An itchy vulva is definitely not pleasant to deal with. It’s irritating, distracting, and you can’t exactly scratch it whenever you want to make the itching go away. If you’re experiencing itching, you’re probably wondering about the cause.
There are numerous things that could cause itching around your vagina, urethra, or labia, from wearing the wrong panties to an infection. One type of infection is a UTI, which is fairly common for women to experience. But are UTIs one of the causes of itching around your vagina or vulva?
What Are UTIs?
A UTI (urinary tract infection) is an infection somewhere in your urinary system. Your entire urinary system includes not just your bladder, but also the urethra (where the urine comes out), your kidneys, and the ureters, which connect the kidneys to the bladder.
A UTI is caused by bacteria entering the urinary system, usually from the bowel. Women are more likely to get UTIs than men due to their anatomy, namely a shorter urethra and the location of the urethra.
Do UTIs Cause Itching?
UTIs can cause a range of symptoms, but itching is typically not one of them. Itching around the vagina or vulva is much more likely to be due to vaginitis or another infection in the vagina.
However, there is a connection between vaginal infections and UTIs. If you have both urinary symptoms, such as a frequent urge to pee or pain when urinating, as well as itching, you could have both a UTI and a vaginal infection.
Although UTIs are most often caused by bacteria from the bowel, studies have also shown that vaginal bacteria can lead to UTIs by triggering bacteria from the bowel (E.coli) already hiding in the urethra to cause a UTI.
What Are Other UTI Symptoms?
Vaginal itching may not be a sign of a urinary tract infection, but there are other symptoms to look out for. It’s best to catch a UTI early so it can be treated with antibiotics and doesn’t progress further into the urinary tract.
One symptom that you might notice is that you feel the need to pee more often, but there’s little urine each time. When you do go, it might burn or feel painful.
Another symptom is that your urine might look or smell different. It could appear cloudy or have a strong smell, or it could be red, pink, or brown, which indicates blood in the urine.
Finally, some people with UTIs experience pelvic pain, especially in the center of the pelvis and around the pubic bone.
What Else Could Cause Vaginal Itching?
A UTI is unlikely to be the cause of vaginal itching, but there are other health issues that could cause this symptom. If you’re experiencing uncomfortable itching, it could be one of the following things.
Itching around your vagina or vulva can be due to the skin being irritated. The skin around your genitals can be very sensitive and there are many things that could cause itching.
Some possible irritants include soaps, clothes, feminine products, creams and ointments, detergents, and more. If you have changed anything in your usual routine or started using any new products, this could be triggering the itching.
Some itching around your genitals could be a result of a skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis. You might already have one of these skin diseases affecting you elsewhere on your body, but it can spread to the vulva. These problems are often treated with topical steroids.
Yeast infections are a common cause of vaginal itching. Yeast is normally present in the vagina, but it can grow out of control and cause problems. Yeast infections are the second most common type of vaginal infection after bacterial infections. They are usually treated with an antifungal medication, which can be topical or oral.
The most common type of vaginal infection is a bacterial infection, which can also cause itching. Bacterial vaginosis can cause similar symptoms to a yeast infection, although it doesn’t always result in symptoms. As well as itching, you might experience an unusual discharge that smells unpleasant.
Sexually transmitted diseases could be a cause of vaginal itching. These can include infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes, and trichomoniasis. STDs will often have other symptoms too, which can depend on the disease.
Some common symptoms include unusual discharge, blisters or growths, pelvic pain, and pain when urinating or having sex.
How to Relieve or Treat Vaginal Itching
The right methods for treating vaginal itching will depend on the cause. Vaginal itching is typically a symptom of an underlying condition, so treating the cause is just as important as relieving the itching.
If the cause is a bacterial infection, the best treatment is usually antibiotics. A yeast infection is fungal, so it will be treated with either an antifungal cream or a pill. STDs can also often be treated with a course of antibiotics, although the treatment will depend on the infection. If the itching is caused by an irritant, identifying it and removing it is the best thing to do.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re experiencing vaginal itching or other symptoms that aren’t going away, you should see a doctor. It’s not unusual to feel a little itchy sometimes, especially if you’re hot and sweaty, but persistent itching should be addressed.
Get Help From an Online Doctor
An online doctor can help you if you’re dealing with itching around your vulva and vagina. You can explain your symptoms and consult with the doctor to find out what’s wrong and how to treat it. Doctors can both diagnose and prescribe treatment for many problems virtually.
Vaginal itching can be caused by many things, although it’s unlikely to be a symptom of a UTI. If you have regular or persistent itching, it’s important to find out the cause so it can be effectively treated. Making an appointment with an online doctor means you can address the problem in the comfort of your home.
- Wong, E. S., Fennell, C. L., & Stamm, W. E. (1984). Urinary Tract Infection among Women Attending a Clinic for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 11(1), 18–23. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44965990
- Alena Salim, Fenella Wojnarowska, Skin diseases affecting the vulva, Current Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2005, Pages 97-107, ISSN 0957-5847, Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.curobgyn.2005.01.002
- Vaginal Candidiasis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html
- Anatomy of the Urinary System. John Hopkins Medicine. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/anatomy-of-the-urinary-system