Vaginal Burning: All You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by | By

Update Date 31/08/2020 . 6 mins read
Share now

Signs and Symptoms

Vaginal burning is a condition characterized by irritation and itching. It is caused by an inflammation or infection of the vagina, genitals, and urinary tract. Vaginal burning is very common. Women are likely to experience itching and burning in the genital area at some point in their lives, often more than once. 

vaginal burning

In general, vaginal burning is easily treated. However, it can also be an indicator of a more serious condition. The level of discomfort varies depending on the underlying cause. Some women may notice no discharge but burning sensation only. Others only experience it during certain activities like sex or urination. 

What are the symptoms of vaginal burning? 

The symptoms of vaginal burning depend on its cause. Some women notice no discharge but burning sensation only. Meanwhile, there are cases when the burning sensation is accompanied by extreme pain and bleeding. The most common symptoms of vaginal burning are irritation and severe itching in the genital area. 

Vaginal burning can also cause other symptoms that are more uncommon. These include: 

  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Fatigue and headaches
  • Rashes around the genital area
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting in between periods
  • Fever due to an infection
  • Abdominal and back pain

These symptoms may appear at random or grow in intensity over time. Sometimes, vaginal burning can develop or lead to a more serious condition.

How to Improve Vaginal Odor and Discharge

When should I see a doctor? 

In most cases, vaginal burning will often get better on its own. Antibiotics and over-the-counter creams can bring pain relief. However, if the burning sensation becomes unbearable and recurs even after treatment, check in with your doctor.

While you might notice no discharge but burning sensation, this can still escalate into a serious health risk. Your doctor will be able to prescribe the exact medications once diagnosed. 

Causes and Risk Factors

What causes vaginal burning? 

Vaginal burning can have multiple causes. It ranges from mild complications to serious conditions and diseases. This burning sensation can affect the vagina, genitals, and urinary tract. Read on to know the possible causes of vaginal burning, along with the corresponding treatment. 

Burning caused by irritants

There are factors that can irritate the vagina and vulva during direct contact. This is referred to as contact dermatitis. You may notice no discharge but burning sensation, along with severe itching and swelling of the genitals. Irritants can be found in the most basic everyday products, including: 

  • Laundry detergents
  • Soap
  • Perfumes and other scented products
  • Fabric softeners

Apart from these, there are also items you put inside your vagina that can cause vaginal burning. These include:

  • Tampons
  • Condoms
  • Vaginal wipes and sprays

Wearing ill-fitted undergarments and other tight clothing can also cause vaginal burning. Douching, especially the scented ones, may also cause vaginal irritation. 

What increases my risk for vaginal burning? 

There are many risk factors for vaginal burning, including:

  • Using scented products that are likely to contain irritants
  • Poor vaginal care and hygiene
  • Menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
  • Douching
  • Condoms and lubricants

vaginal burning

Note to frequent gym-goers and athletes: People who often wear tight clothes subject their genitals to heat, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure to change out of sweaty or wet clothes after.

How is vaginal burning diagnosed? 

Your doctor can easily diagnose vaginal burning just on the symptoms alone. While some women might notice no discharge but burning sensation as the only symptom, that does not mean it is not serious. As a result, there are other tests used to rule out infections and STIs. These include

  • Physical exam. This is to check for injuries, swelling, and other visible changes on the vagina’s surrounding areas.
  • Internal vaginal exam. This is to further evaluate the vagina for scarring, damages, and muscle abnormalities.
  • Discharge analysis. A sample of vaginal discharge is collected for evaluation. 
  • Medical history. It is important to disclose your full medical history, including sexual habits and relationships to determine the cause of vaginal burning. Factors such as surgical complications, birth defects, and present medications can contribute to the burning sensation. 


Treatment of vaginal burning caused by irritants

The easiest way to avoid vaginal burning is to avoid the irritant altogether. As much as possible, wash your genitals with water and plain soap. Ask your OB-GYN what products are safe for your current skin condition. Avoid using scented products as these are likely to cause irritation. 

In addition, be sure to take a bath after swimming or using the sauna or hot tubs. This will help get rid of the bacteria that may come in contact with the vulva. Even if there is no discharge but burning sensation only, it is important to observe proper hygiene.

Burning caused by infections

If the itch and burning sensation is inside the vagina, it is most likely due to an infection. The most common causes of infection are: 

Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

According to a report, there is a 29.2% prevalence of BV among women ages 14 to 49. Bacterial vaginosis results from the build-up of bad bacteria in the vagina. It affects the normal balance of your vaginal pH

Yeast infection

This is also referred to as vaginal candidiasis. Yeast infection is due to an overgrowth of candida albicans, a type of fungus. It is a common condition affecting 75% of women at least once in their lives. Yeast infection affects the vagina environment. 

Vaginal Yeast Infection: All You Need To Know

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infection (UTI). Vaginal burning is also associated with UTI. This is because of the discomfort and burning sensation you experience when urinating. UTI occurs when bacteria gets into the different parts of the urinary tract, including the bladder, urethra, and kidneys. 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

These include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and genital herpes. In most cases, symptoms are not usually visible until getting diagnosed. However, vaginal burning is prevalent, along with discomfort in urination and unusual spotting. 

