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Vaginal Itching and Discharge: When Do They Occur and What Causes Them?

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Feminine vaginal itching is often an embarrassing and particularly distressing symptom that doesn’t go away by simply practicing good hygiene. While most of the time vaginal itching comes with discharge, there are many conditions, including fungal infections and skin conditions, that might result in vaginal itching without discharge. Due to the discomfort it causes, vaginal and vulval itching can interfere with your day-to-day routine, lower the quality of your life and cause distress.

What can cause vaginal itching without discharge? Read on to find out.

Vaginal Discharge and Itching

If the itching is accompanied by discharge, then the most likely cause is vaginal infection or vaginitis. Depending on the type of infection you have, the symptoms may vary from excessive discharge with odor to vaginal or vulval swelling, redness, burning uring urination, painful intercourse and lower abdominal pain.
Outlined below are the most common causes of cottage cheese discharge with itching.

1. Yeast Infection

Caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans, yeast infection is commonly characterized by clumpy discharge that has a foul smelling, fishy odor. Most of the time, the vagina produces excessive discharge that’s accompanied by vaginal and vulval swelling, redness, painful urination, discomfort during sex, and cramping in the lower abdomen. The itching discharge has a thick, chunky consistency that resembles cottage cheese, and usually feels similar to lotion when rubbed between fingers.

2. Bacterial Vaginosis

Similar to yeast infection but much milder, bacterial vaginosis is a condition that occurs when the balance between good and bad bacteria in the vagina’s bacterial flora is disrupted. The result is thick discharge with bad odor, which may sometimes be accompanied by mild itching. Unlike yeast infection, women suffering from bacterial vaginosis do not experience other symptoms such as swelling, redness or vaginal discomfort. Due to being very mild, bacterial vaginosis usually goes away on its own in a few days.

3. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that causes clumpy discharge that may be anywhere from cloudy white to dark yellow, as well as vaginal itching, swelling, redness, discomfort and spotting between periods. A bad odor coming from the vagina may be noticed. Many women do not experience any symptoms of gonorrhea despite the infection being active, which can lead to delayed diagnostic and treatment.

4. Trichomoniasis

Also contracted during unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner, trichomoniasis is an STD that causes green discharge with a frothy, chunky consistency, strong fishy odor, and vaginal discomfort. Spotting between periods may occasionally occur. Women infected with trichomoniasis may also experience missed or late periods. Identification is usually very simple since trichomoniasis is the most common cause of greenish mucus.

5. Chlamydia

Similar to gonorrhea, Chlamydia is characterized through excessive discharge that can be clear and watery or clumpy and yellowish. Vaginal itching, swelling and burning are also present. Due to causing vaginal spotting, many women report pink discharge that may sometimes be blood-streaked. Chlamydia is usually asymptomatic, as very few women report symptoms (if any).

Causes of Vaginal Itching Without Discharge

There are several potential causes that can make your vagina itchy and uncomfortable. The itching oftentimes accompanies clumpy discharge with bad odor, but some cases of vaginitis or vaginal inflammation don’t also involve abnormal discharge.

1. Contact Dermatitis or Allergic Reaction

One of the most common causes of vaginal itching no discharge is contact dermatitis or allergic reaction resulted from contact with a substance contained in soaps, deodorants, perfumes and other feminine hygiene products. This results in a localized rash or irritation with intense feelings of itching. When the use of the substance is discontinued, the rash and itching disappear. Prolonged or repeated contact with the substance may worsen the itching, causing the appearance of blisters around the vaginal opening.

2. Fungal Infections

Another possible cause of vaginal itching without discharge is a fungal infection known as jock itch, which is caused by a form of ringworm around the vagina. Jock itch causes a rash with areas that may become red, bumpy, peeling and blister-like. Unlike yeast infection, which causes cottage cheese discharge and itching, jock itch doesn’t impact the characteristics or amount of your normal cervical mucus (CM).

3. Parasitic Infections

Parasites such as lice may infect the hairy part of the vulva just as they may infect the scalp, causing intense itching but no discharge. Threadworms from the anus may also migrate to the vaginal area and cause itching, which is more intense during night time. Lice eggs are commonly big enough to be observed by the naked eye while threadworms can be seen only through microscopic examination and laboratory analysis.

4. Generalized Skin Conditions

Several skin conditions are known for causing vaginal itchiness along with other symptoms around the vulval area. Psoriasis, for example, causes dead skin cells to accumulate on the skin surface, leading to red patches of skin covered by white flaky scales. This particular condition can affect different parts of the body including the vulva and/or vagina.

5. Dandruff or Seborrheic Dermatitis

If you have dandruff in the vaginal area, you will likely experience itching along with redness. The skin usually appears greasy-looking and has yellowish, flaky skin that may cause burning during urination and painful intercourse.

6. Scabies

Scabies is a condition that’s caused when mites burrow under the skin. This usually results in vaginal itching that intensifies at night, sometimes interfering with your normal sleep schedule. Moreover, a rash with tiny blisters may also develop in the vaginal area.

7. Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is an uncommon skin condition that can occur anywhere on the body, but most frequently in the genital and anal areas. The exact cause leading to lichen sclerosus is currently unknown, but it may be related to the lack of sex hormones that are characteristic to postmenopausal women, or an overactive immune system. Previous skin damage in the vaginal area may also increase the risk of acquiring lichen sclerorus of the genitals.

8. Vaginal Dystrophy

A condition known as vaginal dystrophy usually results from deficiencies in vitamins A, B2, B12, iron and folic acid. This causes vaginal itching with white patches or plaques, which appear due to changes in skin.

If you experience any unusual symptoms such as abnormal discharge or itching, make sure to seek medical assistance immediately for examination.