Itching and burning in the intimate area in women
Itching and burning in the intimate area can begin to bother a woman at any age. Most often, these unpleasant sensations are accompanied by hyperemia and edema of the mucous membranes, as well as the appearance of microtraumas of the external genital organs. Itching is a specific skin reaction that causes problem areas to scratch. This, in turn, poses a risk of infection with disease-causing pathogenic agents. They provoke inflammation and ulceration.
It is important to understand that a healthy woman who observes the rules of intimate hygiene will never experience unpleasant sensations in the intimate area. Therefore, the appearance of a burning sensation, accompanied by itching, is a reason for an urgent examination by a gynecologist. You should not engage in self-therapy and diagnostics, so as not to aggravate the course of a possible pathology. Only a doctor, having performed the necessary tests, will be able to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe adequate treatment.
In itself, itching in the intimate area is not a disease. This is just a symptom indicating a pathological process in a woman's genitals. Itching makes it clear that a malfunction has occurred in the body that requires attention. Measures can be taken after the causes of itching have been accurately established. All methods of self-therapy, for example, douching, lotions, intimate baths, the use of creams, ointments and medicines are unacceptable. Illiterate treatment can not only not get rid of the pathology, but also cause serious harm to health. In addition, the clinical picture of the disease due to self-medication is disturbed, and it will be more difficult for the doctor to make the correct diagnosis.
- Causes of itching in the intimate area in women
- Itching, odor and discharge in women in the intimate area
- Itching and burning in the intimate area without discharge
- Itching in the intimate area during pregnancy
- How to treat itching in the intimate area?
Causes of itching in the intimate area in women
All the reasons leading to the onset of itching of the external genital organs in women can be divided into the following groups, each of which contains many more sub-items:
- Diseases of the gynecological sphere.
- Diseases not related to the reproductive system.
- Other factors are endogenous and exogenous.
Diseases of the gynecological sphere. Almost any genital infection is accompanied by burning and itching in the intimate area. Normally, in the vagina and on the skin of a woman's genitals, there are always bacteria related to conditionally pathogenic flora. However, without the influence of additional provoking factors, they do not cause discomfort.
When there are reasons causing the multiplication of infectious agents, the process of inflammation begins, accompanied by itching and burning:
- Candidiasis. This pathology is caused by yeast-like microorganisms belonging to the genus Candida. More often, women call candidiasis thrush, and doctors call it yeast colpitis. In addition to itching and burning, which cause great anxiety to the patient, candidiasis provokes the appearance of thick, cheesy white discharge. See also: causes, signs and symptoms of thrush;
Vulvovaginitis, vaginitis, colpitis of a bacterial nature. Itching and discharge, which have an unpleasant "fishy" smell, can cause opportunistic bacteria that have entered the phase of active reproduction, most often these are gardnerella. In addition, vaginitis and colpitis are often triggered by coccal bacteria and E. coli. Mixed infections of the female genital tract can also be diagnosed. Before the onset of the next menstruation, the discomfort increases.
- Allergic reactions to the discharge of a sexual partner. Sometimes it happens that women experience allergic reactions after unprotected intercourse. They appear on male sperm and lubricants, and cause a characteristic itching and burning sensation in the intimate area of women. Such situations occur quite rarely and they are associated with the incompatibility of the microflora of the pair. This is a rather serious problem that needs to be dealt with. It is possible that the reaction was triggered by food or drugs that the man is taking. To find out the exact cause, it is necessary to pass allergen tests and samples.
In addition, there are many infections that can be sexually transmitted and exist in the body completely asymptomatic. With a decrease in immune forces, with the transition of chronic diseases to the acute stage, after viral infections, they can manifest themselves. Moreover, the itching can be mild and not cause too much discomfort to the woman. Often, sexual intercourse leading to infection occurs for a long time, and symptoms of burning and itching occur much later.
