Some common causes of itching, burning and irritation in and around the vaginal area are bacterial or yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), menopause and chemical irritants.
Vaginal pinworm infections can also cause vaginal itching; however, this type of infection is common in children. Excessive stress and a weak immune system can increase the likelihood of suffering from this uncomfortable problem.
In addition to itching and burning sensations, there can be redness and swelling in and around the vagina and vulva. Vaginal discharge and odor may also be present. Often, women also have discomfort during urination or intercourse.To stop vaginal itching, you need to maintain proper hygiene as well as follow a healthy lifestyle and diet. Also, try some simple home remedies to get temporary relief from the symptoms. However, for proper diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor.
What Is Vaginal Itching?
Vaginal itching, sometimes called vaginitis, occurs when the vagina becomes inflamed, often also causing discharge and pain.
Changes in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria, as well as infections, are both common causes of vaginal itching.
Causes of Vaginal Itching
Itching on the skin of the vagina or vulva (area surrounding the vagina) can be a sign of:
- Yeast infection
- Sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis
- Overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina, called bacterial vaginosis
Other causes of vaginal itching may include:
- Menopause or low estrogen levels
- Foreign objects left in the vagina, such as a tampon
- An intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control
- Medications, such as antibiotics and steroids
- Damp or tight-fitting clothing
- Chemicals found in detergents, fabric softeners, feminine sprays, ointments, creams, douches, and contraceptive foams, jellies, or creams
- Skin conditions, such as desquamative vaginitis or lichen planus
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Cancer of the cervix or vagina
- Signs of a Vaginal Infection
The following symptoms may indicate a vaginal infection:
- Pelvic pain
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Green, yellow, or gray discharge
- Foamy or clumpy (like cottage cheese) discharge
- Seek medical attention if you experience any of the above.
Treatment for Vaginal Itching
Medical treatment will depend on the cause of your symptoms, and may include prescribed medications or creams.
The following home remedies may also help relieve your symptoms:
Keeping your genital area clean and dry
Wearing loose-fitting clothing, cotton underwear during the day, and no underwear while sleeping to help your vagina “breathe”
Refraining from using soap, and rinsing the area with water instead
Soaking in a warm (not hot) bath
Avoiding douches, as they eliminate healthy bacteria that help fight infections
Not applying hygiene sprays, fragrances, or powders near the vagina
Using pads instead of tampons if you have an infection
Wiping from front to back when using the toilet
Keeping your blood glucose under control if you have diabetes
Here are a few tips for preventing and treating vaginal irritation at home:
Avoid scented pads or toilet paper, creams, bubble bath, feminine sprays, and douches.
Use water and a plain, unscented soap to regularly clean your external genital area. But don’t wash more than once a day. Doing so can increase dryness.
Always wipe from front to back after having a bowel movement.
Wear cotton panties (no synthetic fabrics), and change your underwear every day.
Do not douche.
Change the diapers of infant girls regularly.
Use condoms during sexual intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, use a vaginal moisturizer. Apply a water-based lubricant (K-Y, Astroglide) before having sex.
Avoid sexual intercourse until your symptoms improve.
Don’t scratch — you can further irritate the area.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for vaginal itching and burning.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a good remedy for treating vaginal itching due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also helps restore the natural pH balance of your vagina.
Add 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water. Use this solution to wash your vagina twice daily for a few days.
Also, add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of raw honey to a glass of warm water and drink it twice daily.
2. Cold Compress
To get instant relief from vaginal itching, use a cold compress. It will help numb the area and reduce the itching and inflammation.
Wrap a few ice cubes in a clean cloth and tie it together.
Put this ice pack on your vagina for a few minutes.
Take a break for 30 seconds and reapply it.
Repeat until the itching stops.
Use this remedy as needed.
You can also rinse the vaginal area with cold water a few times a day.
3. Salt Water Bath
Enjoying a salt-water bath can also relieve vaginal itching. Salt will control the growth of the microbes causing the infection and in turn reduce itching and other discomforts.
Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a glass of water and use it to wash your vagina whenever you feel the itch. This will give you instant relief.
Alternatively, fill your bathtub with warm water and add ½ cup of salt to it. Sit in the water in a squatting position for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 times daily for a few days for best results.
Note: Do not use salt remedies if you have any skin tears or open sores.
