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 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 means abnormal color (brown, green), and odor. It is associated with 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. 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:
Tests that may be performed include:
Treatment depends on the cause of your symptoms.
Gardella C, Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Genital tract infections: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 23.
Schrager SB, Paladine HL, Cadwallader K. Gynecology. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 25.
Scott GR. Sexually transmitted infections. In: Ralston SH, Penman ID, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 13.
Seller RH, Symons AB. Vaginal discharge and itching. In: Seller RH, Symons AB, eds. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 33.
Review Date: 6/30/2019
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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