Among such dangerous diseases:
- Sexually transmitted infections. Syphilis, gonorrhea, lymphogranuloma of venereal origin, donovanosis, and chancre are widespread, according to the Ministry of Health of Russia. Particularly often, infection with the corresponding pathogens is recorded in some resort countries located closer to the south;
- Chlamydia is a disease that often occurs in women. Is recurrent in nature, often transforms into a chronic infection;
- Trichomoniasis, which, in addition to itching, is accompanied by a foamy discharge, with an unpleasant odor and with a yellow-green color;
Genital warts, which are caused by the human papillomavirus. As a result, the woman develops warts on the genitals, provoking discomfort;
- Genital herpes, which can cause severe itching in the vaginal area. In addition, a woman will be disturbed by formations that look like skin rashes. They, in addition to itching, are accompanied by painful sensations;
- Mycoplasmosis and ureaplasmosis, as well as other sexually transmitted infections, are accompanied by itching;
- Urethritis, cervicitis, endometritis - all these diseases can occur as complications of existing genital infections. With urethritis, the mucous membrane lining the urethra itches and becomes inflamed, unpleasant sensations are accompanied by burning and painful sensations during urination. With cervicitis, the cervical mucosa becomes inflamed, and itching occurs in the vaginal area. Cervicitis can also develop after injury. With endometritis, the uterus becomes inflamed, and the woman is worried about the discharge, which causes irritation of the external genital organs.
If the above diseases, which can lead to itching and burning in the intimate area, are more typical for women of reproductive age, but there are also pathologies that more often affect women after 45 years.
- Kraurosis of the vulva. This is a pathological process of an atrophic nature with a chronic course. It affects the skin and mucous membrane of the vulva, occurs against the background of age-related changes. In addition to a burning sensation in the area of the entrance gate to the vagina, the woman has a feeling of dryness and burning in the clitoris (which undergoes sclerotic changes), labia and the vagina itself (against the background of its stenosis);
- Atrophic changes in the vaginal mucosa. When a woman enters the climacteric period, less natural lubrication is released, as a result of which the mucous membrane dries up, becomes more sensitive, hurts and itches, especially after intercourse. Atrophic changes are triggered by menopause, when the vaginal tissue becomes thinner. In addition, autoimmune diseases can cause atrophy;
- Malignant and benign formations of the vagina, as well as the cervix and body of the uterus. Unpleasant sensations in the form of burning and itching can be triggered by such serious pathologies as polypous growths, oncological diseases, cyst of the Gartner's passage, myoma and fibroma;
- Fistulas. They provoke inflammation of the vagina by reacting with urine, which they enter during the process of urination. Fistulas can form as a result of an incorrectly performed cesarean section, after intensive labor and postponed urological and gynecological operations;
- Diseases of a non-gynecological nature. Any infectious pathology starts the process of intoxication in the body. It affects all organs and organ systems, so it can cause itching anywhere.
The intimate zone of a woman in this regard is no exception:
- An allergic reaction to any irritant provokes a skin rash and dermatitis, which often appear in the genital area;
- Diabetes mellitus is another disease, the symptom of which can be itching in the intimate area. To exclude such a diagnosis, it is necessary to take a blood glucose test;
- Chronic fatigue syndrome, exposure to stress factors. Especially often anxious and sensitive women suffer from depressive moods, overwork and stress. It is known that any psychological disorders and diseases of the nervous system (neuropathies - peripheral and central) affect the skin receptors, provoking itching, including in the intimate area;
- Diseases of the thyroid gland, kidney and liver pathology. Dysfunction of the thyroid gland, cirrhosis, hepatitis, leukemia, anemia and other diseases of the most important internal organs of a person have a negative effect on the entire body. This also applies to the crotch area;
Phthiriasis and helminthiasis. It turns out that infection with parasites (helminths) can provoke itching not only in the anus, but also in the vagina and the surrounding external tissues. Therefore, the gynecologist often gives a referral for the delivery of an analysis for the eggs of the worm. Phthiriasis is another common and quite obvious cause of itching in the intimate area;
- Diseases of the digestive system. Mild itching, burning sensation and painful sensations in the vaginal area are sometimes caused by problems such as intestinal dysbiosis, hemorrhoids (internal and external), proctitis, anal fissures;
- Hematological diseases. Oncological problems such as leukemia, lymphogranulomatosis, oncology of the female genital organs, even the early stage of the disease - all this can provoke discomfort in the perineal region;
- Cystitis can cause itching and burning in the intimate zone in women, which is often combined with other sexually transmitted diseases: vaginal candidiasis, intestinal dysbiosis. Pyelonephritis is a frequent companion of cystitis. See also: Cystitis in women - causes, symptoms, how to treat;
Other factors are endogenous and exogenous. There are external and internal reasons that can provoke itching and burning in the genital area in women, but they are not associated with gynecological pathologies or the body as a whole.
