Finding relief from vulvar itching will depend on what caused the itching in the first place. While the origins of some cases of vulvar itching require medication or antibiotic treatment, other causes can be relieved with simple home remedies.
In this article, we’ve outlined the various causes of vulvar itching and the most highly recommended home remedies to ease them.
What is Vulvar Itching?
The vulva, or the external part of the vagina, includes the clitoris, labia, and opening of the vagina. Vulvar itching, or vulvitis, is described as the irritation of these parts of the female genitalia and is usually caused by an allergic reaction, infection, existing skin condition, or menopause.
What Causes Vulvar Itching?
The most common cause of vulvar itching is contact dermatitis (or vulvar dermatitis) resulting from irritants or allergic reactions to scented soaps, harsh detergents, spermicides, condoms, or new hygiene products, as well as washing or douching the vagina too frequently.
Vaginal infections that can cause vulvar itching include sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis, chlamydia bacterial, and gonorrhea, in addition to bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and genital warts.
Some women with pre-existing skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, atopic dermatitis, or folliculitis may experience vulvar itching as an additional symptom.
Decreased levels of estrogen during menopause can lead to a thinning of the vaginal skin, which is also known as vaginal atrophy. This can make the soft skin folds of the vulva feel dry and itchy, and sometimes leads to severe irritation.
How to Treat Vulvar Itching Naturally
When the underlying cause of vulvar itching is an infection, medical treatment is usually required, however, home remedies can still provide relief from itching while taking medication.
Alternatively, when an allergic reaction, menopause, or an existing skin condition is at the root of vulvar itching, women may find that taking steps to ease the itching at home is sufficient.
Home Remedies for Vulvar Itching
The following are the most highly recommended home remedies to soothe vaginal and vulvar itching and irritation:
When dry skin from a pre-existing skin condition like eczema or dermatitis is the cause of vulvar itching, the National Eczema Association recommends taking regular baths with naturally-made oils to soothe itching and moisturize the skin.
Be careful to use unscented, dye-free natural oils to prevent any further irritation, and soak in the bath at least once per day for 10-15 minutes to ease itching and inflammation.
Naturally-Made Vaginal Moisturizer
A naturally-made vaginal moisturizer is easily applied for relieving vulvar itching and inflammation. For best results, experts recommend washing the vagina once or twice per day with unscented soap and warm water. Pat the sensitive area dry rather than rubbing it, and apply an unscented, organically made moisturizer to soothe the skin.
This Enchanted Rose Natural Vaginal Moisturizer, from Intimate Rose, is ideal for carrying with you when you go out, and perfect to ease vulvar itching. It is also beneficial to manage dry, thinning skin during menopause, as well as to rejuvenate the vagina post-pregnancy and after intercourse.
Experts at the National Eczema Association also point out that soaking in a warm bath with a quarter cup of added baking soda works well to relieve skin irritation and itching. Alternatively, make a paste with baking soda and a few drops of water and apply it directly to the area of irritated skin. Or add 2.5 milliliters of baking soda to 1 liter of water and use it to wash the vulva regularly.
According to a study in 2015, colloidal oatmeal (oat kernels ground into a fine powder to dissolve in water) significantly reduces the intensity of itching anywhere on the body, including vulvar itching. For best results, add a half-cup to one-and-a-half cups of colloidal oats to a warm bath and soak for up to 15 minutes. It’s important to note that soaking for more than 15 minutes in an oats bath could lead to a loss of skin moisture, which will only worsen itching.
Vitamin E for vaginal health is available in the form of suppositories and creams, and it is widely recommended by women's health experts to relieve vulvar itching. For example, during a 2016 study, menopausal women suffering from dry, thinning, and itchy vaginal skin reported that vitamin E significantly helped to reduce irritation and itching.
How to Know if Vulvar Itching is Caused by an Infection?
When a vaginal infection is the origin of vulvar itching, women will notice a few additional symptoms, such as a burning sensation when urinating, pain during intercourse, or a thick vaginal discharge that may be yellow, green, or white with a lumpy cottage cheese-like texture. Additionally, the vaginal discharge may emit a foul-smelling or fishy odor, and the lips of the vagina may appear swollen and red.
Infections that result in such symptoms include bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and sexually transmitted infections.Should you notice any of these symptoms, continue with your chosen home remedy to ease the itching, but also schedule an appointment with your doctor for medication to treat the underlying infection.
How to Prevent Vulvar Itching
As well as treating vulvar itching with home remedies when they occur, women can also consider some lifestyle changes to prevent it from happening again.
Avoid using any scented or fragranced products that come in contact with the vagina or vulva. Scented soaps, for example, as well as fragranced bubble baths, tampons, or panty liners, can cause allergic reactions.
Choose cotton underwear over synthetic materials to allow the intimate areas to breathe naturally, and remove any wet swimsuits or damp workout clothes as soon as possible. Additionally, swap your tight-fitting pants for more comfortable pants that allow air to circulate.
Practice safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, and choose natural lubricants and condoms to prevent any further irritation or reactions. Abstain from douching, which kills good bacteria as well as the harmful ones, and instead, wash with warm water and unscented soap. Lastly, always wipe from back to front.
While some cases of vulvar itching require medical treatment prescribed by a doctor, it is also possible to ease vaginal itching using home remedies like oatmeal baths, organic vaginal moisturizers and vitamin E.
Should you try a home remedy and still experience itching after two weeks, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Cleveland Clinic – Vulvitis - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15175-vulvitis
National Eczema Association – Eczema & Bathing - https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/bathing/
National Center for Biotechnology Information - A survey of the therapeutic effects of Vitamin E suppositories on vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women
Office of Women’s Health – Menopause & Relief - https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-symptoms-and-relief
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Effects of oral vitamin E on the treatment of atopic dermatitis: A randomized controlled trial
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in the treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25607907/
Office on Women’s Health – Vaginal Yeast Infections - https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections
Office on Women’s Health – Douching- https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/douching