Itching and vaginal discharge in adults and adolescents: what is this, causes, symptoms, diagnostics, treatment, prevention
Vaginal itching and discharge – adult and adolescent; Pruritus vulvae; Itching – vaginal area; Vulvar itching
Itching and vaginal discharge are the two most common symptoms, related to gynecological problems. If you experience these symptoms, important to understand, what causes them and how best to treat them.
What is vaginal itching and discharge?
Itching and vaginal discharge – common symptoms, which can occur in women of all ages. Vaginal itching occurs, when vulva (the outer part of the vagina) or the inside of the vagina becomes irritated or inflamed, which leads to scratching and a burning sensation in this area. Discharge is a liquid, which is secreted from the vagina and may vary in color, consistency and smell depending on your cycle and health status.
Causes of itching and vaginal discharge
There are many potential causes of itching and vaginal discharge.. These include:
- Yeast infections. Yeast infections are caused by excessive growth of the fungus Candida albicans. Symptoms of yeast infection include itching, burning and lumpy white discharge.
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV). Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. This can cause itching, burning and grayish-white discharge with a fishy smell.
- Trichomoniasis. Trichomoniasis is an STI, caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This can lead to itching, burning sensation, pain and foamy yellow-green discharge.
- Atrophic vaginitis. Atrophic vaginitis is caused by a decrease in estrogen levels, what can happen after menopause. This can cause itching, burning, pain and white or yellowish discharge.
- Infection, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). Such STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, may cause itching and pain, as well as yellowish or greenish discharge.
- Irritating substances. Such irritating substances, as lotions, soap, detergents and perfumes, can cause itching and irritation of the vagina.
- Allergic reactions. Allergic reactions to condoms, lubricants and spermicides can cause itching and irritation.
Symptoms of itching and vaginal discharge
Common symptoms of itching and vaginal discharge include::
- Vulvar itching, vagina or both.
- Burning sensation in the vulva, vagina or both.
- Unpleasant smell.
- Change in the color and/or consistency of the discharge.
- Painful sexual intercourse.
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting.
When to see a doctor
If you experience any of the above symptoms and think, that you may have a vaginal infection, it is important to consult a doctor for advice and treatment. Even if you think, that you know the cause of your symptoms, it is still recommended to undergo an examination, To make sure, that you don't have a long-term problem.
You should also see a doctor, if:
- Your symptoms don't improve with home treatment.
- Your symptoms get worse.
- You have other unexpected symptoms.
- Do you think, that you can be pregnant.
- Do you think, that an STI could become infected.
Questions, that your doctor may ask
When you visit your doctor about a vaginal infection, it, probably, ask you a few questions about your symptoms and medical history. These questions may include:
- How long have you been experiencing these symptoms??
- Have you ever had other vaginal infections??
- Do your symptoms worsen at certain times of the month??
- Do you use any soap?, lotion or other perfumed products for the care of the genitals?
- Are you in pain?, burning or itching during sex?
- Do you have any other symptoms, such as fever, rash or joint pain?
- Have you noticed any changes in your secretions?, for example a change in color or consistency?
Diagnosis of vaginal itching and discharge
Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam and use a sample of discharge to make a diagnosis.. Depending on the type of infection, you may also be asked to provide urine and blood samples for further analysis.. They may also ask about your sexual history and any recent sexual partners..
Treatment of vaginal itching and discharge
The type of treatment for a vaginal infection depends on the specific cause. Common treatments include:
- Antifungal creams, tablets or suppositories for yeast infection
- Cream, tablets or suppositories with an antibiotic for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis
- Antibiotics in tablets for trichomoniasis
- Cream, tablets or suppositories with estrogen for the treatment of atrophic vaginitis
- Antibiotics for STIs
Home treatment of itching and vaginal discharge
In addition to medical treatment, there are several home remedies, which can be used to relieve symptoms of vaginal infections, such as itching and discharge. These include:
- Keep the genital area clean and dry, avoid douching and using flavored foods.
- Wear breathable underwear made of natural fibers, e.g. cotton.
- Do not sit in wet clothes for a long time.
- Avoid tight clothing and pants.
- Diet, rich in probiotics, e.g. yogurt, fermented foods and kombucha.
- Take a warm bath with Epsom salt, to relieve irritation, itching and pain.
Prevention of itching and vaginal discharge
It is important to practice safe sex and hygiene, to prevent vaginal infections. Here are some things, things to keep in mind:
- Use condoms during sex.
- Wash the genital area regularly with mild soap and warm water.
- Avoid douching or using flavored products in the genital area.
- Avoid tight clothing and tights.
- Avoid using aggressive soaps or perfumes.
- Be sure to take off wet clothes, e.g. bathing suits and training clothes, as soon as possible after swimming or sweating.
Following these tips, you can reduce your risk of developing a vaginal infection and keep your vagina healthy and happy.
Itching and vaginal discharge can be caused by a variety of factors, from fungal infections to STIs and irritants. Symptoms vary depending on the cause, but usually include itching, жжение и изменения в выделениях. If you think, that you may have a vaginal infection, it is important to consult a doctor for advice and treatment. Besides, есть несколько домашних средств и профилактических мер, которые помогут снизить риск развития вагинальной инфекции.
Used sources and literature
Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Genital tract infections: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Crazy FOUR, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 23.
Scott GR. Sexually transmitted infections. In: Ralston SH, Penman ID, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 13.
Seller RH, Symons AB. Vaginal discharge and itching. In: Seller RH, Symons AB, eds. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 33.