Vaginal itching: a common problem of the young and old
If you are experiencing itching or irritation at your private parts, your body is trying to tell you something.
Itching of the vulva and vagina are one of the common complaints in many women, varying from as young as 5 years old to some who are more than 60 years old. It can be really disturbing and stressful when it persists for numerous days. Severe itching can lead to pain, ugly scratch marks and darkening of the vulval skin.
Let us start from the vulva. Persistent itching of this site may be caused by infection, allergy, or a reason as simple as poor personal hygiene.The latter is common in most children, the poor, the elderly and from individuals who may be suffering from psychological illness. In short, personal hygiene is poor when one is unable to look after themselves well.
Itching can also appear when one’s private areas are warm and moist, which is a favourable condition for bacterial and fungal growth.
In the elderly, vulval and vaginal itching can be due to dryness of the skin and vaginal lining. This is a normal condition of aging caused by low level of female hormones. But sometimes, it may be caused by cancer.
Skin Conditions and Allergies
Skin diseases and allergies are not to be missed. Eczema may spread to the private parts and cause irritation. Other skin conditions such as psoriasis, lichen simplex chronicus or lichen sclerosus may also be considered.
In younger women who are more likely to be sexually active, infections which are mainly sexually transmitted is a more probable cause of vaginal itching. Infections such as genital warts, herpes, trichomoniasis, yeast infections (candida) and bacterial vaginosis are some causes to be named.
Pubic lice (also called ‘crabs’) may also be included.
Scabies and tinea cruris (a fungal infection also known as ‘ringworm’) are also some underlying causes. Though, they are not limited to the private parts. They cause itching of various parts of the body including the private parts. They are not transmitted by sexual contact, but rather normal contact with close people such as relatives and friends.Click here for details on STD Screening for Women
Tips, Tricks and Treatments
You may be confused to what is the cause of the itching and irritation you are experiencing. You could drop by the pharmacy and get some over-the-counter medications first. However, if the itching is not better and it is driving you nuts, you may want to consult a doctor.
In the elderly or pregnant ladies where hormonal levels are most probably the main causes, baking soda baths and pastes can help.
Changes in hormonal levels causes increased pH of the vaginal lining which can cause itching. Sexual intercourse may help in these cases as male semen has a lower pH level which can then reduce the pH level of the vaginal lining.
Another tip is after defecating, it is better to wash and then wipe from front to back to avoid any bacteria from entering the vagina.
In general, always keep your private parts clean, dry and airy. Also, try and avoid wearing tight undergarments.
Be sure to see Our Doctors if your itching persists.
Most causes of vaginal itching are not serious, however, if your symptoms are persistent, you should see a doctor to rule out any possibilities of infection including STDs and also cancer.
If you are pregnant, always seek a doctor’s advice before trying out any over the counter remedies.
If you are not sure or worried about your vaginal itching, it is better to consult a doctor for further advice. It’s better to be safe than sorry.Click here to see the full range of our HIV/STD Services Click here for our full range of Women’s Health Services
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Dr (Ms) De Souza
MD (Russia), MMed (Obs&Gyn)