Home Women Vaginal Itch Itchy Labia or Itchy Vaginal Lips, Vulva Causes, Treatment, Cure No Smell,...

Itchy Labia or Itchy Vaginal Lips, Vulva Causes, Treatment, Cure No Smell, Not Thrush Feminine Itch

An itchy vagina or vulva itch is commonly caused by yeast infections. However, some STDs, a broken skin on labia lips and even rough waxing can cause vaginal itching. The irritation of labia may be accompanied by a white or brown discharge, or no discharge at all. Here are all the possible causes of an itchy vaginal area and how to treat feminine itch fast.

Itching and irritation in the crotch area can cause a lot of discomfort. Sometimes it skin irritation in the pubic area is embarrassing. Mild and non-persistent itch in the genital area (clitoris, vulva, labia majora and minora and vaginal opening) can be normal. But when it is persistent and intense, it is likely to be a sign of an infection. Diagnosis and treatment may be required as soon as possible.Itchy vagina, labia lips and itchy vulva causes and treatment

According to gynecologist Dr. Wendy Askew, MD, the two most likely causes of an itchy vagina are bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Yeast infections are frequently caused by altered pH of the vaginal area. Here are all the causes and possible treatments of feminine itch with or with no discharge.

Itchy vagina causes

Bacterial infections, yeast infections and sometimes a broken skin after rough intercourse or waxing can all produce symptoms of irritation in the female genital area. However, some women may complain of itching labia after birth, at night and after showers.

While infections may be serious, mild and less serious causes of vaginal irritation may include allergic reactions to some soaps and fabrics etc. Showering and swimming in chlorine water can also cause itchy vaginal lips, inner thighs and even anus.

1. Vaginal yeast infection

Yeast infections are also called vaginal candidiasis. According to WebMD, “About three out of every four women will develop a yeast infection at some point in their lives.” The symptoms of fungal infections in the vaginal area are similar to other types of infections, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation in the vaginal area
  • Persistent itching on the vulva and inside the vagina
  • A thick white discharge
  • A sore rash may develop on the crotch area

Eating a lot of sugary foods, stress, a weak immune system and uncontrolled diabetes are major causes of Candida albicans – a strand of yeast that causes vaginal candidiasis. Women who are pregnant are at a higher risk of getting the yeast. Some strong antibiotic medications can also leave you prone to this kind of infection.

Yeast infections are easily treated, but it is important to see a doctor if you have severe itching of the vagina, labia and vulvar area for proper diagnosis and treatment.

2. Bacterial infections

A bacterial infection in the vagina is also called bacterial vaginosis (BV). It is caused by changes and imbalances in the amount of certain bacteria in the vagina. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is not common for women with BV to show symptoms. However when present, the symptoms of bacterial infections in the female pubic area include the following.

  • Severe vulvar itching and irritation
  • Gray or white vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal odor or fish-like smell. Sometimes the smell is described as rotten cheese smell.
  • Burning of vagina
  • Abnormal consistency of the vaginal fluid
  • Vaginal discharge that is cloudy, bloody, white, yellow, or green” [MedicineNet.com]

You should see your doctor if you have severe symptoms of itchy labia and discharge. Pregnant women should see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid further complications during the course of their pregnancy.

3. Itchy labia from broken skin and tearing

The skin around the vulva is delicate and soft. Dehydration and trauma can easily cause it to crack. Irritation and itching of the labia may be a result of splitting, cracking or tearing of the vaginal skin. An itchy vagina after birth is also a common problem that is associated with vaginal fissures during childbirth when the skin is stretched and broken, leaving a crack or wound.

Several other conditions can cause a broken vaginal skin, such as lichen planus as discussed below. Rough sexual intercourse and waxing can also lead to a broken or torn skin on the labia majora and labia minora. Since there is heat in the crotch area, you are likely to sweat. The conditions will usually result in an itchy vagina, but usually localized around the area with the wound.

4. Vaginal itching from UTI

Is there itching with a UTI? A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary tract system. It can occur in both men and women. The urethra, kidneys, and bladder may be affected by bacteria that cause UTIs. Can a UTI cause an itchy vagina in women?

Urinary tract infections produce a burning sensation. This kind of pain is felt when urinating. However, most patients may describe it as an itchy feeling inside the vagina as opposed to the labia lips and vulva.

There are times when UTIs co-occur with yeast infections. Yeast infections can produce very unbearable symptoms, including severe itching of the crotch area, vaginal labia majora and minora lips and vulva in general.

5. Vulvar pruritus or itchy vulva

Vulval itching is called vulvar pruritus. It is commonly used to describe an itching sensation on the skin just outside the vagina. Most women will experience an itchy vulva at some point. However, according to Patient.info, “pruritus vulvae means the itch is persistent, and causes distress. The itch may be particularly bad at night and may disturb your sleep.”

