Associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Lauren Streicher, MD, says, “Vaginal itchiness is extremely common, but there’s a big difference between having a little itch and being up all night thinking you can’t stand this.”
It is important to see a doctor if you experience persistent vaginal itching. Dr. Streicher warns that blisters or a rash in that area could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection. Ob-gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Jonathan Schaffer, MD, notes that pubic lice can cause extremely severe itching that requires the use of prescription medications.
An allergy or skin condition, as well as the vagina (the inside canal) and/or the vulva (everything on the outside), may be to blame, says Alyssa Dweck, MD, an ob-gyn based in Westchester County, New York.
If you’ve already seen a doctor about your vaginal itching, and it’s nothing more than an occasional annoyance, read on for several tried-and-true home remedies.
1. Check your bathing soap.
Dr. Schaffir warns that some soaps, especially those with enticing fragrances, can irritate the vulva due to the area’s sensitivity. You could give hypoallergenic soaps like Cetaphil a try and see if that helps. It may be as simple as cutting out one product, says Dr. Streicher.
2. Pads should be reevaluated.
Certain women have severe itching during their menstruation periods because of allergic reactions to their menstrual pads. Dr. Shaffir says that’s because some tampons and pads come scented with chemicals that can be irritating. If you find that you get particularly itchy during your period, try switching to an unscented brand of pads or even organic tampons and pads.
3 Try an OTC cream like Vagisil.
Dr. Schaffir recommends using Vagisil cream, which helps relieve vaginal itching and is designed to help fight the vaginal itch. The soothing effect and prevention of further irritation are achieved by the formation of a barrier on the skin. If you’re experiencing itching and think it might be due to antibiotics or discharge, use this.
4. Use some Vaseline.
Dr. Streicher advises that if you have been itchy, you should apply some Aquafor to the affected area, wash with water after you urinate, and wipe gently. She claims that Aquafor is preferable to petroleum jelly because it allows the skin to breathe while still protecting it from yeast infections. Also, it has a calming effect.
5. Treat the yeast infection with cream.
In many cases, Dr. Streicher says, women who experience vaginal itching should not automatically assume that they have a yeast infection. However, over-the-counter yeast infection medication should be effective if you’ve had a yeast infection before and know that’s what you’re dealing with. Never forget that the vulva is also susceptible to yeast infections and that there are creams available to treat them.
If you’re concerned that your symptoms could be caused by a yeast infection, it’s best to see a doctor.
6. Get in a lukewarm sitz bath.
When dealing with itching in that area, a hot bath can provide much-needed relief. Dr. Dweck recommends an oatmeal bath with plain Epsom salt or Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment. Afterward, using a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting and a cool air setting, dry the vaginal area.
7. Use a hydrocortisone cream purchased from a drugstore.
In the same way that hydrocortisone creams help with minor skin irritations, they also relieve external vaginal itching. Don’t apply these creams directly inside the vagina, as doing so can aggravate inflammation.
8 Use a cooling therapy like an ice pack.
Dr. Dweck recommends trying a cold compress or cooling pad from the store to ease the pain. Avoid applying them directly to the skin, as this can cause further irritation, and instead use them with a cloth barrier, such as underwear or a towel.
9. Cotton briefs
Dr. Dweck suggests wearing cotton underwear if you suffer from skin irritation and itchiness, which can be exacerbated by other fabrics. Even better, she says, go for organic options.
10. Give an alternate means of hair removal a shot.
Dr. Dweck suggests trying out laser hair removal, electrolysis, or waxing if you shave your bikini line frequently and experience itching afterward.
11. Moisturize the skin’s surface area
Dr. Dweck suggests using a hypoallergenic moisturizer without petrolatum, as this can exacerbate vaginal itching.
12. You should think about trying hormone replacement therapy.
If low estrogen is the problem, which can occur as a result of menopause, hormonal birth control, breastfeeding, or certain medications, vaginal estrogen might do the trick, explains Dr. Dweck. If you’re interested in this, it’s best to consult with your gynecologist for a prescription.