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Most women experience vaginal itching, burning sensation, or irritation at some point in their lives. While there can be many reasons for this – including bacterial or yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and improper hygiene – yeast infections happen to be the most common cause. (1)
Vaginal yeast infections, or vulvovaginal candidiasis, are common fungal infections that can affect women of all ages. They can even become recurrent infections that keep coming back in some women.
If you suspect you have a yeast infection, it is best to consult your doctor for proper treatment. They are generally not contagious and are easily treatable with antifungal medicines and some home remedies.
Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching and Burning
You may try these remedies along with the medications to reduce the itching and burning sensation.
1. Take an apple cider vinegar bath
Apple cider vinegar is acidic and can help kill the yeast that is causing the infection.
You can soak in an apple cider vinegar bath for 10 minutes every day. Mix ½ cup of apple cider vinegar in a tub of lukewarm water to prepare it.
2. Boric acid
Boric acid is an approved remedy by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for vaginal yeast infections. It works best when used in combination with other antifungal medicines. (2)
Consult your doctor before using boric acid for your condition. They will suggest you the correct dosage and frequency of using this remedy.
3. Use a cold compress
A cold compress or cold water is a good remedy to achieve symptomatic relief from yeast infections. They help relieve the itching and irritation by numbing the area temporarily.
You can apply a clean (sterile) cold compress directly to the vulva or douche with cold water. (2)
4. Use finely ground oatmeal for outer itching
Colloidal oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It can help soothe vulvar irritation and stop the growth of fungus.
You can add oatmeal powder to a lukewarm bath and soak in it for a few minutes every day. (3)
5. Try Indian lilac
Neem, or Indian lilac, contains antiseptic qualities. It is a natural remedy for a number of skin infections. Neem baths can help provide relief from itching and help treat the underlying yeast infection.
Boil a few washed neem leaves in some water and let it cool. Strain the water and use it to wash the area. (4)
6. Drink cranberry juice
Cranberries are highly acidic, and drinking cranberry juice can help kill any pathogens in your body. It is especially useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections and vaginal infections. (5)
7. Use bath oils
If the cause of your vulvar itching is dryness and irritation, you can try adding bath oils such as lavender or coconut to your shower routine. You can rub a few drops of the oil over the affected skin after a shower or bath.
8. Consume vitamin E
Vitamin E can provide relief from itching and inflammation. It can help get rid of dryness and flaking. You can consume vitamin E supplements to help improve the problem.
Causes of Yeast Infections
Yeast infections occur due to the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. This can occur due to hormonal changes, humidity and excessive sweating, high blood sugar levels, etc.
Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infections
Common symptoms of vaginal yeast infections include:
- Pain during sex
- Itching and irritation
- Thick white discharge
- Smelly discharge
At Risk of Yeast Infections
The following people may be at higher risk of developing yeast infections:
- People on long-term antibiotic treatment
- Immunocompromised people such as patients with cancer, AIDS, and diabetes
Dietary Changes to Manage Vaginal Yeast Infections
Here are a few dietary changes you can make to prevent the recurrence of yeast infections and relieve inflammation:
1. Consume more yogurt
Yogurt is filled with probiotics that help fight against pathogens. Lactobacillus acidophilus is a natural part of the vaginal flora and can help prevent yeast infections.
2. Take oral probiotics
Consuming oral probiotics can be a good way to prevent recurrent yeast infections. They contain “beneficial bacteria” for the body that can help inhibit fungal growth. (6)
3. Add soy to your diet
Soy contains phytoestrogens that can help reduce vaginal dryness, especially in postmenopausal women. This can help prevent itching and irritation down there.
4. Include garlic in your diet
Garlic contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds. It helps treat the infection and relieve irritation. Consuming garlic every day also has other health benefits such as lowered cholesterol levels. Do not apply garlic to the vulva or vagina as this can cause burning.
How to Prevent a Vaginal Yeast Infection
To help prevent vaginal yeast infections:
- Avoid the use of scented feminine products such as scented tampons, pads, and vaginal sprays.
- Change your tampons and pads regularly on your period.
- Do not wear tight pants or shirts too often.
- Make sure to wipe front to back after you pee.
- If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels.
Does yogurt prevent or treat yeast infections?
Yogurt contains probiotics, and it may be helpful in preventing yeast infections in some people.
Could condoms be causing your itching?
Yes. Some women may be allergic to latex condoms. If you experience irritation from latex, look for condoms made of alternative materials.
If you suffer from vaginal itching or irritation for more than a week, it is best to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. It could be a minor issue such as vaginal dryness or a yeast infection, or it could be a more serious one such as an STD.
Do not try to treat the condition at home as it may get worse over time if not treated properly.