Everyone will experience irritation or itching on some parts of their body at some point in time. When women and girls experience itching and burning sensations in the vagina or vulva, it is often an embarrassing and disconcerting experience (1). Vagina and vulvar itching and burning is usually a sign of bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. In some cases, menopause, postpartum or a sexually transmitted disease such as trichomoniasis, herpes or chlamydia, maybe to blame. Intense vaginal burning and vulva itching are often worse at night, making this condition horrible to live with. But don’t worry. There are plenty of home remedies for vulvar itching that provide a natural treatment to soothe the irritation.
1. Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
If the burning sensation is accompanied by smelly vaginal discharge (which may look grayish white or yellow), the bacterial ecosystem in your vagina may have been disrupted.
This usually occurs in women who have a high number of sexual partners and who douche (2). BV can be harmful to a pregnant woman and her fetus; medical treatment is strongly advised if you are expecting.
2. Sexually transmitted disease (STDs)
Many common STDs (e.g. trichomoniasis, genital warts, genital herpes, chlamydia, pubic lice, and gonorrhea) cause Bartholin cysts, vulvar itching and irritation.
STDs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and pregnancy complications if left untreated (3).
3. Yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis)
This is a common infection that will affect 75% of women at least once in their lives.If there is a thick white vaginal discharge alongside vulvar itching and burning sensations, it is possible that a yeast overgrowth has occurred.
This may have happened because of sexual intercourse, pregnancy, antibiotics, or a weakened immune system (4).
4. Chemical irritants and allergies
Vulvar burning and irritation may also be caused by allergic reactions to the chemical substances found in common personal healthcare items.
Soaps, laundry detergents, creams, spermicides, vaginal sponges, feminine deodorants, contraceptive foams, douches, tampons, and pads can all irritate the vulva and vagina
The itching usually subsides once you stop using them. You should opt for “unscented”, “fragrance-free” and latex-free contraceptives if this is applicable to you (5).
5. Menopause and postpartum
Menopause vulvar itching and postpartum vulvar itching are common. They are caused by a sudden drop in your estrogen levels. Your vaginal walls may become thinner and drier especially.
This can cause irritation and itching; Vulva itching during pregnancy can also occur due to hormonal changes, but it is more common postpartum, especially for breastfeeding women. (6).
6. Lichen sclerosis
Postmenopausal women are also susceptible to this rare condition.
It involves the formation of thin white patches on the skin, especially around the vulvar. These patches can cause permanent scars around the vaginal area as well as itching and burning sensations (7).
7. Unsuitable clothing
Overly tight-fitting or nonabsorbent clothing can cause heat rashes in the vaginal area.
Vulvar Itching Medical Treatment
If you suffer from vulvar itching or burning, do overcome any embarrassment you may feel to consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
There is no standard medical vulvar itching treatment as different treatments may be prescribed according to the underlying cause:
- For vaginosis and STDs: antibiotics or antiparasitics
- For yeast infections: antifungal medications
- For menopause-related itching: estrogen cream, tablets, or a vaginal ring insert
- For lichen sclerosis: steroid creams or lotions
Apart from maintaining proper genital hygiene and a healthy diet, you can also turn to a vulvar itching home remedy to make a faster recovery (and prevent any re-infections).
The remedy you choose will depend on the cause of your itching. If you are unsure, consult a doctor.
If you have bacterial vaginosis, the bacterial ecosystem in your vagina may have been disrupted. A 2014 study observed that the common treatments for BV (metronidazole and clindamycin) do not actually prevent its recurrence (8).
Since the number of lactobacilli in the vaginas of women with BV is significantly lower than their healthy counterparts, the introduction of lactobacilli bacteria can rebalance vaginal flora.
You can introduce Lactobacilli bacteria by consuming foods that contain the bacteria or by direct application to the vagina.
Both methods are effective in restoring the balance of healthy vaginal bacteria (without causing any adverse effects).
Natural yogurt is packed full of lactobacilli bacteria and is an excellent vulvar itching home remedy. It will help kill all the yeast and bad bacteria in the vagina.
