cleaning. 

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Signs and Symptoms of Vaginal Itching

Vaginal itching is a symptom of that may signify a deeper condition in your vagina. Signs and symptoms of itching affects the vagina or the vulva, which is a part of the vaginal area. Related symptoms and signs of vaginal itching include:

  • Vaginal odour which is usually fishy and unpleasant. Itching, burning, inflammation, or discharge, are typically correlated with abnormal vaginal odour caused by infection or some other issue.
  • Vaginal discharge which can be white or yellowish or grey, it can be thick or watery. Sometimes normal bacteria that live in the vagina can overgrow, resulting in discharge.
  • Vaginal dryness due to friction and irritation. Vaginal dryness can affect any woman, but it is especially common after menopause, affecting more than half of postmenopausal women aged 51 to 60. Even before menopause, about 17% of women between the ages of 18 and 50 have vaginal dryness during intercourse. Hygiene products like feminine sprays, harsh soaps, swimming pool and hot tub chemicals, washing powders are related to vaginal dryness. Certain medications like allergy and cold pills, antidepressants, can cause mucus membranes and vaginal tissues to dry out.

Vaginal itching does not occur on its own. Depending on the underlying infection, vaginal itching may occur with other symptoms. 

  • Presence of small parasites in the vaginal area, like pinworms or pubic lice. The global occurrence of pubic lice is estimated to range from 1.3% to 4.6%, with an average of 2%.
  • Bleeding: Vaginitis-related bleeding is normally light. You may find spots of blood in your underwear. If you have complicated or chronic infection, you may find that you are more susceptible to bleeding. 
  • Scarring of the reproductive organs as a result of certain underlying sexually transmitted infection causing difficulty getting conceiving or infertility.
  • Lesions or bumps
  • Irritation or burning of the vaginal area
  • Pain during urination and/or intercourse
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva
  • Mood swings, hot flashes, irregular menstrual periods, and other menstrual symptoms.

Causes of vaginal itching

There may be several possible causes of vaginal itching.


Minor itching can occur as a result of using skin-irritating products. These include:

  • Scented menstrual pads, tampons, etc.
  • Detergents 
  • Creams, soaps, or lotions
  • Deodorants or douches
  • Intimate sprays and bubble baths

Contact dermatitis is a condition in which your skin reacts to an allergen or irritant , such as new soap, lotion, dye, detergent, or sanitary pad. Dr. Williams explains that some women are more vulnerable to scented or coloured products and will have an allergic reaction. Other times, they are not allergic to anything in particular.

2.Yeast Infections

Many women experience vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, at some stage in their lives. Candida overgrowth in the vaginal canal causes yeast infections. Yeast infections are not fatal but the symptoms may be aggravating. Dr. Williams states that one of the most common problems women jump to when they have vaginal itching is yeast infection. About 75% women will experience yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. Overgrowth of yeast can result in the following symptoms:

  • Itching or burning in the vaginal region
  • Odourless white discharge
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Pain while urinating

3.Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial infection, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a very common bacterial infection among women of childbearing age. It happens when the normal beneficial bacteria in the vagina are imbalanced. According to Dr. Williams, it occurs when the normal balance of bacteria in the vaginal area is disrupted, resulting in and overgrowth of a specific form of bacteria that causes all the symptoms most women may experience. People may have BV without exhibiting symptoms, but if symptoms do occur they include the following:

  • Itching, discomfort or burning in or around the vagina
  • Vaginal discharge that is thin, white or grey
  • Unpleasant odour after intercourse

If you’re having any of these symptoms, visit your doctor right away so that he or she may prescribe an antibiotic to help restore balance in your vagina.

4.Skin conditions

Itching around the vagina can be caused by a variety of skin conditions:

  • Psoriasis: It is an autoimmune disease that causes scaly patches on the skin that appear raised, red or purple. About 33-63% of people with psoriasis experience symptoms on the genitals at some point.
  • Sebborheic dermatitis: It is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects up to approximately 5% of the general population. This skin condition is characterised by red rashes either on the face, scalp, chest, and even in the genital region.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: Genital allergy is considered a possible diagnosis in patients with genital soreness or inflammation where no infection or dermatosis is found and in those whose symptoms stay unchanged or worsen with time. Patients usually report of experiencing no symptoms in the genitals, hence making it an under-reported and under-diagnosed condition.
  • Folliculitis: Folliculitis is a condition in which the hair follicles become infected and inflamed. Razor bumps, hot tub rashes are examples of folliculitis. Characterised by tiny red bumps with a white pus-filled tip, it is relatively harmless despite causing discomfort, and can affect people of all ages.
  • Dermagraphism or skin writing: It is a condition where an eruption appears upon pressure or trauma or scratches to the skin. It occurs in approximately 2% to 5% of the general population. 
  • Lichen sclerosus or lichen planus may cause severe itching around the vulva. It affects 0.1% of children and 3% of women, showing its predominance among women, although it can occur in children and men.

