Vaginal itching: What is it and 7 common causes

Have you ever experienced that embarrassing smell, irritable itch down there? If you have, you are not alone, don't worry. Many women seem to walk around with an itchy vagina, if not all.

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Sep 05, 2015, 20:20 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

Have you ever experienced that embarrassing smell, irritable itch down there? If you have, you are not alone, don't worry. Many women seem to walk around with an itchy vagina, if not all.

Vaginal itching is an uncomfortable symptom that is often caused by an infection, irritating substances or even menopause.

Vaginal itching, burning and irritation gets better on its own, but you should seek medical advice if it continues for long and is severe.

Causes of vaginal itching-

Yeast infection: A yeast infection occurs when the fungus, candida, grows excessively in your vagina and vulva. Symptoms include swelling, intense itching and irritation.

Bacterial vaginosis: It is caused by changes in the amount of certain types of bacteria in the vagina. Generaly, 'good' bacteria (lactobacilli) outnumber 'bad' bacteria (anaerobes) in your vagina. But if anaerobic bacteria overgrows lactobacilli bacterica, it causes bacterial vaginosis. Symptoms may include inflammation, burning, discharge, itching and odour.

Trichomoniasis: It is a common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis is curable and it can affect both men and women. Symptoms include itching, burning and discharge.

Chemical irritants: Various chemical substances such as soaps, scented detergents, creams, douches, scented toilet paper can cause an allergic reaction or irritate the vagina and vulva.

Lichen sclerosus: It is an uncommon condition that causes thin white patches to form on the skin, especially around the vulva. Anyone can get lichen sclerosus, but postmenopausal women are at greater risk.

Hormones: Changes in hormone levels due to your pregnancy, menopause or period can cause vaginal itching.

Postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis: This occurs as a result of decreased estrogen levels and is very common in postmenopausal women. This can also lead to increased vaginal infections and may make sexual intercourse painful.

While most of the infections can be treated by antibiotics, preventions is the key to a healthy vagina. And for that, you need to follow a few healthy habits - wearing the right clothes, eating a healthy diet, not introducing it to harmful chemicals, practicing safe sex and of course treating the vagina as you would the rest of your body.