If the itching does not stop after the elimination of the following etiological factors after three days, then it is advisable to consult a gynecologist:
- Wearing underwear that does not meet hygiene standards and requirements. It can be too tight, tight or uncomfortable, or made of synthetic materials. As a result, a greenhouse effect is created in the intimate zone, often combined with injury to the skin. Poor-quality underwear is one of the common causes of itching and burning in the intimate area of women;
- The use of hygiene products containing irritating components. Itching can be caused by harsh chemicals, preservatives, fragrances, aromatic additives included in soaps, deodorants, shower gels. In addition, sanitary towels, tampons and toilet paper are potential hazards. Even the detergents used to treat the laundry often cause unwanted manifestations on the part of the genitals. An allergic reaction can occur to dyes that make up the clothing;
- Hypothermia of the pelvic organs and external genital organs, as well as their overheating, can cause itching;
- Creams and tablets used intravaginally, ointments and vaginal suppositories used to prevent unwanted pregnancies can cause itching and burning sensations in the intimate area;
- A contraceptive such as a condom can also cause irritation and itching. A reaction from the female genital organs can occur to the latex from which the product is made. In addition, lubricants, spermicides, and lubricants used to treat condoms are potential irritants. Typically, an adverse reaction occurs immediately after intercourse;
- Prolonged nervous tension and severe stress can cause itching in the intimate area and throughout the body as a whole;
- Violation of the diet, excessive enthusiasm for a variety of diets entails a lack of vitamins and beneficial trace elements, this negatively affects the immune system, the ability of the skin to regenerate and causes irritation and itching in the intimate area. In addition, a hobby for semi-finished and instant foods due to the abundance of allergenic preservatives and dyes in them has a negative impact. Itching in the intimate area can cause spicy, pickled and sweet dishes;
- Failure to comply with the rules of intimate hygiene. At least once a day, a woman needs to wash her genitals without using soap solutions.
Itching in an intimate place after taking antibiotics
Unreasonable intake of antibacterial drugs in dosages exceeding the recommended values can provoke a pathological reaction of the body, which is expressed in allergies and dysbiosis. These processes are often accompanied by severe itching in the intimate area.
The following conditions are capable of provoking itching after the end of the course of antibiotic therapy:
- Vaginal dysbiosis. Normally, there are up to 40 types of bacteria in the vagina. They mutually control each other's activity and protect the woman from pathogenic flora. Taking antibacterial drugs is capable of disrupting this balance, harmful bacteria will begin to prevail over useful ones. As a result, the woman will develop vaginal dysbiosis with all the accompanying symptoms;
- Allergic reactions. Taking any medications threatens the development of allergies. It often manifests itself in various skin reactions. Therefore, itching in the intimate area while taking antibiotics may be due to allergies. This process can be accompanied by the appearance of a rash like urticaria or a rash characteristic of measles, in the form of erythema or contact dermatitis. After discontinuation of the drug and taking antihistamines and enterosorbent drugs, itching usually disappears. It is also possible to use ointments with glucocorticoids, however, they are prescribed for prolonged skin reactions. The most dangerous in terms of the development of contact dermatitis are antibacterial drugs of the penicillin series;
- Intestinal dysbiosis can also cause itching in the intimate area. Rather, not the dysbiosis itself, but the consequences that it causes: vaginitis, colpitis, urethritis, candidiasis, etc. As you know, it is intestinal dysbiosis that is the most frequent complication of taking antibacterial drugs. See also: treatment of dysbiosis with folk remedies.
In order to prevent the development of undesirable consequences from antibiotic treatment, it is necessary to avoid prescribing them independently. Dosage, frequency of administration, timing of the therapeutic course, parallel intake of eubiotics - all these questions must be decided by the attending doctor. If itching does appear, then consultation with the attending physician is necessary.
Itching, odor and discharge in women in the intimate area
Normally, every woman periodically has vaginal discharge. In young girls, they can be more abundant than in women of reproductive age and menopause. They should be inconspicuous, transparent, or creamy or white. There is no smell from such secretions. Their consistency is liquid, during the ovulation process, secretions can become stretching and slimy.
If an unpleasant odor comes from the discharge, and they provoke an itching feeling, then this is considered a deviation from the norm.
