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What could cause long-term vaginal itching?

Marcy Holmes, MSN, NP
Nursing Specialist

Various imbalances can contribute to vaginal itching. Top considerations include allergen contact, different types of infections, or some specific skin conditions.

Some common allergens that trigger contact dermatitis and itching and irritation, all worth avoiding when suffering from vulvar or vaginal itching issues, can include:

  • Soap and body washes
  • Chemicals from hot tubs or swimming pools
  • Detergent or fabric softener residue on underwear
  • Fragranced panty liners, maxi pads or tampons
  • Spermicides used alone or on condoms
  • Douching products

The most common infections that can cause itching can include:

  • Yeast, simple or resistant forms
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Trichomonas infection
  • HPV or genital warts
  • Herpes-atypical presentation

Skin conditions to ask to be evaluated for when allergens are removed and no infection can be identified, can include:

  • Atrophic vulvo-vaginitis, due to low estrogen
  • Lichen sclerosis (LS), an auto immune thinning condition
  • Desquamative inflammatory vaginitis (DIV)
  • Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (VVS)
  • Genital psoriasis
  • Precancerous or carcinoma of the vulva

A skilled gyn physician or nurse practitioner can be very helpful, or for difficult cases seeking the help of a vulvar dermatology specialist is wise. I have found The V-Book by Dr. Elizabeth Stewart tremendously helpful for my patients and my practice.

We also have excellent articles on vaginal health at womentowomen.com

Donna Ketcheson, RN
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

Assuming that your vagina has already been evaluated for the more common causes of vaginal itching (yeast infection, trichomoniasiss infections, BV), other causes of vaginal itching can be varied. Be sure to try an allergen-free clothes detergent, eliminate any sources of irritants like feminine hygiene sprays/powders and wear 100 percent cotton panties. Other diseases causing chronic vaginal itching can be the human papillomavirus (warts, flat or raised, seen or unseen), an autoimmune disorder called lichen sclerosis, perhaps herpes virus, and dryness caused by estrogen deprivation. Additionally, sometimes the birth control NuvaRing can cause an increase in vaginal secretions and itching for some. Chronic, long term vaginal itching needs to be addressed and figured out! Sometimes, there is a scratch/itch cycle too, where once you start scratching then that causes more itching sensation and it's a vicious cycle.

Find a healthcare practitioner who will help you and listen to you.

Some of the causes of long-term vaginal itching include yeast, bacterial infections, and parasites. If left untreated, these infections can become chronic.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.