An itch can be irritating and uncomfortable no matter where it is on your body. However, having an itchy vagina might be awkward to deal with when you’re in public and, if severe enough, it could disrupt your sleep. You should try to avoid scratching the area as this will only irritate it further and make it more itchy, though this is much easier said than done.
What is an itch?
This type of skin irritation can come out of nowhere and you might think that most itches aren’t caused by anything, but people have studied why we itch and what the purpose is. Some believe that animals itch to get insects and parasites off their skin, and our desire to scratch may originate from this instinct.
Most itches are caused by something that is irritating or tickling our skin. This could be a label in a piece of clothing, a hair that’s fallen off your head or a reaction to a product that you’ve used, such as a moisturiser. However, scratching the area can make the problem worse or could damage your skin.
Some common causes of itchy skin include allergies, eczema, head lice and pregnancy.
What causes itching in the vagina?
Just like any itch, vaginal itching is likely caused by irritation of the skin. This could be a result of products that you use, materials you wear or an infection. In some cases, the itching may go away on its own, but depending on the cause, it may persist.
The first thing you should rule out is irritation from products. The skin around your vulva (the external sex organs) and in your vagina is very sensitive and there are certain materials or products that could irritate it.
Products that could irritate the vaginal area include condoms, soap, washing powder, scented toilet paper or scented tampons and sanitary pads. When you’re trying to determine the cause of the itching, you should swap these products out one at a time if you use them regularly. For example, you could switch to a mild washing powder or use normal toilet paper instead of a scented variety. You may find that the itching goes away.
If it is still there, you may have a vaginal infection. Vaginal infections are relatively common and aren’t usually a cause for concern. Treatments differ depending on the type of infection, so you should go to your doctor for treatment advice.
There are various sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause itching, including Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Trichomoniasis and Gonorrhoea. If you believe that you have an STI, you should consult your doctor for advice and treatment.
Another possible cause of vaginal itching is a yeast infection, such as Thrush. The yeast present in the vagina is mainly harmless, however it can begin to multiply and this could lead to Thrush. Symptoms include thick white discharge that has a consistency similar to cottage cheese, burning during sex and itching and irritation.
Itching could also be a result of the menopause. During this period of your life, your natural oestrogen levels decrease, and this can cause the vaginal walls to become thinner and dryer. It is this dryness that can increase irritation in the vagina and lead to itching.
All of the above can cause Vaginitis, which is inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can result in itching and may be uncomfortable. Treatment will vary depending on the cause of the itching, so consult your doctor about your symptoms.
How to soothe vaginal itching
Soothing the itching will depend on what’s causing it. If it’s triggered by irritation, you may want to try wearing cotton underwear. This will allow the skin to breathe. You should also avoid wearing any underwear or tight-fitting clothes at night. If your crotch area becomes too warm in the night, it becomes the perfect environment for yeast to grow, which could turn into Thrush. You could either wear cotton pyjamas or nothing at all.
To prevent vaginal infections in the future, you could try taking probiotics in tablet form. They could increase the number of ‘good’ bacteria in your vagina, which will help to prevent some of the conditions we’ve listed above. Yoghurt also contains good bacteria, so you could try eating more of this food.
Finally, having good vaginal hygiene is essential in order to keep the area healthy and free from irritation or infection. Wash your vulva with a mild wash foam that doesn’t contain soaps or colourants. This will help to restore your vagina’s natural pH level and soothe and moisturise the area to relieve you of persistent itching.