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Vaginal itches: symptoms, causes and remedies

Vaginal itches

This is never a funny experience. It is painful, annoying and worst still embarrassing. Imagine you are on a romantic date or in a business meeting and going through this! Almost every lady of child bearing age has experienced this at one point or the other in their live.

Just so you are aware, this is going to be a very long article…that’s how serious the itch is.

Read on.

Having vaginal itches means one of more of the following symptoms could be associated:   

  • Itching sensation (obviously)
  • Tingling feeling when peeing
  • Frequent desire to pee, yet only a few drops pass out
  • Pee may be cloudy or smell funny
  • Vaginal discharge

Vaginal itches can be caused by many different conditions, a few will be listed below together with some remedies.    

Some chemical substances we use to smell better down there or maybe just excess hygienic habits are quite harsh for the vagina. This can cause itching e.g. soaps, douches, female perfumes, scented perfumes…just to name a few.

  • Avoid chemicals that are harsh for the vagina. Seek help from pharmacist to help select such products. That is if you really insist on using them.
  • Cut down on over enthusiastic cleaning of the vagina as a healthy vaginal environment needs the presence of some ‘friendly’ bacteria. Regularly clean outside (do not send finger inside when cleaning) with warm water, which is all you need.              

This happens when naturally occurring friendly fungus normally present in the vagina grows more abundantly than normal. Here, discharge is odorless, white/cheesy or clear.

  • Antifungals (clotrimazole, econazole, miconazole) are very effective. While topical (creams, ointments, pessaries/ovules) present with quicker initial relief, tablets forms exists.              
  • Pessaries (also known as ovules-tablets inserted into the vagina) are best inserted at night to avoid loss from movements. Read label/ask pharmacist for proper ways of inserting pessaries.          Avoid sex till cure is complete.   

Discharge is more watery and fishy-smelling. This occurs when there is an imbalance with healthy bacterial environment.

Antibiotics and probiotics can help. Seek help from your doctor / pharmacist.  

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, etc usually lead to vaginal itches with a green or yellow discharge.

Antimicrobials as per case. Seek help from your doctor immediately, because some STDs can lead to sterility if left untreated.  Finish treatment even when you feel better.            

Vagina becomes excessively dry during menopause leading to irritation and itching.

Balancing with hormones (estrogen) and using vaginal lubricants              

It is as a result of the inflammation of the bladder (and urethra- tube linking the bladder to the vagina) and usually as a result of microbial infection. It is very common in women and rare in men as women have much shorter urethra than men and so are easily infected.

Itching sensation is very abrupt; unlike for STDs where process is gradual). Other populations at high risk are:         

  • Sexually active women
  • Women who have reached menopause 
  • Pregnancy
  • Some birth control techniques e.g. diaphragm              

Vaginal itches are usually mild and can go away in about 2 days. Go for medical consultation if symptoms not cleared after 2 days of treatment.

  • The irritation stems from the fact that the urine becomes acidic. So there is a need for drugs taken orally (not to be applied on the vagina) that can neutralize the acidic nature. They are known as alkalinizing agents: sodium or potassium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium or potassium citrate.

Potassium citrate has an unpleasant taste so it is advised to mix with cold water before drinking.    

  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used for the pain.    

Poorly controlled diabetes, some medications (antibiotics and steroids) and stress can lead to vaginal itches

  • Drink a lot of water daily (creates a flushing effect and dilutes urine), a minimum of 2L daily for adults.
  • Do not delay urination and void bladder completely when urinating. 
  • After defecation wipe from front to back to minimize transfer of bacteria in faeces to the vagina.  
  • Avoid using perfume or other vaginal deodorants as it may be irritants.
  • It is advisable to wear cotton underwear that is not tight fitting as compared to synthetics, and can readily absorb sweat.  
  • If you are very prone to vaginal itches, try showering over tub baths. 
  • Practice vaginal hygiene. Regular washing with warm water will do. The use of harsh soaps or over douching could have harmful effects. 
  • Make sure body is well dried before dressing and remove all damp underwear.
  • Use lubricants during sexual intercourse especially for newbies. It even has a name, honeymoon cystitis!                                                 

Extra tip: You will most likely be asked about your sexual history or vaginal hygiene habits when talking to a health professional about the itches…do not feel embarrassed or hide information, it simply helps us diagnose better, for your good and hey, doctor-patient secrets.

It is all about the women as we prepare to celebrate the international Women’s day on the 8th of March.  #IWD2018

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Ekwoge Hilda

Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills.

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