How to relieve vulvar itching with yogurt
- Cover a tampon in yogurt and insert it into the vagina. Leave it there for two hours and repeat twice a day
- Remember to eat plain cultured yogurt every day as well.
Similar to yogurt, it is a fermented dairy food rich in probiotics that is packed with lactobacilli and Bifidus bacteria that are very effective in rebalancing your vaginal flora.
An application of kefir can help sooth vulvar itching and swelling for immediate relief.
How to treat vulvar itching with kefir
- Cover a tampon with kefir and insert it into the vagina. Leave it there for two hours and repeat twice a day
- Remember to drink two glasses of kefir every day as well.
- Propolis (bee glue)
This sticky, greenish-brown product organic product is used as a coating for their hives. It is made from the combination tree sap, bee discharges, and beeswax.
A 2017 journal found that the direct application of a 5% aqueous propolis solution improves vulva itching and burning by virtue of its antibiotic and antifungal actions (9).
Propolis is often used as a remedy for BV and yeast infections since its anesthetic properties provide quick vulva itching relief.
To benefit from its antibacterial properties, simply prepare a 5% aqueous solution of propolis with warm water and apply it to the affected area for seven days.
A 2017 journal article published in Journal of Medical Mycology (10) noted that honey demonstrates a wide spectrum of activity against many human pathogens.
In particular, honey has proven to be effective in exhibiting antifungal activity against various Candida species (i.e. yeast). It is an excellent vulvar itching home remedy.
While it exhibits different efficacy in inhibiting different yeast strains, you stand to benefit by applying raw or processed honey to your vagina once a day.
You can also consume two tablespoons of honey with a glass of warm water each day.
- Marigold or Calendula Cream
A 2018 journal established that marigold extract-based cream (Calendula cream) was as effective in treating BV in women of reproductive age (without any side effects) as metronidazole (11).
You can use this herb as a vulvar itching home remedy to relieve burning sensations and vaginal odor.
Tap into its antibacterial and antifungal properties by applying an ointment or cream containing marigold to your vagina once a day or if itching is worse at night, apply before bed.
- Apple cider vinegar
Given that her condition was severe (she had experienced an intense vaginal discharge with foul odor, itching, groin pain, and infertility for the past five years), the researchers concluded that apple cider vinegar served as a potent alternative treatment method.
To use ACV as a vulvar itching home remedy
- Add two tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and use this to clean your vagina twice a day throughout the week.
- Consume 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar alongside 1 teaspoon of raw honey and a glassful of warm water twice a day.
- Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath and soak for thirty minutes.
- Ozonated olive oil
Ozonated olive oil is thought to be able to cure a wide variety of ailments and confer various health benefits.
On 2016 study found that ozonated olive oil was an effective alternative treatment for vaginal yeast infections (13).
This is because ozone has antifungal effects that are comparable to that of clotrimazole cream.
The researchers noted that it was able to significantly reduce burning sensations and vulvar itching in the participants.
To use olive oil as a vulvar itching home remedy, simply apply a mixture of ozonated olive oil and warm water topically once a day.
- Cranberry juice
A 2016 article published in the Canadian Journal of Urology established that drinking unsweetened cranberry eliminated a potential pathogen from the vagina in 42% subjects when consumed twice each day (14).
Cranberry juice is also known to prevent urinary tract infections without causing any adverse effects on vaginal bacteria.
You can thus benefit by drinking 2 glasses of unsweetened cranberry juice each day until the itching or burning subsides.
- Myrtle essential oil
The standard treatment for vulvar itching caused by bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal gel containing metronidazole.
However, the treatment is significantly improved when myrtle oil is added to the gel.
Researchers found that vulvar itching from BV returned in 30% of cases who were treated with just metronidazole, but for those using myrtle, symptoms did not reoccur. (15)
Garlic is rich in allicin, sulfur, zinc, calcium, and selenium which is why it’s antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory in nature. It can help treat all the causes of vulvar itching.