An itchy vulva is more of a symptom of a likely infection. It is not a condition in itself. The most likely causes of an irritated vulvar skin include:

  • Infections such as thrush, some STDs, scabies and even threadworms.
  • Skin problems such as eczema, lichen planus and psoriasis can also cause itching outside the vagina.
  • Skin cancer around the vagina and anus.
  • Fecal and urinary incontinence.

6. Itchy vaginal area after waxing

Rough waxing can cause irritation in the pubic area
Rough waxing can cause irritation in the pubic area

A Brazilian bikini wax might be the best hair removal method in the crotch. However, it can come with its own side effects. Waxing can be rough on the skin, leaving you with potential injuries such as broken skin, or even stripped skin.

Pubic hair is meant to protect the sensitive skin on your genitals. When you do a wax job, you are removing that protective layer.

Waxing can also pull off tiny pieces of the skin’s outermost layer, creating a portal through which bacteria can enter the body.” [WomensHealthMag.com]. Complications that arise and may cause an itchy vaginal area after waxing include:

  • Inflammation of the skin around the crotch, leading to swelling.
  • Folliculitis and cellulitis.
  • Staph infections around the vaginal area.
  • Ingrown pubic hair in females.

Allure Magazine warns that using some types of wax may cause irritation in the vaginal area. “Some people are itchy after a bikini wax because they have used a hot, synthetic wax, which irritates the skin.”

7. Itching vagina, inner thighs and anus after shower

Showering can leave you with quite some symptoms, especially if you have a sensitive skin. Some people suffer an itchy skin after showering in either hot water or cold hard water. Contact dermatitis, allergic reactions and chemical irritants in water can cause an itchy vaginal skin.

Aquagenic pruritus is itching that is caused by water. It “is a skin disease characterized by the development of severe itching on contact with water without observable skin lesions. The symptoms may be felt immediately after contact with water and can persist for an hour or longer. Other possible causes of an itchy vagina, anus and inner thighs after showering include:

  • Bathing in hot water too frequently, removing the protective oils on your skin
  • Allergic reactions to irritants in soap, towels and even perfumes or colognes.
  • Chemical irritants in soap and water, such as chlorine and sodium lauryl sulfate found in most toiletries.

8. Jock itch in female causes an itchy crotch

Jock itch is a male yeast infection. It is a contagious fungus that can be transmitted to females through contact. Jock itch in both men affects the crotch area: vagina, penis, entire groin region, inner thighs, anus and buttocks.

Feminine itch or jock itch in women may produce symptoms similar to those of herpes or nappy rash in women. An itchy red vulva and anus, and bikini area may be due to inflammation of the skin. The skin may also begin to flake and form a rash that looks like ringworm.

Contact in the groin area with a man with jock itch, probably during sex can lead to infection. A moist, warm and dark environment in the groin area can cause a fungal infection to thrive and cause an itching vagina.

9. Diabetes

Diabetes is often associated with vaginitis and yeast infections in the vaginal area. Fungus feed on sugar and thrive in warm environments. If you have diabetes, elevated sugar provides nourishment for the fungus while the vaginal environment is ideal for the yeast cells to grow.

Treatment for the symptoms may include anti-fungal medications such as Monistat. A more permanent solution is to treat diabetes or manage it to reduce female genital itching and infections.

10. Genital herpes

Genital herpes or HSV-1 and HSV-2 is an STD, usually spread through sex. The herpes simplex virus 2 is more predominant than the HSV-1 one (that causes cold sores). The symptoms of genital herpes may not be easily noticed since some people do not show them at all.

According to Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of genital herpes in women may be mild or non-existent. However, when present, they include:

  • Itching around the vaginal area, or pain after between 2 to 10 days of exposure.
  • Small red bumps on the vagina or vulva lips
  • Small pimple-like bumps on the vagina or pubic area
  • Ulcers and blisters that rapture and bleed or ooze
  • Scabs as the bumps and ulcers heal

A burning or itching vagina may be a sign of an STD such as herpes. Your groin may also be painful due to swollen lymph nodes. There is no cure for genital herpes. Antiviral medications can help manage the symptoms such as itchy labia and vulva.

11. STDs e.g. trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common STD caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. According to the CDC, “In the United States, an estimated 3.7 million people have the infection, but only about 30% develop any symptoms of trichomoniasis.”

Women are the most affected with this disease. Men can also get it but may not show any symptoms. The signs and symptoms are common in the genital area. They can be of mild to severe discomfort.

The discharge may be frothy, producing a smelly odor.

12. Reduced estrogen and vaginal atrophy

A change in the vagina can also cause irritation and itchiness. Vaginal atrophy or post-menopausal atrophic vaginitis refers to the thinning of the walls of the vagina. This degeneration is caused by a decrease in the levels of the female hormone called estrogen.

