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Itchiness of the vagina and vulva can occur for a variety of reasons. While some home remedies may help relieve the itching, a person should seek medical advice.
Treatment for itchiness of the vaginal area depends on the cause of the problem. Infections, for example, require a professional approach, which might be antibiotics for a bacterial infection or antifungal medications for a yeast infection.
Vaginal itching is also a common symptom of menopause, and doctors can prescribe medicine to relieve it.
The vagina, vulva, or both may itch. The vulva is the external part of the female genitals, including the clitoris, the labia, and opening of the vagina. Healthcare professionals refer to vulval itching as pruritus vulvae.
It is important to note that home remedies can help ease the itchiness, but they cannot heal the underlying cause.
This article looks at the scientific evidence behind some common home remedies for vaginal and vulval itching and describes when to see a doctor.
Sometimes, dry skin can lead to an itchy vulva.
The National Eczema Association (NEA) advise that adding gentle oils to bathwater can help moisturize the skin.
Avoid any bath oil that contains fragrance, which can irritate the area even more.
Baking soda can also help relieve vulval itching that occurs due to dry skin and herpes.
According to the NEA, adding a quarter-cup of baking soda to a bath or applying it to the skin as a paste are common ways to relieve itching.
When herpes lesions are active, a person can take a sitz bath with baking soda to provide relief, according to the authors of the Maternity and Women’s Health Care E-Book.
The Australian Menopause Society (AMS) suggest washing the vulva with a diluted solution of baking soda to help relieve itching. They recommend using 2.5 milliliters of baking soda per 1 liter of water.
Adding oatmeal to a bath can help ease vulval itching that occurs due to dry skin or skin conditions such as eczema.
One small 2015 study involving 29 female participants concluded that using colloidal oatmeal significantly reduced the intensity of the itch.
Research indicates that vitamin E may help relieve itching in the vulva or vagina caused by atopic dermatitis or menopause.
For example, a 2016 study on the effects of vitamin E suppositories concluded that they were successful in treating vaginal atrophy among women who had entered menopause. The term “vaginal atrophy” refers to drying, thinning, and inflammation of the vaginal walls.
The AMS also report that vitamin E applied topically or taken orally has this effect.
Vitamin E for vaginal health comes in various forms, including suppositories and creams.
Yogurt contains a type of bacteria called Lactobacillus, which also live in the genitals.
Some evidence suggests that applying a mixture of yogurt and honey to the vulva or inside the vagina can help treat fungal infections that may be responsible for vaginal itching.
A small 2015 study concluded that yeast infection symptoms seemed to improve in participants who used a mixture of a vaginal cream, yogurt, and honey.
A larger 2012 study found that a mixture of honey and yogurt produced a high cure rate among pregnant participants with yeast infections.
However, authors of a 2019 article from the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care cautioned that there is still too little evidence to support using yogurt in this way.
Some people believe that taking garlic capsules or even putting garlic inside the vagina can help prevent or treat bacterial or fungal infections.
However, one 2015 review warns that there is a lack of evidence that this remedy works and that it may have adverse effects, including burns and allergic reactions.
Vaginal itching can occur due to:
The most common cause of an itchy vulva is irritant contact dermatitis. This can occur due to:
- harsh soap and other products
- frequent washing
- frequent or lasting contact with urine
Some infections that can cause itching of the vagina, vulva, or both include:
Skin issues that can cause vaginal itching include:
To help prevent vaginal and vulval itchiness, a person can:
- use fragrance-free soap
- avoid other scented products, such as bubble baths and tampons
- wear cotton underwear
- avoid tight clothing, such as tight jeans
- always wipe from front to back
- change out of damp workout clothes as soon as possible
- use barrier protection during sex to avoid sexually transmitted infections
- avoid using douches
- avoid using sex toys when the area is itchy
- use water-soluble lubricant
Home remedies can help ease itchiness in the vagina and vulva but cannot treat the underlying cause.
Most causes of vaginal itching require medical attention.
A person should see a medical professional if the itching is persistent, especially if it occurs with any of the following:
- foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- thick yellow, green, or white discharge
- burning and swelling of the vulva
- pain during urination
- pain during sex
Most causes of vaginal itching require some form of medical treatment. In the meantime, a person can take steps at home to ease the itching, such as using vitamin E or colloidal oatmeal.
There are also ways to avoid some causes of vaginal and vulval itching, such as using fragrance-free soaps and other products.