What Causes Vaginal Discharge and Itching? (with pictures)

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Scented feminine products can disrupt the natural balance of the vagina.
Scented feminine products can disrupt the natural balance of the vagina.

A range of infections can cause vaginal discharge and itching. Vaginal infections are commonly referred to as vaginitis, and they can be caused by certain types of bacteria and fungus or by a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as chlamydia or genital herpes. Treatment depends on the cause of the symptoms, but many cases can be cleared up with antibiotics or anti-fungal medicines.

A yeast infection can cause itching and vaginal discomfort.
A yeast infection can cause itching and vaginal discomfort.

A yeast infection is perhaps the most common cause of itching and vaginal discharge. This type of infection is caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast. The vaginal discharge is typically thick and clumpy, and the itching is usually internal and external. Most infections clear up with anti-fungal, over-the-counter treatments, such as a suppository and anti-itch cream. A single-dose pill can also clear up a yeast infection.

Yeast infections are a common cause of vaginal itching and discharge.
Yeast infections are a common cause of vaginal itching and discharge.

Bacterial vaginosis can also cause vaginal discharge and itching. The discharge from a bacterial infection is different from that caused by a yeast infection; it often has a thin consistency, a gray-white color, and an unpleasant, fishy odor. Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotics such as metronidazole or clindamycin.

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause these symptoms. It's cause by a protozoa. The discharge tends to be green-yellow in color and has a very unpleasant smell. There is usually a heavy amount of discharge as well as itching and burning due to the infection. Common treatments include single-dose pills of tinidazole or metronidazole, and the infection usually clears up within a week of treatment.

An STD could cause vaginal discharge and itching.
An STD could cause vaginal discharge and itching.

Vaginal discharge can also be caused other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea or chalmydia, and antibiotics will usually clear up those STDs. Certain types of cancer, such as cervical or vaginal cancers, can produce a bloody discharge. Itching of the vaginal area can also be caused by outside irritants or changes in hormone levels, such as during menopause. In rare cases, the itching can be caused by pre-cancerous lesions on the vulva or by a pinworm infestation.

Caused by a parasite, trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can result in vaginal discharge.
Caused by a parasite, trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can result in vaginal discharge.

Certain precautions can be taken to prevent abnormal vaginal discharge and itching. A woman should limit her exposure to irritating chemicals by avoiding perfumed feminine products and toilet paper, as well as douches. The vaginal area should be kept clean and dry so that yeast or bacteria are less likely to grow and spread. Some women also find that eating foods with probiotics, such as yogurt, helps to keep vaginitis at bay.

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Discussion Comments

discographer

I don't know about discharge, but I know that itching can be because of irritation and allergies.

I used to have vaginal itching but no discharge. I went to the doctor and all tests came back negative. I went to a second doctor and the results were the same.

Finally, my friend mentioned that I might be allergic to the fabric of my underwear or the perfume in my laundry detergent. After that, I bought new underwear made of one hundred percent cotton, I switched to hypoallergenic laundry detergent and stopped wearing pantyliners with perfume. My itching disappeared! So it was definitely allergies!

ddljohn

@donasmrs-- As far as I know, there isn't just one type of candida yeast. There are at least several different kinds. You might not have Candida albicans but a different kind.

I think thick, as well as watery discharge is possible with a yeast infection depending on the type of fungi present. Itching is also a major symptom of this type of infection.

The best way to know is to see your doctor and have a swab test done. This way, you can get the correct medication.

donasmrs

What might be the cause of watery, white vaginal discharge and itching?

I thought it might be a yeast infection but the article says that the discharge would be thick in that case.

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    • Scented feminine products can disrupt the natural balance of the vagina.
      Scented feminine products can disrupt the natural balance of the vagina.
    • A yeast infection can cause itching and vaginal discomfort.
      A yeast infection can cause itching and vaginal discomfort.
    • Yeast infections are a common cause of vaginal itching and discharge.
      Yeast infections are a common cause of vaginal itching and discharge.
    • An STD could cause vaginal discharge and itching.
      An STD could cause vaginal discharge and itching.
    • Caused by a parasite, trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can result in vaginal discharge.
      Caused by a parasite, trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can result in vaginal discharge.
    • An allergic reaction to a latex condom might cause vaginal discharge and itching.
      An allergic reaction to a latex condom might cause vaginal discharge and itching.
    • Bacterial vaginosis, which is the most common type of vaginal disease, can cause vaginal discharge and itching.
      Bacterial vaginosis, which is the most common type of vaginal disease, can cause vaginal discharge and itching.
    • Using scented toilet paper may cause internal itching in the vagina.
      Using scented toilet paper may cause internal itching in the vagina.
    • Many cases of abnormal vaginal discharge and itching are caused by vaginitis and can be treated with prescription medication.
      Many cases of abnormal vaginal discharge and itching are caused by vaginitis and can be treated with prescription medication.