Itching in the vagina
Many women experience one-time or repetitive vaginal itching in the course of their lives. Persistent itching, in particular, is often a warning symptom to indicate an infection.
In addition to itching, other symptoms such as burning sensation, pain and discomfort when urinating or having sexual intercourse may occur. Redness, swelling, blisters, nodules and oozing spots can also accompany the itching.
Some of the causes of uncomfortable itching in the vaginal area include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Allergies, for example contact allergies to latex, nickel, fragrances
- After taking antibiotics
- Lichen planus (lichen planus)
- Fungal infections: thrush / candidiasis
- Bacterial infections: gonorrhea, chlamydia
- Parasitic infections: trichomoniasis, scabies (scabies), pubic lice
- Viral infections: genital herpes (genital herpes)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Iron deficiency
- Lack of estrogen
- Sweat gland tumors (syringomas, benign)
- Vulvar cancer
- cervical cancer
Both physical and psychological causes can trigger vaginal dryness. Women of any age can be affected.
In addition to itching, vaginal dryness often includes pain during intercourse, burning sensation in the skin, and a burning sensation when urinating. In addition, vaginal dryness makes it easier for pathogens to colonize the vagina and can thus lead to unpleasant infections. A common cause is a lack of estrogen, which occurs particularly during menopause. But even after pregnancy and while breastfeeding, through certain medications, radiation or chemotherapy, and through stress, the body's estrogen production can decrease. Estrogen plays an important role in the production of vaginal fluid, which keeps the vagina moist and protects it from pathogens.
So if there is a lack of estrogen, this makes the vagina dry. Certain diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and autoimmune diseases can also cause a dry vagina. Certain contraceptives, the consumption of alcohol, smoking and excessive hygiene of the genital area with aggressive soaps and creams can also trigger or intensify dryness by changing the pH value of the vagina.
Vaginal fungal infections (Genital thrush) are one of the most common causes of an itchy vagina. The most common pathogen is Candida albicans, which is why one speaks of candidiasis. Symptoms of a genital indoor are itching and burning of the vagina, whitish evidence, reddened vaginal skin, and a crumbly discharge. Candida fungi colonize the skin or mucous membranes in small numbers in many people without causing symptoms. Infection only occurs when the immune system is disturbed. A frequent cause is therefore stress. But this can also be the case with diseases such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes or alcoholism. In addition, hormonal changes during pregnancy can disrupt the immune system.
Medicines are also common reasons. Antibiotics can disturb the balance between fungi and bacteria and lead to overgrowth of fungi. Immunosuppressants, cortisone or chemotherapy, on the other hand, directly weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility. Candidiasis is diagnosed by a swab of the vaginal mucosa and subsequent detection of the pathogen.
So-called antimycotics (antifungal agents) are used for therapy, such as nystatin. For vaginal thrush, local treatments with ointments or suppositories are usually sufficient. Since candidiasis is contagious, a condom should always be used during sexual intercourse to protect against infection.
Read more on the topic:
- Symptoms of vaginal thrush
- What drugs are there for vaginal thrush?
After taking antibiotics
Antibiotics are used to treat various bacterial diseases. These include, for example, infections of the upper respiratory tract, pneumonia, tonsillitis or urinary tract infections.
The use of an antibiotic only makes sense if a bacterial infection is very likely or diagnosed. Unfortunately, antibiotics can attack the vaginal environment and promote vaginal thrush there. The reason for this is as follows: Antibiotics should target the pathogenic bacteria as specifically as possible, but unfortunately it is inevitable that bacteria that are part of the healthy skin and mucous membrane flora are also destroyed.
Therapy with antibiotics can attack the Döderlein bacteria and other “good” bacteria in the vaginal mucous membrane and lead to an imbalance in the vaginal environment.
This favors an infection with vaginal thrush or other bacteria, which can lead to itching. The complaints should not be ignored, but reported to the treating doctor. He or she can then adjust the therapy and treat the vaginal infection as well.
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An allergy can be directed to many substances. Contact allergies, in particular, often trigger itching. In addition, so-called contact dermatitis leads to reddened, swollen and oozing skin.
