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Relief for External Vaginal Itch

by
author image Elizabeth Moore
Based in Princeton, N.J., Elizabeth Moore has written health-related patient education materials since 1992. She is a registered nurse with more than 15 years of clinical experience. Moore earned an Associate of Applied Science in nursing from Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing.
Relief for External Vaginal Itch
It is best to have a health practitioner determine the cause of external vaginal itching before treating symptoms. Photo Credit bikini image by FotoWorx from Fotolia.com

Most women will suffer form external vaginal itching at some point in life. It is a common problem with many different causes. Many women feel embarrassment over external vaginal itching and may hesitate to seek help for it from their doctor or nurse-midwife. While there are several home and over-the-counter remedies for vulvar itching, an important first step is confirmation of the cause of external vaginal itching. Imbalanced vaginal pH and household irritants are two causes of vulvar itching for which self-administering relief may be appropriate. However, sexually transmitted infections and some serious diseases, such as diabetes, may also cause symptomatic external vaginal itching. It is a good idea to see your doctor before beginning any treatment.

Over-the-Counter Topical Yeast Cream

Vaginal health depends on the vagina maintaining its delicately-balanced optimal pH. A healthy vagina is slightly acidic, which discourages the proliferation of harmful organisms. For example, infection with candida, better known as a yeast infection, is one of the more common causes of both internal and external vaginal itching. A remedy for itching of the vulva associated with a candida infection is application of a topical yeast infection cream. These creams are available over-the-counter in many pharmacies and supermarkets. It is essential to determine the cause of itching with a practitioner before using any medicine.

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Over-the-Counter Topical Anesthetic Creams or Spray

Relief for External Vaginal Itch
Topical anesthetics temporarily numb external vaginal itching. Photo Credit tube image by JonES from Fotolia.com

Over-the-counter topical anesthetic creams or sprays often contains benzocaine. These products soothe itching by numbing the skin where they are applied. Topical anesthetics are very commonly prescribed for pain and itching on skin of the vulva and external vagina after childbirth. You may want to ask a doctor or nurse-midwife before using benzocaine products to relieve external vaginal itching.

Avoid Irritants

Relief for External Vaginal Itch
Many soaps, deodorants and perfumes contain chemicals which, through contact with the vulva, can cause itching and irritation. Photo Credit handmade soaps image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com

Some household supplies can irritate the delicate tissue of the external vagina and vulva. It is helpful to avoid or eliminate common culprits. Soap and body wash often contains ingredients that can disrupt the natural oil and mucus of the external vagina, leaving sensitive tissue vulnerable to irritation. It is ideal to use only warm water to cleanse the genital area when experiencing vulvar itching. Vaginal douching should always be avoided, as well as "feminine" perfumes and deodorants. The National Institutes of Health specify that fabric softener, laundry detergent and contraceptive foam may also cause external vaginal itching. It's also best to stop using scented sanitary pads and tampons.

Maintain Good Hygiene

Relief for External Vaginal Itch
Maintaining good hygiene will enhance steps taken to relieve vulvar itching. Photo Credit shower image by Ekaterina Shvigert from Fotolia.com

One of the most simple ways to relieve external vaginal itching is to keep the vulva clean and dry. Whatever a woman's normal self-care routine, the external genitals should be cleaned at least once each day. A common home remedy for external vaginal itching involves soaking in a few inches of clean water to which colloidal oatmeal, such as Aveeno, is added. According to Klent Pharmacs, colloidal oatmeal has cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties and provides relief from genital itching.

Cotton Underwear

Relief for External Vaginal Itch
They may look pretty, but underpants made from synthetic fabric are more likely to contribute to external vaginal itching. Photo Credit lingerie image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from Fotolia.com

A simple step to relieve external vaginal itching is to wear clean, preferably white, cotton underwear. Synthetic fabrics can inhibit airflow, increase perspiration and trap heat and moisture. These variables create a climate which enhances growth of the microorganisms which cause external vaginal itching. Tight, binding clothes can have a similar effect. External vaginal itching may be relieved by avoiding underpants made from synthetic fabric as well as tight pants, shorts or skirts.

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