Is Your Vagina Dry and Itchy? Here’s What You Need To Know
Published Nov 23, 2020
Most women will experience itching on and around their vagina as they would with other body parts. It’s not something uncommon, and it could even be inevitable to some extent. In many cases, this vaginal itching will be nothing more than a temporary nuisance, but it could also be a signal of a condition that’s more serious. But like any condition or infection, treating the underlying cause will solve it as well.
Vaginal itching is typically the result of exposure to irritants, infections, or menopause. In some cases, skin disorders, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or even vulvar cancer. If you suspect your vaginal itching to be a symptom of something more serious or if it severely impacts your quality of life, you should talk to your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
Common causes of vaginal itching
Like other regions of the skin, exposing the vagina to various irritants can cause itching. These irritants can cause aggressive allergic reactions, which can cause rashes to appear on the surface of your skin. According to WebMD, these are the twelve most common skin irritants:
- Household cleaners
- Fabric dryer sheets
- Creams and ointments
Other things may also cause itchings, such as trying out a new lubricant or spermicide. Introducing or exposing your vagina to unfamiliar products is quite the common cause for irritation to occur.
Eczema and psoriasis are skin conditions that have been heavily linked to vaginal itching in the past.
Otherwise known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a common condition among people with asthma and allergies. It’s an umbrella term that doctors use to refer to several types of skin swelling. This condition causes dry and itchy skin, as well as rashes on different parts of the body. The cause of eczema remains unknown, but experts believe it has something to do with genetics and environmental factors.
Psoriasis, on the other hand, is a chronic autoimmune skin disease that causes scaly, itchy, and red patches to form. Both these conditions are quite capable of spreading symptoms to the vagina too.
Also known as candidiasis, this infection is due to a type of yeast called Candida. Candida can reside within the vagina, and it doesn’t necessarily cause problems all the time. According to Mayo Clinic, this condition is a very common one, affecting about 75% of women. Vaginal candidiasis is the specific term for when the yeast infection is afflicting the vagina, and its symptoms include the following:
- vaginal itching or soreness
- pain during sexual intercourse
- painful urination
- abnormal vaginal discharge
The infection typically occurs after a course of antibiotics. Aside from killing off harmful bacteria, these medications also kill some good ones, which are needed to keep the infection at bay.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Most, if not all, sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginal itching. As you might already know, STDs can be contracted through unprotected sex and can potentially bring with them a large number of unwanted symptoms. The typical STDs that can cause vaginal itching include:
Besides vaginal itching, these STDs can cause abnormal discharge, abnormal growths like lesions, and flu-like symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the single most common vaginal condition among women aged 15-44, according to the CDC. This condition’s cause isn’t very well-known, but BV is found to be more widespread in sexually active women. Like yeast infections, BV is said to occur when an imbalance of bacteria occurs. Other symptoms that tend to accompany itching include inflammation, discharge, burning, and a fishy-smelling odor.
In rare cases, vulvar cancer may be the culprit behind vaginal itching. This is cancer that develops in the vulva, the external portion of the female genitalia. This condition will not always exhibit symptoms, but when it does, itching and pain in the vulvar area are to be expected.
The last but certainly not the least likely cause of vaginal itching and dryness is menopause. We’ve been talking all about vaginal itching throughout this article, but when it comes to the vagina drying up, menopause is the leading culprit.
Naturally, the inner walls of the vagina are kept moist with a layer of clear liquid. It stays lubricated, healthy, and elastic through the hormone estrogen and a decrease, causing the vagina to be dry. Vaginal dryness is one of the main symptoms of menopause, with one in every three women experiencing it when undergoing menopause.
Treating the vaginal itching and dryness will mean treating the underlying condition causing them.
Eczema is still an incurable disease, but there are several things you can do to reduce its severity. Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment to you to control itching and repair skin. You may also need to take antibiotics to fight infections. Here’s a comprehensive guide in navigating eczema.
Your doctor may prescribe you corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar, Goeckerman therapy, or anthralin to treat psoriasis.
Antifungal medications in the form of creams, ointments, tablets, or suppositories may be useful against yeast infections. Fluconazole might also work as a single-dose oral medication.
Sexually transmitted diseases
STD treatments include antibiotic and antiviral medication, depending on the source of the disease.
Your doctor may prescribe you one of the following to treat BV:
According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are effective treatments for menopause:
- hormone therapy
- vaginal estrogen
- low-dose antidepressants
- medications to treat osteoporosis
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