Vaginal itching is an embarrassing but common condition that may be a sign of vaginitis, inflammation of the vagina or a yeast infection. Vaginal itching can be caused by foods a patient has eaten or an imbalance in the internal vaginal environment. Patients can treat vaginal itching with a combination of methods, including home remedies.
Vaginal itching has a number of causes. Before attempting any home remedies, patients should visit a physician to have a physical examination. Because vaginal itching is a common symptom of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, patients should have an examination to confirm or rule out an STD diagnosis. A physical examination can also determine whether the patient shows signs of vaginitis or a yeast infection. A patient’s physician can recommend the most appropriate course of treatment based on the symptoms.
The Mayo Clinic suggests applying a vaginal cream to the labia and opening of the vagina to treat itching or irritation. Patients can generally purchase these creams over the counter; however, a patient’s physician may prescribe a cream that contains higher concentrations of the active ingredients. Clotrimazole, sold as Gyne-Lotrimin; miconazole, sold as Monistat; and ticonazole, sold as Vagistat, are commonly recommended creams to treat vaginal irritation and itching.
In some cases a patient’s physician may prescribe an oral medication to treat vaginal itching. The Mayo Clinic indicates that doctors generally prescribe an oral medication to treat vaginal itching if the cause of the irritation appears to be a yeast infection. Many physicians prescribe fluconazole, sold as Diflucan. Fluconazole is highly concentrated and administered as a one-time dose.
Doctors also prescribe antibiotics when a yeast infection is causing vaginal itching. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that are causing the irritation. Antibiotics can sometimes create additional imbalance in the vaginal environment by killing beneficial bacteria as well. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends eating yogurt with live cultures or taking the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus to maintain the balance between healthy and harmful bacteria. Patients should check with their doctors before consuming these items, however, to prevent negative interactions with any other medications they are taking.
Patients can apply cold compresses to the affected area to relieve itching and irritation. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises that patients avoid scratching the affected area to prevent aggravating the symptom.