What Are the Possible Causes of Vaginal Itching?

From Allergies to Infections, What You Can Do To Avoid Itching Down There

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Are you here because you're experiencing itching and general discomfort in your vagina and/or the vulvar skin that surrounds the vagina? There's nothing to be embarrassed about. Almost all women experience vaginal itching at some point in their lives.

And that's because there are so many things that can irritate the sensitive skin of the vulva and vagina. The list of possible causes of vaginal itching is vast.

Here are a few of the most common causes:

How Allergies and General Skin Irritation Can Contribute to Vaginal Itching

The chemicals in certain products can cause irritation or even an allergic reaction that might result in itching. Common culprits include laundry detergent and fabric softeners; bath soaps and deodorants; ointments, creams, and lotions; vaginal douches; and foams and jellies used during intercourse.

How Vaginal Itching Can Be a Symptom of a Larger ​Vaginal Infection 

Vaginal yeast infections are known for their infuriating side effect of intense vaginal itching. Common causes of vaginal yeast infections include the use of antibiotics or the pill, sexual intercourse (with or without condom usage), menstruation, pregnancy, diabetes, and a weakened immune system. It can also be caused by dietary or hormonal issues.

Other vaginal infections and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including bacterial vaginosis (BV), genital herpes, trichomoniasis, and pubic lice, may also be to blame.

In addition to itching, bacterial vaginosis is often accompanied by runny vaginal discharge and a fishy odor after sex. Trichomoniasis also causes a change in vaginal discharge, along with strong vaginal odor and vaginal itching.

Vaginal Itching Is Just One Symptom of Vaginitis

Women who have vaginitis, also known as inflammation of the vagina, may experience vaginal discharge, vaginal odor, and inflammation along with their itching.

Vaginitis frequently occurs in girls who have not yet reached puberty; however, it’s important to rule out STDs and to determine whether sexual abuse has occurred if these symptoms become evident.

How Stress Can Contribute to Vaginal Itching

Stress is a frequent contributor to the development of many health conditions, including vaginal itchiness. If you’re experiencing stress, learning some stress relieving techniques such as yoga or meditation may help to reduce or prevent vaginal itching.

Why Vaginal Itching Is Common During Menopause

Perimenopausal women approaching menopause, in addition to women approaching the post-menopause years, frequently experience vaginal itching. Menopause-related vaginal itching usually occurs in association with vaginal dryness.

Other Possible Causes of Vaginal Itching

Other possible, but less common, causes of vaginal or vulvar itching include the presence of other skin conditions that may or may not be precancerous, or even pinworms, a condition that primarily infects children.

Notify your doctor immediately if you experience vaginal itching accompanied by severe pelvic or lower abdominal pain, and / or a fever.

If you have an itchy vagina, or any genital itching, it's always a good idea to visit a doctor, as it might not always be clear what is causing the itching. A doctor can screen you for STIs and other infections.

That said, some women are very susceptible to recurrent yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Those women may be able to treat their vaginal itching successfully with over the counter medication. However, it's still a good idea for them to keep their doctors informed. Sometimes, what seems like a recurrent infection is something else entirely. 


Medline Encyclopedia; Vaginal Itching – Common Causes; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/MEDLINEPLUS/ency/article/003159.htm#Common%20Causes; accessed 06/11/09.
Women’s Health.gov; Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Frequently Asked Questions; http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/sexually-transmitted-infections.cfm; accessed 06/16/09.

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