Vaginal itching in the vagina and of the external part of the vagina, the vulva, can be very uncomfortable and is often associated with "vulvovaginitis". Vulvovaginitis can affect women in every age group, though it's often seen in girls before puberty. Vaginal itching or vulvovaginitis can have many causes such as irritants like a chemical, or by an infectious agent. Rashes caused by various chemicals found in bubble baths, feminine sprays, perfumes, and harsh soaps, can bring on vulvovaginitis, as can heat rashes caused by tight-fitting or irritating clothing, and non-absorbent clothing. Once the area is irritated, then the tissue is more susceptible to infection than normal tissue.
There is a very good chance that every woman will suffer from vaginal and vulva itching at some point in life. Most often, vaginal itching is uncomfortable but needs no treatment, though there can be other causes that may require medical intervention. If vaginal discharge is a problem, laboratory tests can be run to rule out serious illnesses or conditions to help ease a woman’s mind.
Causes of vaginal itching:
- Normal hormone changes during menstrual cycle
- Vaginal infections (eg, Bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast)
- Sexually transmitted infections (eg, chlamydia or gonorrhea, trichomoniasis)
- Medications such as antibiotic or steroid use
- Birth control pills
- Cervical cancer
- Lichen Sclerosus
- Medical problems (eg, Diabetes)
- Douches, scented soaps or lotions, bubble bath
- Pelvic infections (eg, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID))
- Menopause (eg, vaginal atrophy)
- Vaginitis, irritation in or around the vagina
- Serious problems like pre-cancer or cancer of the vagina and vulva
Your doctor will first ask you some questions and do some tests to try and diagnose the cause of the vaginal discharge.
Many infection-causing organisms thrive in environments that are warm, damp, and dark. Not only can these factors contribute to the cause of vulvovaginitis, they frequently prolong the recovery period. Among the organisms often responsible for vulvaginitis is candida albicans, or yeast. Sexually-transmitted diseases and other organisms such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, garnerella, and trichomonas can also cause vulvovaginitis.
Pinworms can cause itching in the rectal area, where scratching may cause bacterial spread to the vagina. Strep or staph bacteria, which may be found in the nose and transferred on the fingers, are also associated with some cases.