Vaginal atrophy commonly occurs during menopause. It may also happen in younger women with hormonal problems that result in estrogen deficiency. Most women experience distressing symptoms in the urinary tract and on the vagina, including the following:

  • Painful intercourse.
  • Dry vagina, vulva and labia lips resulting in a shrunken vagina.
  • Thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls.
  • An itchy vagina, vaginal lips and vulva.

It is important to note that women under treatment for endometriosis and uterine fibroids may experience sore and itchy vaginal lips as a side effect of the medications. “Treatment with medications used to decrease estrogen levels in women who have conditions such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis” may cause vaginal atrophy. [Source – Drugs.com].

Go to treatments

Itchy vagina no discharge, no smell

Itching with no discharge can be a result of hormonal imbalance, eczema, psoriasis or even allergic reactions. An abnormal discharge is one of the most prominent symptom of an infection down there.

According to BuddyMD, an itch with no discharge is a sign that there is an irritant around your vagina. Irritants that can cause this kind of discomfort include:

  • Underwear fabric
  • Tight clothing
  • Poor hygiene and accumulation of sweat

Excessive washing and the use of irritating soaps can also cause an itchy vagina no discharge. Itching with no smell is also due to the lack of discharge. A foul odor is normally associated with discharge that comes out as a result of a bacterial, fungal or viral infection. You may get a yellow, green or brown discharge. Sometimes, an infection may manifest in the form of a white itchy discharge from the vagina.

Vaginal itching at night

Why does my vagina itch at night?” An itchy skin around the crotch can be caused by any one of the reasons above. The most common causes are psoriasis and eczema or contact dermatitis. The severe itching on the skin can really worsen at night.

Parasitic infections around the bikini region in women can also cause itching at night. The hairy part of the vagina can get infested with parasites such as pubic lice and mites. Threadworms too can migrate from the anus to the vagina. They will cause itching especially at night. Deworming can easily help relieve symptoms such as pubic itching at night.

Itching vagina before period or during and after period

Vaginal itching before menstruation and sometimes after period is normal. During this time, there is a decrease in the hormone estrogen in the body. This leads to a dry vaginal skin that can really start to itch and become uncomfortable.

An itchy vagina before period and after period is normal and “usually happens due to a drop in estrogen levels, which leads to the thinning and inflammation of the vaginal wall. It is normal for this to be accompanied by a stinging sensation around the vaginal opening and lower third of vagina.” [Source – MedGuidance.com].

During period, it is also common for some women to experience irritation. The discomfort is likely arising from the type of tampon you are using. Also, failure to change your pads in good time can result in a burning sensation near the vaginal opening.

Bacterial and yeast infections are also possible during period due to the presence of blood and warmth. Rashes and itching down there during menstruation could be a result of thrush or yeast infections. Symptoms of a UTI can also worsen during period.

Itchy vagina treatment

Problems like an itchy vulva or pruritus vulvae may require treating the underlying cause. Relieving scabies, psoriasis and eczema can go a long way in soothing an itchy vaginal skin. Also, use mild soaps and avoid perfumes in the female genital area. These are likely irritants that worsen your symptoms.

1. Anti-fungal cream for feminine itch

If the itchy vagina is caused by a yeast infection, your doctor may prescribe a 3-day application of antifungal cream. Tablets and ointments may also be given to get rid of the yeast causing vaginal itch.

Examples of anti-fungal medications that are commonly used for this treating such infections include Terazol, Monistat, Lotrimin and Gynazle. Diflucan is also an oral medication if the infection is severe. However, it should NOT be taken by pregnant women.

Clotrimazole, Ketoconazole and Fluconazole are some of the commonly prescribed medications for getting rid of fungal infections that cause feminine itch.

2. Antibiotic treatments for itchy vagina and labia

UTIs and bacterial vaginosis are treated using antibiotic treatments. However, antibiotics are administered with care because they can easily cause yeast infections in the vaginal area. Antibiotic treatments for urinary tract infections include:

  • Taking low doses of antibiotics for a longer period. This option is preferred if you have chronic UTIs that don’t go away easily.
  • When sex is known to be a cause or trigger, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to be taken in a single dose after sex.
  • A 1 or 2 day antibiotic course may also be used every time symptoms appear.

Bladder infections are commonly treated using doxycycline, Fluoroquinolones, Augmentin and Amoxicillin.

3. Anti-viral medications for STDs

Some STDs such as genital herpes do not have cures. Treatments are given to relieve the itch and other symptoms in the crotch area. Zovirax, Famvir and Valtrex are some of the anti-viral medications used to:

  • Help sores from genital herpes heal faster.
  • Reduce the frequency of the symptoms recurring.
  • Relieve the itch around the vulva and vagina.
  • Minimize the chance of transmitting the virus to others.

