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The Worst Itch: What Causes Vaginal Itching and Burning?

By HERWriter
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Itchy Vagina? What Causes Vaginal Itching and How to Treat It Photo: Getty Images

Vaginal itching and burning are the most common symptoms that send women racing to their gynecologist. These symptoms are signals that something is not right in the vagina.

It's normal to have a healthy mix of bacteria in the vagina. But the wrong bacteria can lead to an infection known as bacterial vaginosis. Besides burning and itching, other bacterial vaginosis symptoms are inflammation, discharge and a fishy-smelling odor.

Vaginitis can result from sexual intercourse or a number of other factors that disrupt the normal balance of the vagina

Chemical substances such as creams, douches, contraceptive foams or jellies, detergents, soaps, scented toilet paper, and fabric softeners can irritate the vagina. Condoms themselves can also cause after-intercourse itching and burning in women who are allergic to latex. An allergic reaction usually occurs shortly after using a new product. Symptoms improve when a woman stops using the irritant.

Sexually transmitted disease (STDs) like chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhea can cause vaginal burning and itching.

The dreaded yeast infection also causes burning and itching. Pregnancy, intercourse, antibiotics, and a weakened immune system can all lead to a yeast infection.

Menopause drops estrogen production and that can cause the vaginal walls to thin and dry out. This can lead to itching, irritation and pain with intercourse.

Another possible, but less common, cause of vaginal itching is an allergic reaction to semen. This can be due to the particular proteins contained in the seminal fluid.

Stress can also increase vaginal itching and make women more prone to infections.

There are many ways to prevent and treat vaginal itching and burning. For starters, avoid colored or perfumed toilet tissue, bubble bath, feminine hygiene sprays and douches.

Use water and plain unscented soap to clean your genital area. And remember, washing more than once a day can increase dryness.

Always wipe from front to back after urinating or a bowel movement.

Avoid synthetic fabrics. Wear panties or pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Change out of wet clothing, wet bathing suits and exercise clothes as soon as possible.

Women should avoid sexual intercourse until their symptoms get better.

How vaginal itching and burning is treated depends on what condition is causing the problem. Health care providers may prescribe oral or vaginal medications such as antibiotics, antifungal drugs, and estrogen cream or tablets.

Fight the urge and don’t scratch the itch as it will only aggravate the problem.

About.com Women’s Health

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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