Often these allergies are triggered by nickel, latex, fragrances, preservatives and cleaning agents. The allergy only develops over time through repeated contact and occurs after a delay of at least 12 hours after contact. The symptoms usually occur in the area that was in contact with the so-called allergen. For treatment, the allergenic substance should primarily be avoided. Furthermore, creams and ointments with glucocorticoids or antihistamines can be applied locally and the area can be cooled. If these methods are not sufficient, these agents can also be administered in tablet form.
Read more on this topic at: Latex allergy
Lichen planus, or lichen planus, is an inflammatory skin disease. It is one of the most common dermatological diseases between the ages of 30 and 60. It is characterized by bluish-reddish knots with a white reticulate mark on the surface. The rash can be asymptomatic to very painful and is often very itchy. Scratching can worsen the lichen and create new nodules on the skin.
Nodular lichen can appear on the entire surface of the skin and on the mucous membrane. The causes of lichen planus are unknown, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disease. The nodules often go away on their own after a while. In the genital area, the lichen is often more stubborn. Cortisone creams are used for therapy, with which the affected areas of the skin are rubbed. If the infestation is particularly pronounced, the tissue can also be injected with cortisone or an administration of cortisone in tablet form can be considered. Cooling helps to relieve the itching.
Read more on this topic at: Lichen Ruber - causes, symptoms, therapy, prognosis
Gonorrhea (gonorrhea) is a sexually transmitted disease. It is triggered by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Gonococci).
These can affect the entire urogenital area and have an incubation period of 2-4 days. Many infections have few or no symptoms. The first symptoms are often symptoms of urination; if the infection is not treated, it can lead to infertility. The lining of the vagina cannot become infected except in postmenopausal women and children. Penicillin is given for treatment. However, since many resistances to this antibiotic have emerged, the cephalosporin cefaxime is now the first choice in Germany. Treatment should be given to both sexes.
The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis D-K are the most common sexually transmitted diseases.
A disease can be symptom-free.Symptoms for women are often problems and a burning sensation when urinating, vaginal discharge, intermenstrual bleeding and abdominal pain. Ascending infections can cause the fallopian tubes to fuse and is the main cause of sterility in Western countries. Urine samples or swabs are needed for diagnosis. Chlamydia are antibiotic with Tetracycline, doxycycline, or erythromycin treated for at least 10 days. The sexual partner must also be treated in order to prevent re-infection.
Read more on this topic at: Chlamydial infection
Genital herpes infection is caused by herpes simplex viruses (HSV) and is a sexually transmitted disease.
This can be subspecies 1, but HSV-2 is a more common cause of genital infections. The herpes viruses remain in the body for life after being infected and can therefore repeatedly lead to acute attacks. The symptoms are usually most severe after the initial infection. This leads to painful blistering of the mucous membrane. These vesicles burst after a short time, leaving flat, crusty ulcers. The changes in the skin become noticeable through burning and itching of the mucous membrane and usually heal after 2-4 weeks. During this time the skin lesions are highly contagious. A complete elimination of viruses is not possible. Therapy with the antiviral acyclovir can reduce the symptoms and shorten the course.
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Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by parasites (itch mites). It is transmitted through direct skin contact or shared laundry. The mites can survive outside their host (humans) for up to 36 hours. Symptoms show up around two to six weeks after infection. This includes severe itching, skin changes such as redness and flaking and nodules.
The affected areas of the skin can also be infected with bacteria. Poor hygiene and a large number of people living in one place make it easier to spread. So-called antiskabiosa, such as allethrin or permethrin, are used for treatment. These are administered locally as creams or sprays, and in severe cases also in the form of tablets. In addition, a daily change of linen must be ensured in order to avoid renewed infections.
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Iron deficiency can lead to anemia (anemia). In iron deficiency anemia, the iron is lacking for the correct and sufficient formation of new red blood cells. This iron deficiency can result from bleeding (for example during menstruation), a diet low in iron, an increased iron requirement (during pregnancy or growth) or impaired iron absorption due to illnesses or medication. Patients with iron deficiency anemia often feel weak, pale, have headaches, dizziness, brittle nails, dry and itchy skin, hair loss, burning tongue, cracked corners of the mouth and loss of appetite.
A source of bleeding (e.g. gastric ulcer) must first be excluded for therapy. In addition, a diet containing iron and vitamin C should be aimed for. If this is not enough, iron can be administered through supplements.
