1. Your cycle
  2. Health
  3. Symptoms and diseases

Flo Fact-Checking Standards

Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

Vulvovaginitis: How to Treat Vulvovaginitis at Home

You can sometimes treat serious health issues like vulvovaginitis yourself. If you’re wondering how to treat vulvovaginitis at home, keep reading. We’ve outlined what it is, what causes it, and how to care for it. We’ve also listed some warning signs that may indicate you need to see your doctor. 

Vulvovaginitis is a general term that covers a multitude of disorders in the vaginal area. Vaginitis and vulvovaginitis are both terms that describe the same thing: an infection or irritation of the vagina and vulva. 

Vulvovaginitis is when your vaginal tissues are swollen, tender, and painful because of infection, inflammation, or an imbalance of vaginal flora. Many different things can cause this condition, but the symptoms are typically the same. 

It’s important to know how your vagina functions on a day-to-day basis. When you’re familiar with how your body works normally, you can more easily tell when something has changed.

Over 90 percent of vulvovaginitis is caused by an infection. There are five main infections related to this condition:

  • Chronic vulvovaginal candidiasis 
  • Acute vulvovaginal candidiasis 
  • Atrophic vaginitis 
  • Vulvar vestibulitis 
  • Contact dermatitis 

There are many symptoms that can indicate you have this condition. Every vagina is unique, so pay attention if yours suddenly changes. Keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Changes in vaginal discharge — Your vagina has normal amounts of discharge that vary slightly during the different phases of your menstrual cycle. If you suddenly notice a change in volume, color, or odor that’s not part of your normal cycle, it may be a symptom of this condition. However, if your unusual discharge is not accompanied by other symptoms, then it may not be related to this condition.
  • Pruritus — Pruritus is the medical term for itchy skin. This can include the vulva, labia, and tissues near the opening of your vagina. 
  • Burning — A burning sensation may be external, in your vulva region, or internal, in the vaginal canal. This symptom indicates irritated vaginal tissues.
  • Irritation — If you’re feeling an irritating sensation that may be a mix of itching, burning, and pain anywhere in the vaginal area, take note. It can indicate that your vaginal tissues are inflamed or infected. 
  • Dyspareunia — Dyspareunia is the medical term for painful intercourse. It may feel like a painful sensation, itching, or burning during sex.
  • Spotting — Sometimes vulvovaginitis can cause spotting, especially if the infected tissue is in the vaginal canal or near the cervical area. 
  • Erythema — Erythema is patchy red skin. This is caused by local blood capillaries becoming dilated because of an injury or infection. If you have other symptoms, check to see if your vulva has red patches.
  • Dysuria — Dysuria is painful urination. If the vaginal tissues near your urethra are inflamed or infected, they can make it painful to urinate.

If you’re experiencing a few or more of these symptoms, keep track of them in a journal and talk to your health care specialist. If your symptoms don’t get better or get worse, your doctor can use the journal to get a better understanding of your condition.

There are five main causes of vulvovaginitis:

  • Bacterial vaginosis — The colonies of bacteria that belong in the vaginal area can grow out of balance due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or introduction of other microbes. This can be caused by having multiple sex partners or developing an STI.
  • Yeast infections — An overgrowth of yeast can cause a yeast infection in the vaginal area. These infections are commonly called candidal vulvovaginitis.
  • Trichomoniasis — This is an STI that is a common cause of vulvovaginitis. It’s spread by sexual intercourse with an infected partner. 
  • Noninfectious vaginitis — You can develop this condition if you use douches, tampons, or sexual products with harsh chemicals that irritate and inflame your vaginal tissues. Some women experience cyclic vulvovaginitis, which occurs at the same time in their monthly menstrual cycles. 
  • Vaginal atrophy — This can occur during menopause when estrogen levels become low. 

If you’ve checked your symptoms with a doctor and are ready to begin your vulvovaginitis treatment, then follow these procedures. What you do depends on the type of condition you have: 

  • Trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and vaginal atrophy — Use prescription medication according to your doctor’s guidelines. Follow the instructions at home and use the medication until you’ve finished your round. Follow up with your doctor to see if the condition has improved.
  • Yeast infection — You can use over-the-counter medication from your local pharmacy. Follow the directions on the packaging, and be sure to keep your tools and hands clean. You can also use a cold compress to help relieve some of the symptoms. 
  • Noninfectious vaginitis — Stop using any products that are causing irritation. Try switching to a hypoallergenic lube, and use period products designed for sensitive skin.

Prevention is always important, especially after you’ve treated yourself and your condition clears up. To avoid developing vulvovaginitis again, follow these tips:

  • Avoid baths and hot tubs. The extreme heat and prolonged periods of moisture can encourage an infection to return. 
  • Avoid irritants like harsh douches and nonsensitive period products.
  • Wipe properly after using the toilet. Start in the front and wipe towards the back. This prevents fecal bacteria from getting too close to the vaginal opening.

Sometimes your condition is more complicated than you can handle on your own. 

If you feel nervous or need a second opinion, your doctor can help. If you’re treating your condition at home but experiencing complications, then call your doctor. Be sure to contact your doctor right away if you experience any of these signs:

  • You’re experiencing severe irritation such as itching, burning, or a strong vaginal odor.
  • This is your first vaginal infection. Your doctor can help you learn the signs and symptoms.
  • You have recurrent vaginal infections. Repeated infections can be a sign of a bigger issue.
  • You have multiple new sex partners. Make sure your symptoms aren’t related to an STI.
  • Your symptoms persist after a round of over-the-counter treatment.
  • You have a fever, chills, or pelvic pain accompanying other symptoms.

Talk to your doctor if you suspect vulvovaginitis in children. Children may not know how to tell you exactly what they’re feeling, so if you have concerns, share them with your doctor.

Your doctor wants you to be in control of your body. They will provide you with the necessary tools to treat yourself and support treatment  at home.

Be honest with yourself when considering treating vulvovaginitis. Some symptoms are more severe than others. Your doctor is there to help you care for yourself, so contact them if your symptoms are extreme, your symptoms worsen, or you feel unsure. With proper awareness and proper treatment, you can clear up your condition and get back to feeling like yourself again.

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-women-with-symptoms-of-vaginitis#PATIENT_INFORMATION

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2188931-overview

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-women-with-symptoms-of-vaginitis

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354707

Read this next