What Causes Itchy Vaginal Lips?
Itchiness around the vaginal opening can definitely be uncomfortable, but it can also be concerning, depending on the cause. There are many pieces of the puzzle that can contribute to itchy vaginal lips, ranging from minor irritations to more serious underlying conditions. Understanding the potential triggers is crucial in order to find relief and address any underlying issues.
Follow along as we uncover underlying factors in vaginal health and discuss available treatment options. By gaining insight into the possible causes of vaginal itching, you can empower yourself to effectively manage and alleviate discomfort in this sensitive area.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
Yeast infections, specifically caused by an overgrowth of Candida yeast, can lead to symptoms like itchiness, redness, and swelling in the vaginal area — including around the lips (or labia). This itching can be persistent and uncomfortable and often comes with a thick, white discharge.
What Causes Yeast Infections?
Believe it or not, vaginal yeast infections affect three out of four women. Also called vaginal candidiasis, this common condition is caused when there’s an imbalance in your natural vaginal flora.
This can be due to medical factors like taking antibiotics and hormone imbalances to lifestyle factors such as wearing tight clothing, douching, or using scented soaps. Fortunately, you can easily treat yeast infections with over-the-counter medications, such as antifungal cream. But if you're looking for more natural relief, you can try a few home remedies.
Garlic and yogurt both contain natural antifungal properties that can help ease the symptoms of a yeast infection.
Another cause of itching around the vulva is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). This infection occurs when the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina is thrown off. Symptoms can include a fishy-smelling odor, burning during urination, and a white or gray vaginal discharge. Treatment requires prescription antibiotics.
What Causes BV?
While the exact cause of this bacterial infection isn't fully understood, several factors can contribute to the development of bacterial vaginosis.
Disruption of the Vaginal Microbiota
The vagina naturally contains a delicate balance of different types of bacteria. When there's a disruption in this balance, an overgrowth of harmful bacteria can occur, leading to bacterial vaginosis.
Engaging in sexual activity — especially with multiple partners — can increase the risk of developing BV. It is believed that the introduction of new bacteria or an imbalance in the vaginal microbiota can occur during sexual intercourse, contributing to the infection.
Fluctuations in hormonal levels, such as those that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause (think estrogen and progesterone), can alter the vaginal environment, making it more susceptible to bacterial vaginosis.
It's important to note that BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), although sexual activity can increase the risk. If you experience unusual symptoms, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor or gynecologist.
Dry skin can also cause your vaginal area to itch. Medically known as vulvar dryness, this common skin condition can manifest as redness, burning, and stinging sensations.
What Causes Dry Skin?
The cause of dry skin can vary, but some of the most common culprits include frequent washing with harsh soaps, contact dermatitis or sensitivity to certain fabrics, and hormonal changes. If your dryness is due to allergies, you may also notice blisters and eczema along the labia majora.
If you think dry skin may be the cause of your vaginal itching, make sure to use a gentle cleanser and moisturize the area with a fragrance-free moisturizer, like our Comfy Cream®.
Try switching to unscented laundry detergents, as these are generally less likely to incite an allergic reaction. Also, wearing cotton underwear may help soothe vaginal dryness a little more than underwear made from synthetic materials.
Next up, we have trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Trichomoniasis is caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasite that is passed through sexual contact with an infected person. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include itching, burning, redness, soreness, and swelling of the vaginal lips (labia).
What Causes Trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis is spread primarily through unprotected sexual contact. Practicing safe sex, such as using condoms, is one of the best ways to keep yourself and others safe from trichomoniasis.
If you have symptoms of trichomoniasis or have been exposed, consult a doctor or OB/GYN as soon as possible to get tested and receive treatment.
Urinary Tract Infection
Last but certainly not least, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can also cause an itchy vulva. UTIs are caused when bacteria infiltrates the urinary tract andirritates the bladder or urethra, leading to burning sensations in the area.
Other symptoms of a UTI may include:
- A frequent urge to urinate
- A feeling of fullness
- Pressure in the bladder
- Painful urination
What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?
UTIs can occur for many reasons, including using certain types of lubricants, having sexual intercourse with a new partner, or not drinking enough fluids.
To keep your urinary tract clear and healthy, make sure to drink enough water and urinate frequently. We also recommend supporting your urinary tract health with our Good Girl Probiotics®, a probiotic supplement that can support the immune system and encourage a balanced vaginal pH.
Note: If you think you might have a UTI, see your doctor or women’s health practitioner for evaluation and treatment.
How Can You Support Vaginal Health?
Now that you know the different causes of an itchy vulva, here are some ways you can keep your vagina healthy and itch-free.
Practice Good Hygiene
Maintaining proper hygiene is essential for vaginal health. Wash the external genital area with mild, unscented soap, like our pH Balancing Cleanser™, and warm water. You should also avoid using harsh soaps, douches, bubble baths, or feminine hygiene sprays, as they can disrupt your vaginal pH balance and cause irritation.
We also recommend staying away from heavily scented personal care products, such as lotion, fabric softeners, and scented cleansers. If you’re experiencing itching, it might also be best to stay away from tampons.
Wear Breathable Underwear
Choosing the right underwear can contribute to vaginal health. Opt for breathable fabrics such as cotton, which allows air circulation and helps keep the vaginal area dry.
At the same time, avoid tight-fitting panties or materials that trap moisture, as they can create a favorable environment for bacteria or yeast overgrowth. Regularly changing out of damp or sweaty clothing, such as workout gear or swimsuits, is also important.
Regular Check-ups and Prompt Medical Attention
Regular visits to a healthcare professional, such as a gynecologist, are essential for monitoring and maintaining vaginal health. Schedule routine check-ups, especially if you experience any unusual symptoms, changes in discharge, or discomfort.
Promptly address any concerns or symptoms with a healthcare provider to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment if needed.
The Bottom Line
Itchy vaginal lips can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, but understanding the potential causes can help you address the issue and find relief. By making small changes in your daily habits and seeking appropriate medical care when necessary, you can significantly reduce your risk of experiencing uncomfortable itching in this sensitive area.
Here at Love Wellness, we are committed to helping you embrace your body and love yourself well. Shop our selection of natural feminine care products, supplements, and other essentials to help support overall wellness.
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