Vaginal itching is very common and can be completely harmless. Using a new soap, menstrual pad, lubricant or wearing too-tight clothes can cause itching down there. However, if the itching is lasting more than a passing moment, it could point to something else.
It’s important to also figure out where the itch is coming from, says Dr Ayo Oduntan, Zoie Health doctor. Your itch could be on the vaginal mons pubis area, which is external. But if the itch is inside the vulva, this could point to another cause.
External Vaginal Itching
Recently shaved down there? A blunt razor could cause itchiness, dryness and irritation. Use a hypoallergenic cream to soothe the skin and keep it dry and clean. Dr Ayo advises that it’s best to steer away from razors and opt for waxing.
Eczema or psoriasis
Eczema appears in the crevices and folds of the skin, in the elbows, knees, underarms, groin and on the labia. If you have eczema, you’re probably well-versed in seeing it in various parts of your body. Flare-ups occur when you’re stressed or your immunity is low. Psoriasis can also occur around the vagina area, presenting with red, patchy skin.
Using a new body soap or cream? Dried, flaky skin or even a full-blown rash could occur if your body’s not pleased with the change. This irritation would be behind the itching. To treat, soak yourself in an Epsom salt bath, or try an OTC treament, like hydrocortisone cream. If this doesn’t work, see a doctor for further treatments.
Internal Vaginal Itching
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) happens when there’s been an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. It’s not an STI and could happen to anyone. Aside from itchiness, you might experience an odour and loose discharge. Bacterial vaginosis is incredibly common, with South Africa having the highest rate of BV in Africa. Can leave an odour and loose discharge. Treatments include Ph-balancing products that can restore your vagina’s natural bacterial balance.
Urinary Tract Infections, or UTIs, are incredibly common and happen most often when bacteria from the skin or rectum enter the urethra. This can cause an infection in the urinary tract, which might cause itching, pain when urinating and feeling a pain in your side or lower back. Treatment includes cranberry supplements or antibiotics.
A yeast infection, or candida, is the most common cause of itching and irregular discharge. It comes about when there’s an overgrowth of fungus in the area. You might experience discharge that resembles cottage cheese, redness around the labia and vulva and of course, vaginal itching. OTC treatments work well for this and will usually resolve in a few days. As always, if nothing improves, see your doctor.
If your itching comes with other symptoms then you might have an STI. Other symptoms may include but not limited to: burning, painful urination, smelly discharge and lesions or sores on your genitals or painful sex, all pointing toward a possible STI. If these are part of what you’re experiencing, you’ll need to see a doctor to run tests, diagnose the STI and then offer up some treatment.