Treatment of vaginal burning caused by infection

These conditions may be life-threatening. It is important to check in with a doctor if you are sexually active or if you start to show symptoms. Most of these are treated with a course of antibiotics.

Trichomoniasis and gonorrhea require the intake of multiple antiviral pills at the same time. Moreover, yeast infections can also be treated with antifungal medicine in the form of creams and gels.

Vaginal burning caused by hormonal changes

While these changes do not directly affect the vagina, they can cause dryness. Dry patches are extremely itchy, and thus can cause a burning sensation. Some women may show no discharge but burning sensation only.

Hormonal changes can be triggered by birth control pills, pregnancy, or menopause.

For example, estrogen production decreases when a woman enters menopause. Vaginal burning is one of its main indicators, especially during intercourse. 

Treatment of vaginal burning caused by hormonal changes

Your doctor may likely prescribe hormonal supplements in the form of creams, tablets, or vaginal inserts. Some women may have to undergo hormone therapy to relieve symptoms.

Vaginal burning caused by skin conditions

This applies to the vulva, or the external skin surrounding the vagina. Symptoms are usually related to the underlying cause such as dry patches, scarring, and rashes. Some women would notice no discharge but burning sensation only. Vaginal burning can be caused by the following: 

Eczema and psoriasis

These are thick patches of skin that are inflamed, red, or peeling. Since these are extremely itchy, burning will occur due to frequent scratching. Eczema and psoriasis can not directly affect the skin inside the vagina, but can spread around the vulva.

Lichen sclerosus

This condition is characterized by thin, white patches that form on the skin, especially around the vulva. These can cause scarring around the genital area due to the constant scratching. Women would also often experience pain and discomfort during urination and sex.

Treatment of vaginal burning caused by skin conditions

Eczema and psoriasis are recurring, so it is best to consult your doctor. These are likely to be treated with prescription oral medications or over-the-counter creams. Lichen sclerosus, on the other hand, can be managed by steroid medicines to reduce inflammation and irritation. 

Lifestyle changes and home remedies

In general, vaginal burning can be easily treated. Whatever the underlying cause may be, the key is to keep the vagina clean and healthy.

How to Minimize Vaginal Burning

Here are some ways on how to minimize your risks, as well as some  home remedies for vulvar itching and burning. 

  • Avoid feminine sprays, scented toilet papers, and certain detergents and soaps.
  • Do not douche.
  • Wash your genitals thoroughly with water and plain soap.
  • Always wipe front to back after urinating and bowel movements.
  • Avoid wearing ill-fitting clothes and opt for garments made from loose, breathable fabrics, like cotton.
  • Change out of clothes after exercise or swimming.
  • Include probiotic food in your diet, which can promote growth of healthy bacteria. Try Greek yoghurt, miso, kefir, kombucha, pickles and sauerkraut. 
  • Apply petroleum jelly or ice packs to relieve burning sensations. 
  • Cortisone creams can help relieve severe itchiness and burning sensations.

If you have any concerns, consult your doctor. 

Key Takeaways

Vaginal burning is not normal, but very common. In most cases, it is usually harmless and easily treated.

However, it can also be an indicator of a more serious condition. Some women may notice no discharge but burning sensation only, but symptoms may vary from woman to woman.

It is advised to consult your doctor for any concerns.

Learn more about women’s health issues, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Read also:

Was this article helpful for you ?
happy unhappy"

You might also like


UsesWhat is Monistat® (miconazole nitrate) used for? Monistat® is commonly used to treat vaginal yeast infections. Miconazole ointment reduces vaginal burning, itching, and discharge that may occur with this condition ...

Written by Stephanie Nicole G. Nera
Drugs 30/07/2020 . 6 mins read

8 Facts About Menopause Women Must Know

Menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. Why does menstrual cycle stop at menopause? Here are 8 facts about menopause.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Menopause 27/07/2020 . 4 mins read

How to Treat Bacterial Vaginosis Naturally

BV often needs antibiotic treatment, but there are available home remedies. In this article, we'll talk about how to treat bacterial vaginosis naturally.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Bacterial Vaginosis 27/07/2020 . 4 mins read

Vulvar Swelling: Identifying Causes and Treatment

Vulvar swelling and bruising can be uncomfortable, but it rarely means something serious. Read on to find out what may cause it and available treatments.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Honey B
Women's Health Issues 22/07/2020 . 7 mins read

Recommended for you

how can i get rid of fishy odor

How Can I Get Rid of Fishy Odor?: Vaginal Smell

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Published on 17/09/2020 . 4 mins read
right way to clean the vagina

What’s the Right Way to Clean the Vagina?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza
Published on 14/09/2020 . 4 mins read
what are the first signs of endometriosis

All You Need to Know About Endometriosis

Medically reviewed by Dr. Mary Rani Cadiz M.D.
Written by Louise Nichole Logarta
Published on 25/08/2020 . 5 mins read
what is the normal position of the uterus

Understanding Uterine Positions

Medically reviewed by Dr. Mary Rani Cadiz M.D.
Written by Louise Nichole Logarta
Published on 25/08/2020 . 4 mins read