Read more about this:
- Symptoms of iron deficiency
- This is how you fix an iron deficiency
Lack of estrogen
Estrogen plays an important role in women in the menstrual cycle, in fertilization and in pregnancy. A deficiency therefore has serious consequences for women. It can be caused by natural (menopause), pathological (kidney failure) or hormonal contraception (minipill).
An estrogen deficiency can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, vaginal dryness, sweating, itching, dry mucous membranes, osteoporosis, incontinence and hair loss. Depending on the symptoms present, the treatment is very different. Simple remedies such as suppositories and creams for vaginal dryness, eye drops, endurance sports or dietary supplements can alleviate mild discomfort. If the symptoms are severe, hormone replacement therapy can be considered.
Read more on this topic at: Lack of estrogen
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that leads to high blood sugar levels.
A distinction is made between two forms of diabetes, type 1 and 2. In 95% of cases, type 2 diabetes is present, which often only occurs in adulthood. With type 1 there is a lack of insulin, with type 2 the body cells are less sensitive to insulin. Symptoms are strong thirst, cravings, increased urination, fatigue, itching and an increased susceptibility to infections.
Untreated diabetes leads to damage to the blood vessels and thus increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and circulatory disorders. The goal of treatment is normalization of blood sugar. With type 1 insulin is given regularly, with type 2 general measures such as a change in diet, weight reduction and physical activity can be helpful at the beginning. If these measures are not sufficient, oral antidiabetic drugs such as metformin can be taken; in a second step, insulin therapy can be useful.
Further information on this:
- Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus
- Treatment of diabetes
Vaginal cancer is a very rare malignant tumor disease of the female genital area. It occurs preferentially in older women.
Symptoms often only appear in advanced stages. Symptoms include unusual discharge, bleeding between periods or after intercourse, painful urination, and irregular stool. Connections to surrounding organs can form.
The therapy depends on the stage of the disease. In the lower stages, radical surgery and radiation is carried out. In higher stages, surgery is only performed if the tumor can be completely removed. All pelvic organs may need to be removed. Irradiation takes place in each case.
If the vagina itches during pregnancy, a doctor should always be consulted. Since an itchy vagina is often a sign of infection, extra care should be taken during pregnancy. The infections can rise and the pathogens colonize the amniotic sac. This increases the risk of premature rupture of the bladder and the associated risk of premature birth by a factor of five. The pathogens cause the amniotic sac to become more sensitive and burst earlier. In the worst case, the infection can spread to the mother or the unborn child and thus lead to life-threatening complications. To avoid these complications, infections should be treated consistently.
Allergies or excessive hygiene are primarily not dangerous for the unborn child. However, since these promote infections, the allergen should be avoided and adequate hygiene should be sought.
Since the hormonal situation is changed during pregnancy, a lack of estrogen and thus vaginal dryness can occur. Since this also promotes infections, local hormone therapy with suppositories or ointments should be carried out.
What might also interest you: Vaginal fungus in pregnancy
Discharge as an accompanying symptom
Many vaginal diseases manifest themselves as changes in the natural discharge. The increased discharge is also referred to as fluorine vaginalis in medical terminology.
Often, a crumbly, white discharge accompanies a yeast infection. The greasy, solid discharge is often accompanied by an unpleasant odor. There is a strong suspicion of a fungal infection associated with vaginal itch.
Another cause of vaginal itching and increased and altered discharge is bacterial vaginosis. It is characterized by a very thin, whitish and increased discharge. The discharge typically has a fishy odor, which is why the condition is also known as amine colpitis. A frothy green discharge that smells unpleasant is found in so-called trichomonas colpitis. This vaginal infection is caused by the bacterium Trichomonas vaginalis and in some cases is also accompanied by itching.
A lack of estrogen, which particularly affects menopausal women, also leads to excruciating itching of the vagina. However, estrogen deficiency is typically associated with vaginal dryness and decreased vaginal discharge.
Read more on the topic: Discharge from the vagina
Burning in the vagina as an accompanying symptom
A burning sensation in the vagina often occurs with or as a result of itching. As with itching, common causes are infection with fungi, bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Incorrect intimate hygiene or allergies can also be the cause of the burning sensation. Some of these pathogens can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, but sometimes they are also part of the normal vaginal flora and multiply excessively if there is an imbalance. This imbalance can be triggered by a change in the pH value (normal: 3.8-4.4), the destruction of important bacteria or changes in the discharge and thus increases the risk of infection.
