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Why does my vagina itch and burn?

Learn the common causes of vaginal itching and burning and how to protect yourself from discomfort this summer

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Do yeast infections burn and itch?

Caused by an overgrowth of Candida, a naturally occurring fungus that lives on your body, yeast infections can cause intense itching, burning, and thick, white vaginal discharge. Yeast infections are often triggered by factors like antibiotic use, diets high in sugar, or weakened immune systems. 

There are several ways to treat uncomfortable symptoms caused by yeast infections. Antifungal creams purchased over-the-counter at your local drug store can be effective for most types of yeast, but many types respond better to a prescription strength medication. The most effective treatments for yeast infections are prescription-strength oral, topical, or vaginal suppository medications. A health care provider like Hey Jane can prescribe these medications without an in-person visit after filling out a short online medical intake form. Your prescription can be sent to your local pharmacy so you can start feeling relief from itching and burning ASAP.

Does bacterial vaginosis (BV) cause itching?

Bacterial vaginosis occurs due to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. People with BV often experience discomfort, burning, and a fishy-smelling discharge after coming into contact with semen. This infection can be caused by activities that introduce new bacteria and/or disrupt the natural bacterial balance, like scented soaps, introducing a new sexual partner, and unprotected sex.

Treating bacterial vaginosis typically involves antibiotics, either in the form of oral tablets or as a vaginal gel or cream, prescribed by your health care provider. Hey Jane can prescribe these medications after a quick online consultation, and send them to your local pharmacy for fast, easy pick up.

Do sexually transmitted infections (STIs) hurt?

Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, herpes, and HPV can also cause itching, burning, pelvic pain, sores, and other symptoms. People with chlamydia and gonorrhea often experience minimal symptoms, but the infections can still cause discomfort.

Treating STIs generally involves specific antibiotics or antiviral medications, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from a health care provider to avoid complications. You can get tested for STIs at a local clinic. If you have a confirmed herpes diagnosis, you can get treatment for oral and vaginal outbreaks with Hey Jane here.

Do soaps and detergents cause itching?

Scented soaps, bubble baths, and laundry detergents can irritate the delicate skin of the vulva and vagina, leading to itching and burning. Some of these may even claim to “balance pH,” but most soaps have a category of ingredients called surfactants in them which can irritate skin, kill helpful bacteria, and do more harm than good. Switching to unscented, mild products can help alleviate these symptoms.

Treat your yeast infection ASAP

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Treat your yeast infection ASAP

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Do pads and tampons cause itching?

Products like scented tampons, pads, and sprays and washes intended for use on the vulva can cause irritation and allergic reactions. These products can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina and should be avoided to prevent irritation. Remember: All vaginas naturally have some odor. If you feel like the odor you are experiencing isn’t normal for you, or is getting in the way of feeling good, reach out to a trusted provider to be evaluated. Your vagina does not need extra scents to be healthy, despite what a lot of advertising may tell you!

Does tight clothing cause yeast infections?

Wearing tight underwear or pants (especially after a workout) can trap moisture and create friction, creating an environment where yeast thrives. Opting for breathable fabrics like cotton and looser-fitting clothing can help reduce irritation (not to mention cool you off in the summer heat). If you prefer to wear tight clothes, do your best to try and change out of them when they get wet or sweaty.

Itching during menopause

During menopause, decreased estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness and irritation, causing itching and burning. This condition, known as atrophic vaginitis, can be managed with topical estrogen treatments or vaginal moisturizers.There are many vulvar and vaginal conditions that can cause these symptoms, so it’s important to get evaluated by a trusted provider to identify the root cause.

Itching in pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect vaginal sensitivity and lead to discomfort. Increased discharge and changes in pH levels can contribute to itching and burning, making it important for pregnant people to maintain good hygiene practices and use gentle products.

Summer heat waves are pesky enough without uncomfortable vaginal symptoms. Take care of yourself as best as you can—use mild soaps and detergents, practice safe sex, and opt for loose, comfortable clothing. If you do experience vaginal itching or burning, make an appointment with a health care provider to get answers—and relief, fast.

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Written by

Abbi Havens (MSW)

Abbi (she/her) is an Austin-based writer and editor with a passion for queer theory, sexuality, health, and culture. She received her master's degree with a concentration in LGBTQIA+ Sexual Health and Education Interventions from Washington University in St. Louis.

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