If you suffer from frequent vaginal itching, you needn’t worry. Vulvar and vaginal itching are common and can be caused by any number of factors. That’s because the vulvar and vagina are warm, moist areas of the body that are especially susceptible to irritation and infection. In many cases, the irritation is simply due to clothing, menstrual products, or fragrances and can be prevented by avoiding its trigger. On the other hand, vaginal itching may be caused by a fungal or bacterial infection that requires medical treatment.
Your gynecologist may refer to the condition as vulvitis, vaginitis, or vulvovaginitis – which describe where the irritation and inflammation are located. Vulvitis isan inflammation affecting the lips outside the vagina, while vaginitis is inflammation affects your vagina, which is part of your internal reproductive anatomy. While any woman can experience vulvitis, it is more common in children and older adult women who have gone through menopause. That’s because both groups have lower estrogen levels, which can lead to thinner, dryer vulvar tissue, increasing the risk of irritation and inflammation.
The signs and symptoms of vulvitis and vaginitis include:
While vulvitis and vaginitis aren’t contagious, some of its causes are, such as many of the bacteria that cause vaginal infections. However, when vaginal itching is the result of an allergy or skin irritation, it isnot contagious.
Before treating your vaginal itching, your gynecologist or other healthcare provider will review your medical history and ask you about your symptoms and habits as they relate to hygiene. Also, a physical exam and pelvic exam will be performed, looking for skin abnormalities that may indicate vulvitis or vaginitis, such as redness, blisters, or lesions. Your vaginal discharge may also be sent to a laboratory to check for signs of an infection.
Additional diagnostic tools used to confirm a diagnosis of vulvitis or vaginitis include urinalysis, blood tests (including for sexually transmitted infections, or STIs), and a Pap smear. These may be necessary to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms.
Depending on what is causing the inflammation, treatment for your vaginal itching may include:
If these treatments fail to relieve your symptoms, your doctor may order additional tests designed to rule out rarer and more serious conditions that can cause vulvitis and vaginitis, such as lichen sclerosis or cancer, in which case more targeted treatments will be necessary.
To prevent vaginal itching, follow these hygiene tips:
Most women experience relief once they undergo treatment for vulvitis or vaginitis.The vaginal itching and other symptoms usually dissipate within a day or two of treatment – depending, of course, on the cause of the condition.
At DeKalb Women’s Specialists, our team of highly trained and experiencedOB-GYNs provide effective treatment for a wide range of gynecological conditions, including vulvitis and vaginitis. In addition, our comprehensive women’s health services include:
If you have any cause for concern about your gynecological health, don’t wait for your regular annual visit. Instead, call DeKalb Women’s Specialists at (404) 508-2000to set up a consultation at one of our nearest locations or use our convenient online tool to schedule your appointment now.