A burning sensation in the vagina is typical when infected with trichomonads. The burning sensation then typically increases during intercourse. Often, sexual intercourse is not possible because of the burning sensation (dyspareunia).
An infection with a vaginal yeast infection is often characterized by simultaneous itching and burning of the vagina, as well as a burning sensation when urinating. Due to the pain, wearing tight clothes or sitting for long periods can be perceived as very uncomfortable.
Itching and burning sensation are also typical symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
The clinical pictures can be differentiated from each other through additional examinations, such as swabs from the vagina. Only treating the cause can alleviate the symptoms. Attempts to treat with home remedies should be avoided, as they can only damage the affected vaginal environment additionally.
Read more on this topic at: Burning in the genital area
What helps with itching in the vagina?
Vaginal itching can occur in the context of various diseases and is then perceived as very uncomfortable by most of those affected. However, you should definitely refrain from treating the itchiness with home remedies.
Unfortunately, these cannot relieve the itchiness. In addition, it can damage the sensitive vaginal environment. Cortisone ointments should also not be used.
Treatment of the underlying disease helps against itching in the vagina. In the vast majority of cases, the itching is a vaginal infection. Mostly fungi are responsible. In the case of mild fungal infections, over-the-counter anti-fungal creams and vaginal suppositories, such as KadeFungin®, can help very well against the symptoms.
Usually an improvement occurs within a few hours. More stubborn fungal infections, however, require prescription therapy with fungicidal suppositories, creams or even tablets.
Apart from the fungal vaginal infection, bacterial vaginosis is also a very common cause of vaginal itching. This imbalance in the vaginal flora is treated with antibiotics. Careful care of the genital area is very important in order not to aggravate the symptoms, especially with damaged vaginal flora and vaginal itching. Even if the causal disease is accompanied by an unpleasant vaginal odor, you should definitely refrain from washing the vagina with shower gel or soap. This can only make the itching worse. Cleaning the genital area with clear, lukewarm water is sufficient. Furthermore, you should avoid satin, lace or polyester underwear, as these can further intensify the itching. On the other hand, simple cotton is recommended.
The therapy for vaginal dryness is also very different. If there is a lack of estrogen, creams, suppositories or gels that are applied topically help in most cases. In more severe cases, for example during the menopause, when other symptoms arise, hormone therapy with progestin-estrogen preparations can be used. If the vaginal dryness is due to an illness, it should be treated as best as possible. Means that supply lactic acid, such as suppositories, help to restore the natural pH value of the vagina. For intimate hygiene, it is sufficient to clean the intimate region once or twice a day with lukewarm water. If care products are used, care should be taken to ensure that they are mild and with a low pH value.
Home remedies for itching in the vagina
The simplest remedy for an itchy vagina is to wear cotton underwear that is not too tight, boilable. Since this can absorb moisture, it prevents the development of a too humid climate. If possible, it should be changed twice a day to prevent the growth of pathogens.
For this reason, hygiene products such as pads or tampons should also be changed regularly. Washing the vagina with aggressive soaps and lotions should be avoided as these irritate the skin. Instead, you can simply use lukewarm water or mild care products.
Another remedy for itching is aloe vera. The ingredients of the plant care for and cool the vaginal mucosa. The juice, gel or a pulp of the plant can be used here. Sitz baths with chamomile or oak bark also have anti-inflammatory and soothing effects. Since lactic acid bacteria can bring the flora back into balance, natural yoghurt without additives can help against itching.
Itching in the vagina can occur in the context of various diseases. In this context, acute clinical pictures, such as a fungal infection or bacterial vaginosis, clearly predominate.
Vaginal or vulvar carcinomas or chronic diseases such as lichen sclerosus are far less common. However, the duration of the vaginal itching depends heavily on the underlying cause and the treatment that has been carried out. An untreated vaginal infectious disease leads to persistent itching. Unfortunately, this does not go away without proper treatment.
When initiating a fungicidal or antibiotic therapy, however, the itching usually subsides very quickly. Improvements can be expected within a few hours. After about two to three days, the itching usually disappears completely.
Very rarely, malignant tumors can cause persistent itching. Typically, this type of itching does not improve despite various therapy attempts and then at some point leads to the suspected diagnosis of a tumor.