Itchy Down There?
Do you have an itchy sensation below-the-belt? Now, not every woman you see is walking around with an itch, but you’d be surprised at how many are. While an itch can be a nuisance, it serves as an important sensory and self-protective mechanism. Most genital itching and irritation aren’t a major concern, but it ranges from a simple fix like your choice of underwear to a more worrisome reason like a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Occasional vaginal itching is common, and it often resolves itself. While you don’t have to go to the doctor for every unusual itch, it’s best to make an appointment if the symptoms stick around for more than two days. Here are a few reasons you may be itchy down there.
This is probably the most obvious reason. These infections are very common and will happen to three out of four women at some point in their lifetime. The typical symptoms include itching and irritation of the vagina, vaginal pain and soreness and thickened white odor-free discharge with a cottage cheese appearance. Your vagina contains a balanced mix of yeast and bacteria. If the balance is disrupted, a yeast infection can occur. Make an appointment to see your doctor if this is the first time your experiencing a yeast infection, your symptoms aren’t relieved by over-the-counter medication, if you develop other symptoms or if you aren’t sure whether you have a yeast infection.
The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause many uncomfortable physical symptoms. Vaginal dryness could be the source of your itch. The drop in estrogen levels can thin the mucosal lining in your vagina. Estrogen is also related to the production of natural oils that keep your skin moisturized. The lack of this can cause your skin to become thin and itchy. If other causes are ruled out, a doctor may prescribe a vaginal estrogen cream or tablet that helps treat the itch.
This is an itchy allergic reaction to an irritating substance. This may include vaginal lubricants, laundry detergent, scented toilet paper, shampoos and body wash, fabric softeners or tampons and sanitary pads. Long friction from activities while wearing tight clothes or underwear may also cause contact dermatitis. To help the healing process, we recommend soaking in a warm bath with a few tablespoons of baking soda.
This is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by a parasite called trichomoniasis vaginalis. Most people who have this disease (mainly women), are unaware because it often shows no symptoms. It can cause itching, burning, change in discharge or external cracking in the skin. Antifungal over-the-counter medications and douching will make it worse. See your doctor to be tested. This is very easy to cure with an antibiotic if test results are positive. You and your partner should both be treated so you do not re-infect each other.
Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching
Most causes of vaginal itching can be prevented through good hygiene and lifestyle habits. There are several steps that can be taken at home to prevent vaginal itching and irritation.
- Use warm water and a gentle cleanser to wash your genital area.
- Avoid scented soaps, lotions and bubble baths
- Avoid using vaginal sprays or douches.
- Wear cotton underwear and be sure to change them every day.
- Eating fresh cranberries or 100 percent cranberry juice, leafy greens and yogurt.
- Avoid sexual intercourse until your symptoms improve.
- Fight the urge to scratch. Scratching sensitive vaginal tissues may increase irritation and cause infection.
If problems persist, see your doctor or gynecologist for a proper diagnosis.
Editor's note: Please note this blog was originally published on Jan. 24 2020 and has since been updated.