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Other Names:
Pruritus Vulvae, Itching in Vaginal Area, Vulvar Itching
Vaginal Itching

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Definition

Persistent itching of the vagina and the surrounding area of skin (vulva).

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Causes

  • A chemical irritant or medication (including detergents and fabric softeners, chemical sprays, ointments, creams, douches, and contraceptive foams)
  • Vaginal infection in conjunction with antibiotic use
  • Vaginal yeast infection
  • Trichomonas vaginitis
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Menopause, as a result of decreasing levels of estrogen
  • Pruritus vulvae
  • Non-specific vulvovaginitis
  • Pinworms
  • Lichen sclerosis
  • Certain skin conditions of the vulvar skin

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Implications

Itching in the vaginal and vulval area can be a very distressing and embarrassing problem. Persistent scratching due to itching can cause sores or ulcers and lead to superimposed bacterial infection.

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What You Can Do

  • Antifungal drugs may be prescribed for vaginal yeast infections.

  • Steroid creams to inserted into the vagina or topically applied to the vulva may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.
  • Ointments containing hormones (estrogen) may be indicated either to be inserted inside the vagina or applied to the skin of vulva. This form of treatment is often indicated for atrophic vaginitis.
  • Sedatives such as benzodiazepines or antihistamines may be prescribed for the relief of itching especially during the night.
  • Keep the genital area clean and dry.
  • Avoid douches as they may worsen the condition
  • Use mild, unscented soap and body washes.
  • Take showers rather than tub baths.
  • Avoid overexertion, heat, and excessive sweating.
  • Wear cotton panties or pantyhose with a cotton crotch lining; avoid wearing nylon panties.
  • Change out of wet clothing, especially wet bathing suits or exercise clothing, as soon as possible after completion of the activity.
  • Wear loose fitting and cotton sleep wear.
  • Avoid broad-spectrum antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
  • Eat yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, or take acidophilus tablets when taking antibiotics. These substances, known as probiotics encourage the growth of normal vaginal flora (friendly bugs) that might have been suppressed by antibiotic use.
  • After urination or bowel movements, cleanse by wiping or washing from front to back (vagina to anus).
  • Lose weight if you are over weight.
  • Avoid scratching in tha vaginal or vulval area, this may only aggravate the problem.
  • Sexual activity might need to be delayed until the problem causing itching is completely relieved.

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Vaginal Itching