Vaginal itching and discharge - adult and adolescent
Vaginal discharge refers to secretions from the vagina. The discharge may be:
Itching of the skin of the vagina and the surrounding area (vulva) may be present along with vaginal discharge. It can also occur on its own.
Pruritus vulvae; Itching - vaginal area; Vulvar itching
Glands in the cervix and the walls of the vagina normally produce a clear mucus. This is very common among women of childbearing age.
The following factors can increase the amount of normal vaginal discharge:
Different types of infections may cause itching or an abnormal discharge in the vagina. Abnormal discharge is characterized by abnormal color (brown, green), and odor. It is associated itching or irritation.
Other causes of vaginal discharge and itching may be:
Less common causes include:
Keep your genital area clean and dry when you have vaginitis. Make sure to seek help from health care provider for the best treatment.
Avoid douching. Many women feel cleaner when they douche, but it may actually worsen symptoms because it removes healthy bacteria that line the vagina. These bacteria help protect against infection.
Other tips are:
Allow more air to reach your genital area. You can do this by:
Girls and women should also:
Always practice safe sex, and use condoms to avoid catching or spreading infections.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider right away if:
Changes that could indicate a problem such as infection include:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will take a medical history and perform a physical exam including a pelvic exam.
Tests that may be performed include:
Treatment depends on the cause of your symptoms.
Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Infections of the lower genital tract. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, et al, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 23.
Hoefgen HR, Merritt DF. Vulvovaginitis. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 549.
Schrager SB, Paladine HL, Cadwallader K. Gynecology. In: Rakel RE, Rakel D, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 25.
Review Date: 11/5/2015
Reviewed By: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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