Such discharge requires attention and medical attention:
- A sour smell and change in consistency (curdiness) may indicate the onset of vaginal candidiasis. There are many reasons for this disease (hormonal disorders, dysbiosis, taking medications, using inappropriate hygiene products, etc.);
- Transparent foamy discharge can be a symptom of infection of the body with chlamydia;
- If leucorrhoea has a grayish tint and an unpleasant fishy odor, then this may indicate gardnerellosis, bacterial vaginosis. At the same time, the vaginal microflora, represented by lactobacilli, is disturbed, the beneficial flora is replaced by anaerobic bacteria and gardnerella. As a rule, such discharge does not leave marks on the laundry. However, during intercourse, the smell of rotten fish appears, the discharge intensifies after intimacy. There can be many reasons for grayish leucorrhoea with an unpleasant odor - a decrease in immune defense, menopause, hormonal dysfunction, pregnancy, menopause, intestinal dysbiosis, etc.;
- If the discharge becomes greenish, has an unpleasant odor, becomes abundant, then this speaks in favor of the addition of an inflammatory reaction and suppuration. It is the abundance of leukocytes killed in the fight against inflammation that gives the secretions a greenish tint. The stronger the inflammatory reaction, the richer the color will be, the stronger the smell and itching in the intimate area;
- If the discharge has a yellowish tint, accompanied by itching and odor, then this may be a sign indicating Trichomonas infection. This color is caused by the defeat of the vaginal Trichomonas, and there are not too many leukocytes in it.
Strengthening leucorrhoea can be triggered by inflammation of the appendages, vagina, cervix (cervicitis) or the body of the organ.
The following types of discharge, accompanied by itching and odor, should be the reason for going to the doctor:
- Abundant, white, with cheesy patches;
- Clear, frothy discharge;
- Brown stains on laundry between periods. Any pathological change in the color of the discharge;
- The appearance of a putrid, sour, "fishy" smell;
- Leucorrhoea, accompanied by a burning sensation when urinating against the background of an increase in body temperature, with a feeling of dryness and discomfort both after intercourse and regardless of intimacy.
Abundant discharge, odorless and itchy
Discharge from female representatives should be, as this is the result of the normal functioning of the vaginal mucosa. It is thanks to the secretions that it self-cleans, gets rid of various bacterial microorganisms, from dead epithelial cells, from menstrual blood, from accumulated mucus.
In the vast majority of cases, vaginal discharge is colorless and odorless. But sometimes their volume can increase, which makes a woman alert. In some cases, there is indeed cause for concern, since profuse discharge can indicate serious illness. However, the discharge at the same time changes its consistency and smell, becomes the cause of discomfort and itching. In this case, you need to seek help from a specialist.
An increased volume of secretions that are colorless and odorless may indicate the following reactions and processes in the body:
- The period of ovulation has come;
- The next menstruation is approaching;
- The woman is sexually aroused;
- There was a change in the climatic zone;
- Pregnancy has taken place;
- Has suffered severe stress;
- The girl entered puberty.
It is worth remembering that the volume of vaginal discharge throughout the day should not exceed one teaspoon or 2 ml. They must have a uniform consistency and not have an unpleasant odor.
Itching and burning in the intimate area without discharge
The reasons that can lead to itching and burning in the genital area against the background of a lack of discharge may be as follows:
- Violation of the rules of intimate hygiene (contact with urine, activity of sweat glands, folded structure of the external genital organs, etc.);
- Illiterate depilation and the use of a razor to remove hair (scratches and other micro-injuries appear, ingrown hairs can also irritate the skin);
- The impact of temperature changes on the genitals;
- Wearing tight-fitting underwear (size discrepancy, rough seams, low-quality materials);
- Injuries to the genitals;
- Using soap for intimate hygiene (too frequent use of it), which leads to dryness of the skin of the intimate area and itching;
- The use of low-quality pads and tampons, which can cause an allergic reaction;
- Propensity to develop allergic reactions;
- Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism;
- Diseases of the liver and gallbladder (itching is caused by the accumulation of bile acids in the body, can occur on any part of the body, including in the perineum);
- Genital herpes;
- Pubic lice.
