Sat | Dec 10, 2016

What causes vaginal itching?

Published:Saturday | December 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Dr. Douglas Street, Contributor

Many women and, sad to say, some doctors assume that vaginal itching is caused by yeast infection. Some go to the doctor and are reluctant to have an examination done because they believe they already know what is causing the problem. Some doctors even treat it without examining the patient. This should not be the case.

Probably the most common cause of vaginal itching is vaginal candidiasis (yeast). It is usually associated with a lumpy vaginal discharge and may be recurrent. It may be caused by a weakened immune system, antibiotic use, inappropriate hygienic practices, and clothes that trap heat in the genital area. Acidophilus in yogurt or as supplement may help prevent it. Yeast usually occurs when the levels of acidophilus in the vagina is too low. Diabetes, with or without yeast, can also cause vaginal itching.

Bacterial vaginosis may also cause vaginal itching. It can also result from the same factors that cause yeast infection. The discharge, in this case, is usually creamy, however.

STIs

Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomonas, herpes and genital warts can cause vaginal itching as well. Other bacteria other than STIs may also cause vulvovaginitis (inflammation of the internal and external regions of the vagina), causing itching. Urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) is another possible cause.

Menopause is another possible cause of vaginal itching. As the hormonal support for the vagina falls, the walls become thin and the bacterial composition changes. This can lead to inflammation in the vagina, leading to itching. It can be treated with a hormonal supplement.

Another important cause of vaginal itching is chemical irritation. These chemicals may be present in or on condoms, sanitary napkins, laundry detergents, bathing soaps, lubricants, douches, medications, fabric softeners, and toilet paper.

Pinworms

Some may find it incredible, but even worms can cause vaginal itching, particularly pinworms. This is more common in children ages five to 10. Pinworms lay their eggs around the anus, but when they hatch the worms may migrate to the vagina instead of the anus, causing itching.

Conditions that cause itching in other areas of the body can cause vaginal itch as well. These include scabies, eczema, psychological disorders (like anxiety disorder), Sjögren's syndrome, and lichen sclerosis, etc. Cancer of the vulva is a rare cause of vaginal itching.