5.STIs causing Vaginal Itching

Sexually transmitted infections fall under a category of infections that can be contracted after sexual contact with someone who has one. Various STIs can cause vaginal itching including:

  • Herpes genitalis: Herpes genitalis is one of the most common STDs. Infected individuals may have no or scarcely apparent symptoms in up to 90 out of 100 cases. In genital herpes, the skin in the genital region can become inflamed and painful, and small blisters can form in small clusters that are prone to tearing. When they heal, they develop into scabs. Women report burning, itching and pain while urinating. 
  • Trichomoniasis: It is an STD caused by a protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. While the disease has a variety of symptoms, most people who are infected are unaware of it. Vaginal discharge, painful intercourse, urinary tract infection symptoms, vaginal itching, and pelvic pain are common symptoms of trichomoniasis in women.
  • Genital warts: They form as tiny bumps or fleshy growths on or around the genitals. At least 1% of the population, ranging between 15 and 49 years of age, has symptomatic warts, with estimates of up to 50% of the population being infected by the human papillomavirus (causing genital warts) at some point in their lives.


A doctor or gynecologist will suggest treatment options once the root cause of the vaginal itching has been established. The medical condition that is causing the itching will determine the type of treatment required.


  • For lichen sclerosus, use a corticosteroid cream like hydrocortisone or clobetasol. Applying a mild corticosteroid cream to the genital region can provide temporary relief. However, the cream should not be applied directly on the vagina and should not be kept on for too long.
  • For bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis, use metronidazole like Flagyl or clindamycin cream. It is an antibiotic that works by preventing bacteria from growing. This drug is used to treat many forms of bacterial infection. It helps with itchiness, discharge, and other symptoms of vaginitis.
  • Antibiotics are used to treat sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Antibiotics like those mentioned above for bacterial infections can destroy bacteria that cause STDs by altering the balance of bacteria in the vagina.
  • Antifungal creams are used for yeast infections. Clotrimazole vaginal cream can kill the yeast causing the yeast infection. It is essential to remove the yeast cells in order to treat a vaginal yeast infection. Antifungal creams kills the yeast, as well as provides relief from itching and burning that comes with yeast infections.
  • Estrogen is used to treat itching caused by hormonal shifts. Estrogen functions in part by raising clear vaginal discharge and improving the health of the vulva and urethra. Applying estrogen to the vaginal area relieves or lessens dryness, soreness, vulva itchiness and redness.
  • Antihistamine is used to treat inflammation or allergic reactions in the vaginal region. It is used to relieve itching and dryness in the vaginal area. If you think the itching is triggered by an allergic reaction,  antihistamines like Piriton, Benadryl, Clarityn, and Zirtek may help.

2.Alternative treatments

  • Applying a cold compress to the region , may help relieve discomfort. Dr. Lauren Streicher mentions, to relieve burning and itchiness, place a cold compress or ice pack to your vulva, such as a bag of frozen peas or frozen juice can wrapped in a towel).
  • Take a sitz bath where the genital and rectal regions are submerged in water. The perineum, which is the space between the rectum and the vulva can be cleansed with a sitz bath which is a warm, shallow bath. In the genital region, a sitz bath can also help with discomfort and itching. Alternatively, to relieve vulvar itching and burning, soak in lukewarm water with 4 to 5 tablespoons of baking soda. Soak for 10 minutes for 1 to 3 times a day. 

Vaginal itching is common and can be caused by a variety of factors. A healthcare professional will normally diagnose the problem and recommend treatment options. In the vast majority of cases, the underlying cause can be addressed.


  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316595#summary

  2. https://www.everydayhealth.com/vaginal-itching/guide/

  3. https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-in/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/symptoms-of-gynecologic-disorders/vaginal-itching-and-discharge

  4. https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/womens-health/vaginal-itching

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