Some diseases of the gynecological sphere, with certain features of their course, may not be accompanied by secretions, but cause a sensation of itching and burning, for example, ureaplasmosis, trichomoniasis and others. Therefore, if discomfort of an unexplained etiology occurs, it is necessary to seek the advice of a doctor.
Itching in the intimate area during pregnancy
Itchy skin that occurs in the perineal region while a woman is carrying a baby is an unfavorable manifestation of pregnancy. Most often, its cause lies in hormonal changes occurring in the body of a pregnant woman.
Serious fluctuations in hormonal levels often cause a malfunction in the functioning of the immune system. As a result, the vaginal microflora changes, the number of pathogens is growing. This can provoke colpitis, candidiasis, dysbiosis and other diseases. Therefore, if itching appears in the intimate area at the time of gestation, it is necessary to urgently seek advice from an obstetrician-gynecologist. He will perform the necessary tests and, if necessary, select the appropriate therapy. It is strictly forbidden to self-medicate while carrying a fetus, as it endangers the health of the unborn child.
When detecting candidiasis of the vagina, a pregnant woman should not panic. According to the available statistics, it affects 80 to 90% of all women who are carrying a child. With timely and correct therapy, its success without consequences for the fetus is almost 100%.
In addition to the fact that itching can be triggered by hormonal changes, the cause can be both general diseases and pathologies of the gynecological sphere, as well as the exogenous and endogenous factors listed above.
It is important to remember that from the 14th week of pregnancy, vaginal discharge intensifies, which is triggered by the work of the placenta, which begins to produce progesterone. Therefore, during this period, increased attention should be paid to intimate hygiene. It is worth making sure that an unpleasant odor does not emanate from the discharge, since its presence is a sign of a woman's ill health.
Special requirements for the hygiene of pregnant women are also imposed due to possible urinary incontinence and increased work of the sebaceous and sweat glands. All this can also provoke itching in the intimate area, especially against the background of insufficient care.
The underwear worn by the expectant mother should be comfortable and made of high quality natural materials.
How to treat itching in the intimate area?
To get rid of the unpleasant feeling of itching and burning in the genital area, you must try to exclude all possible factors that are not associated with diseases of the body and the reproductive system.
- Perhaps a new shower product, washing powder, inexpensive linen, etc. was purchased and used;
- The beginning of contraception is another cause of itching in the intimate area;
- You need to listen to the body, think about what could become an exogenous factor provoking itching and burning.
If the probable cause is established, but after its elimination the itching does not stop for three days, an appeal to the doctor is mandatory.
Read more: List of medicines for itchy skin
Doubtful and unprotected sexual intercourse is a reason for undergoing a gynecological examination, even in the absence of itching. If the symptom appears (even after a long time), referral to the doctor is mandatory. Latent infections can covertly exist in the body, exerting a pathogenic effect on all its systems. A sign that helps to suspect a latent disease is increased itching during the ovulatory cycle and before or during the next menstruation. After menstruation, itching becomes less pronounced, or disappears completely. It is impossible to cure a genital infection on your own. The type of pathogen, its sensitivity to antibacterial drugs, must be determined by laboratory means, and only after that their selection is carried out. In addition, the doctor recommends vitamin therapy, physiotherapy,selects means for the normalization of intestinal and vaginal microflora, etc.
Cheesy discharge and itching in the intimate area are common symptoms of candidiasis. You should not buy popular drugs without determining the cause of the disease. They will only help to drown out unpleasant manifestations for a while, and candidiasis threatens to become chronic. Only a specialist can help determine the etiology of the disease.
In case of atrophic processes that have affected the genital mucosa, doctors select hormonal drugs. It is possible that they will be applied topically and will allow a woman in menopause to get rid of itching and burning in the intimate area. Do not take hormones on your own. They have a large number of serious side effects and are capable of provoking cancer.
It is also not necessary to do any douching without the recommendation of a doctor. Most gynecologists generally oppose this procedure and prescribe it only if absolutely necessary. Therefore, in order to get rid of itching and burning in the intimate area, you must first of all consult a doctor. Only in this way the problem will be completely eliminated, and the woman's health and her quality of life will not suffer.
The author of the article: Lapikova Valentina Vladimirovna | Gynecologist, reproductologist
Education: Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology received at the Russian State Medical University of the Federal Agency for Healthcare and Social Development (2010). In 2013 completed postgraduate studies at N. N. N. I. Pirogova.