Garlic can be consumed raw or in the form of juice, powder or capsule or can be used topically:
To use garlic to treat vaginal itching
- Add a few drops of garlic essential oil to a teaspoon of olive oil
- Massage the oil into the affected area.
- Wait 20 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
- It may sting a little, but it will kill bacteria and when it is rinsed away, it will soothe vulvar swelling.
- Chamomile cream
An application of hydrocortisone cream for vulva itching is often prescribed for irritation that is not fungus or bacteria related. While it does provide relief, there are significant side effects of hydrocortisone creams.
If you have postpartum vulva itching, menopause vulvar itching, or lichen sclerosis, chamomile is the best cream to treat the problem and a viable alternative to hydrocortisone creams.
Chamomile is a member of the daisy family and has been shown in studies to be anti-inflammatory. If itching is due to vaginal dryness, then chamomile will soothe the swelling and irritation.
Studies have also shown that chamomile cream can be as effective as hydrocortisone. (16)
Apply the vulva itching cream topically to the affected area. If itching is worse at night, apply before bed.
- Indian Lilac or Neem
Its antiseptic properties which quickly get to work on the fungus.
To treat vulva itching with neem:
- Simply boil up a handful of leaves in 3 cups of mineral water.
- Allow to cool and use the solution to rinse the vulvar.
- Add a couple of drops of neem oil to warm and use this instead.
- You can also drink neem tea or take the extract of neem in capsule form.
- Bring to the boil a handful of dried leaves in capsule form
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains lauric acid as well as caprylic acid which are anti-inflammatory.
It helps kill the germs that cause bacterial vaginosis and will fight off a yeast infection. It will provide fast relief from irritation of the vulvar, vaginal itching and reduce inflammation. (17).
How to use coconut oil as a vulva itching home remedy
- Apply some organic coconut oil directly to the affected area three times a day.
- Once a day, immerse a tampon in coconut oil and place it in your vagina. Leave it for a few hours. Remove the tampon and wash the infected area thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Add some coconut oil to your daily meals
- Baking Soda
One of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis is the pH level of your vagina is disturbed. This promotes the growth of pathogenic bacteria and it is these bad bacteria that cause the vulva itching.
Baking soda works by restoring the natural pH of the vagina.
How to use baking soda as a vulva itching home remedy
- Do not use a baking soda paste for vulvar itching. A paste will be too strong and cause an intense burning much worse than the condition itself.
- Instead, run a bath and add a cup of baking soda to the water
- Soak for at least thirty minutes.
- Tea tree oil
The oil breaks down the candida yeast membrane, weakening the cell wall allowing your body’s immune defense to get to work. (18)
To use Tea tree oil
- Add 5 drops of oil to your bath and soak for thirty minutes.
- Do not consume as it is toxic
- It is not advised to apply the oil topically to the vulva or inside the vagina as it is too powerful and may induce further irritation and burning.
- Witch Hazel
The fungus, Candida, is the main cause of vaginal yeast infections. It is suited to a slightly acidic environment in the vagina. Any treatment that causes the acidity of the vagina to rise can encourage the growth of this fungus.
Witch hazel is a popular vulva itching home remedy. It is a strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and can be used to treat the itching from bacterial vaginosis.
However, witch hazel raises the pH of the vagina, and if you have a fungus infection, while the antiseptic will help reduce fungus growth, the raised pH may do the opposite and promote fungus growth.
We have heard anecdotal evidence that, for women with fungal infections, vulvar itching got worse after using witch hazel.
Only use witch hazel for vulvar itching if you are certain you have bacterial vaginosis.
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Stay hydrated throughout each day to help clean out your urinary tract
- Use plain, non-scented soap to clean the vulvar
- Get tested for STDs
- Always use sexual protection properly during intercourse
- Wipe from front to back
- Change your underwear every day
- Avoid smoking and douching
- Do not wash your vagina more than once per day to avoid dryness
- Avoid scratching the itchy or burning area
- Avoid all “scented” feminine hygiene products
- Avoid sexual intercourse
- Avoid wearing tight underwear or clothes made of synthetic fibers