12 Reasons you have that burning sensation in your vagina and how to treat it – Part 1

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Vaginal itching and irritation are common. It usually isn’t cause for concern. However, persistent itching, burning, and irritation may be a sign of infection or another underlying condition.

This includes discomfort anywhere in the vaginal area, such as your:

  • labia
  • clitoris
  • vaginal opening

These symptoms may begin suddenly or grow in intensity over time. The burning and irritation may be constant, or it may worsen during an activity like urination or sexual intercourse.

Keep reading to learn more about the possible causes, as well as other symptoms to watch for.

1. Irritation from things that indirectly affect the vagina

Chemicals found in everyday products can irritate the sensitive skin of the vagina and cause irritation and burning.

Products include:

  • laundry detergent
  • soaps
  • scented toilet paper
  • bubble bath products
  • menstrual pads

Irritation can also result from certain garments, including:

  • fitted pants
  • pantyhose or tights
  • tight underwear

These symptoms may develop as soon as you begin using a new product. If the irritation is a result of clothes, burning and other symptoms may develop gradually as you wear the items more.

How to treat this

Avoid using any scented or perfumed products on your genitals. If symptoms occur after you use a new product, stop using it to see if the symptoms clear.

Be sure to take a bath or shower after you’ve been in a swimming pool or hot tub to wash away bacteria and chemicals that might irritate the tender tissue around your vagina.

2. Irritation from things that directly affect the vagina

Tampons, condoms, douches, creams, sprays, and other products you might put in or near the vagina can cause vaginal burning. These products can irritate the genitals and cause symptoms.

How to treat this

The easiest way to treat this is to stop using the product you believe is causing the irritation. If it’s a new product, identifying it may be easy. If symptoms go away when you stop using it, you know the culprit.

If your contraception or a condom is the source of the irritation, talk with your doctor about alternatives. Some condoms are made for people with sensitive skin. They may be better for your partner to use during intercourse. An extra water-soluble lubricant might be needed.

3. Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15 to 44. It can develop when too much of a certain bacterium grows in the vagina.

In addition to burning, you may experience:

  • a thin white or grey discharge
  • a fish-like odour, especially after sex
  • itching outside the vagina

How to treat this

In some cases, BV will clear up without treatment. However, most women will need to see their doctor for prescription antibiotics. Be sure to take every dose of your prescription. This can help prevent the infection from returning.

4. Yeast infection

Almost 75 percent of women will experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. They occur when yeast in the vagina grows excessively.

In addition to burning, you may experience:

  • itching and swelling of the vagina
  • itching, redness, and swelling of the vulva
  • pain when you urinate or during intercourse
  • thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese
  • red rash on the outside of the vagina

How to treat this

Infrequent yeast infections can usually be cleared with home remedies or over-the-counter antifungal medications. Medications typically include creams, ointments, or suppositories, which are inserted into the vagina. These can be purchased at a pharmacy over the counter.

But if you suspect you have a yeast infection and this is your first one, make an appointment to see your doctor. Many other conditions mimic the symptoms of a yeast infection. A diagnosis from your doctor is the only way to confirm it.

5. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria get inside your urinary tract or bladder. It causes a feeling of internal burning and a painful sensation when you urinate.

You may also experience:

  • an intense urge to urinate, but little urine is produced when you try to go
  • the need to urinate frequently
  • pain when starting the stream
  • strong-smelling urine
  • cloudy urine
  • red, bright pink, or cola-colour urine, which may be a sign of blood in the urine
  • fever and chills
  • stomach, back, or pelvic pain

How to treat this

If you suspect a UTI, see your doctor. They’ll prescribe a course of antibiotics that will clear the infection right up. Be sure to take every dose, even if your symptoms have subsided. If you don’t complete the antibiotics, the infection might return. Drink extra fluids during this time.

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