Plain, unsweetened yogurt with active cultures is another good remedy to stop itching and burning in and around your vagina. The active cultures can control the spread of infection in the body. It also helps kill yeast and bad bacteria in the vagina and promote the growth of good bacteria.
Dip a tampon in yogurt and insert it in the vagina for two hours. Do this twice daily until you get relief.
Also, eat a few cups of plain, unsweetened yogurt every day.
Garlic contains antibacterial as well as antibiotic properties that can help kill bacteria and yeast. It also improves the immune system and helps the body fight infections.
Dilute a few drops of garlic oil with 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil and apply it on the affected area. Wait 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Use this remedy twice daily for a few weeks.
Chew 3 cloves of raw garlic daily. Alternatively, you can take garlic supplements after consulting a doctor.
6. Indian Lilac
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is a good remedy if you suffer from vaginal itching due to a yeast infection. Its antiseptic properties help fight the infection and reduce itching and other discomforts.
Boil a handful of neem leaves in 2 to 3 cups of filtered water. Strain and allow it to cool. Use this solution to rinse the vaginal area once daily for a few weeks.
Alternatively, add a few drops of neem oil to a bowl of lukewarm water and use it as a rinse for your vagina. Repeat this remedy twice daily for a couple of weeks.
You can also drink neem tea a couple of times daily or take neem capsules after consulting a doctor.
Kefir, a fermented dairy product rich in probiotics, is an effective home treatment for vaginal itching and related symptoms.
The wide variety of probiotic bacteria, particularly lactobacillus and bifidus, in kefir help get rid of the yeast and bad bacteria that cause vaginal infection and itching. This drink also boosts your immune system to prevent infections.
For a vaginal infection, dip a tampon in kefir and insert it in the vagina for two hours. Do this twice daily until you get rid of the problem.
Also, drink 1 to 2 cups of kefir daily for a couple of weeks.
Unpasteurized honey is another effective remedy to stop the itching. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help get rid of any microbial infection that could be causing the problem.
Apply unpasteurized honey as an ointment on the affected area. Leave it on for about 30 minutes, then take a bath in warm water. Repeat at least twice a day until the symptoms improve.
Also, eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of unpasteurized honey with a glass of warm water twice daily.
9. Cranberry Juice
Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice also helps treat vaginal irritation and itching. Cranberries create an acidic environment that helps inhibit the growth of yeast and bacteria.
In addition, it helps prevent urinary tract infections and other kinds of bladder infections.
Drink about 2 glasses of unsweetened cranberry juice daily until the itching has stopped.
If cranberry juice is not available, you can take cranberry tablets twice daily. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
10. Boric Acid
Boric acid can also provide relief from vaginal itching and the irritation, thanks to its antiseptic and antifungal properties.
Dilute some boric acid with water.
Apply the solution over the affected area.
Leave it on for 1 to 2 minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly with warm water.
Follow this remedy once daily for a couple of weeks.
- Keep the vaginal area dry as much as possible. Moisture around your vagina will worsen the condition.
- Maintain good hygiene to prevent vaginal itching. After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back.
- Wear only cotton underwear and change it twice daily.
- If possible, sleep without underwear until the itching has subsided.
- Avoid bubble baths, scented sanitary pads and any other chemical irritants.
- Do not douche or use harsh soaps to wash your vagina. Also, resist the temptation to scratch the itching area.
- Avoid intercourse until the itching has stopped.
- After exercising or swimming, take a shower immediately.
- Eat foods high in vitamin C to strengthen the immune system. This will reduce infections in the body.
- Avoid sugar when suffering from chronic vaginal itching caused by yeast infection.
- Your doctor can treat vaginal yeast infections with antifungal medications. These come in various forms, including creams, ointments, or pills. They’re available by prescription or over the counter. However, if your doctor has never diagnosed you with a yeast infection, make sure to speak with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication.
- Doctors often treat BV with antibiotics. These may come as pills you take orally or as creams you insert into your vagina. Regardless of the type of treatment you use, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and to complete the full round of medication.
- You can treat STDs with antibiotics, antivirals, or antiparasitics. You’ll need to take your medications regularly and avoid sexual intercourse until your infection or disease clears.
- Menopause-related itching may be treated with estrogen cream, tablets, or a vaginal ring insert.
- Other types of vaginal itching and irritation often clear on their own. In the meantime, you can apply steroid creams or lotions to reduce inflammation and ease discomfort. However, you should limit how much you use them because they can also lead to chronic irritation and itching if you overuse them.