4. Hormonal therapy to treat an itchy dry vagina

Your doctor may recommend estrogen therapy if you are experiencing an itchy and dry vagina due to post-menopausal vaginal atrophy. Low doses of estrogen can help relieve the itch and dry vaginal lips.

This therapy may be in the form of a topical cream, a pill or suppositories that you will insert in your vagina to relieve the itchiness. Other options include vaginal estrogen rings and estrogen skin patches that deliver estrogen through the skin.

Home Remedies for an itchy vagina

We highly discourage using home treatments unless instructed by your physician. However, you can use these home remedies to relieve the itch and soothe the area. Moisturizing your vaginal skin, being careful with how you wipe the area and using mild skin cleansers and lotions can help prevent and relieve the irritation. Here are home remedies to relieve vaginal irritation.

1. Ice pack relief for itchy vulva

A cold compress or an ice pack can help relieve an itchy skin. An ice pack can stop the irritation fast and allow you to see your doctor for proper treatment. Here’s how to relieve an itching vulva or vaginal labia lips with an ice pack.

  1. Make an ice pack by placing ice cubes in a plastic bag.
  2. Wrap the pack in a towel.
  3. Place it on the irritated area in your crotch.
  4. Hold it in position for a few minutes, remove for one minute and repeat.

A cold compress will soothe the skin and stop the itch fast. It is however a temporary solution. Avoid putting ice directly on your skin. It can burn your skin and cause further irritation to your bikini region.

2. Avoid sex to help soothe and cure the irritation

Severe itching in the pubic area can make sex a huge discomfort. Avoid having sex to reduce bruising and further irritation in the pubic area.

Sex may increase the discomfort due to the friction it comes with. It is also dangerous since you can easily spread the infection to your partner.

3. Avoid scratching the area

Scratching the vagina to relieve the itch is highly discouraged. Scratching can introduce new bacteria to the vaginal area. This can cause new infections as well as worsen the symptoms.

Scratching the vulva and labia can also break the skin. While it brings temporary relief, the broken skin is also easily irritated and may cause further itching and tearing of the vaginal lips and skin.

4. Epsom salt bath

Epsom salt contains antibacterial properties. You can use it to reduce the itching sensation if your infection in not severe. Salt can also prevent the growth of bacteria that cause an infection in the female genital area. Here’s how to use Epsom salt to get rid of the itch down there.

  1. Fill your bathtub with warm water.
  2. Add one cup of Epsom salts.
  3. Mix to dissolve the salt well.
  4. Sit in the tub so that you are in a squatting position.
  5. If you experience itching inside the vagina, use your fingers to open the vaginal walls to allow the saline solution inside the vagina.
  6. After the bath, rinse your vagina with fresh water.

5. Use a water based lubricant to soothe the itch

Most women who suffer from vaginal irritation can use a lubricant or a water based moisturizer. This will prevent dryness and help the skin heal faster. Dryness and itching experienced during menopause can be easily relieved using this home remedy. Other tips to stop vaginal itching include:

  1. Avoid applying perfumes, soaps and lotions on the vagina.
  2. Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes.
  3. Do not wear wet clothes or swimsuits for long periods.
  4. Wipe from the front to the back after using the bathroom. This will help prevent some infections.
  5. Eat probiotic yogurt to help balance bacteria in your body.

When to see a doctor

An itchy vagina during pregnancy could be a sign of a serious infection that can be risky to your unborn baby. It is important to keep the vaginal area clean and dry. If you have done these and feel there is irritation, your doctor may help you identify the cause. Other than this, see a doctor immediately if:

  • You get blisters and itchy ulcers in the vaginal area
  • You experience pelvic pain and lower abdominal pain
  • You have a yellow, reddish brown vaginal discharge
  • You feel the itch and have a swelling vagina

You should also see a doctor if your partner is experiencing symptoms such as a burning sensation when urinating. This feeling may be accompanied with itching in the pubic region. It is a sign of either a UTI or a sexually transmitted disease that may require proper diagnosis and treatment.

Sources and references

  1. The U.S. Office of Women’s Health: Vaginal yeast infection
  2. CDC: Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC Fact Sheet
  3. MedicineNet: Bacterial Vaginosis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
  4. Patient: Itchy Vulva (Pruritus Vulvae)
  5. Women’s Health Mag: Beware the Killer Bikini Wax – Bikini Waxing Dangers
  6. US National Library of Medicine: AQUAGENIC PRURITUS: BENEATH WATER “LIES”
  7. ShareCare: Why does my skin get uncontrollably itchy after a shower?
  8. Mayo Clinic: Symptoms of Genital Herpes
  9. Havard Health Publications on Drugs.com: Vaginal Atrophy (Atrophic Vaginitis)

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