Itchy and swollen labia

Labia (pudendal lip) are a part of the vulva (external female sex organs). They are located between the lower area of the abdominal wall and the perineum and protect the clitoris, vagina and urethral orifice.

The labia majora are two folds consisting of a fatty tissue; skin, covering the outer part of the fold and containing externally secreting gland; mucous membrane which is located on the inner side.

The labia minora are two soft folds covered with a mucous membrane.

Labia disorders develop the following main symptoms:

  • itching;
  • burning;
  • pain;
  • swelling.

Usually, when the intimate zone is affected several symptoms appear simultaneously and each has its own etiology.

Causes of itchy labia

  • Poor personal and intimate hygiene: a woman does not take shower regularly, uses allergic gels and creams of a bad quality, does not change her sanitary pads often enough during her period;
  • Extreme loss of heat or excessive heat exposure;
  • Wearing synthetic underwear;
  • Chemical irritants and toxic substances;
  • Infections and disorders of internal organs;

Disorder accompanied by itchy labia

Among the causes of itchy labia are infectious diseases caused by bacteria or viruses or non-infectious disorders. The most common are the following:

  1. Vulvitis is inflammation of external genitals. Vulvitis is usually caused by infectious agents such as streptococci, staphylococci, gonococci, chlamydia, viruses, and yeasts; urethritis and cystitis; allergies to various chemical agents; uncontrolled use of antibiotics and hormonal medications; poor personal and intimate hygiene. The symptoms of vulvitis are hyperemia; itching and burning; pain which is aggravated during walking or urination; deposit on the inner part of the labia majora; sub-febrile body temperature. The treatment is chosen depending on the etiology of the disease.
  2. Thrush (vulvovaginal candidiasis) is a disease of the vagina and external genitals which is caused by a conditionally pathogenic fungus Candida. These bacteria are a natural part of the oral environment, intestine and vagina, consequently, vulvovaginal candidiasis needs special conditions for its development. For example, a long-term use of antibiotics and hormonal contraceptives, high-calorie diet, and synthetic underwear. The symptoms of thrush are copious whitish milky vaginal discharge; itchy labia; burning and discomfort. The treatment is mainly oriented towards the elimination of the factors which provoked the disease and the use of anti-fungal drugs (Livarol, Fluconazole, and Miconazole).
  3. Trichomoniasis is an infectious sexually transmitted disease. The causative agent is Trichomonas vaginalis. The symptoms of the disease are vaginal yellow foul-smelling discharge; labial hyperemia; bleeding erosions and ulcers; painful sex and urination; itching and burning. Metronidazole is used to treat this disease.
  4. Colpitis/vaginitis is an acute inflammation of the vaginal mucous membrane. This disease occurs due to different mechanical injuries of the vaginal wall, anatomical changes or anomalies, as a result of unsuccessful abortion and endocrine system dysfunction. All these factors contribute to the active propagation of bacteria which is the main cause of vaginitis.  Except vaginal itching and burning, a woman also has an itchy labia majora, purulent and bad-smelling vaginal discharge. A woman suffers pain in the lower abdomen and has copious menstrual bleeding. A complex treatment is required to cure colpitis. Usually, it includes the use of antibiotics, a therapy to boost the immune system and vaginal douching with special solutions.

Diseases causing swelling in the labia

  • Bartholinitis is an inflammatory process in the Bartholin’s gland located in the opening of the vagina. Etiologic causes: sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia infection, trichomoniasis, venereal granuloma, gonorrhea); infections and inflammations in the urogenital system (pyelonephritis, cystitis, candidiasis, vulvitis); local micro traumas; poor intimate hygiene; chronic inflammation or infection in the female body (bacteria and toxins enter the Bartholin’s gland through lymph and blood flow); kidney, uterus and urinary bladder surgery. The symptoms of bartholinitis: sharp body temperature rise to sub-febrile and febrile; asymmetry of the labia (in unilateral affection); swelling in the labia majora and its enlargement; painful movements, sitting and urination; copious purulent discharge in some cases.
  • Gardnerellosis is one of the forms of vaginal dysbiosis. The causative agent is a bacteria Gardnella vaginalis. This pathology develops swelling in the labia, pain in the inguinal fold, painful urination, itching and yellowish and green foul-smelling discharge. There are several stages of treatment. The first is aimed at removing the causative agent with the help of antibiotics (Metronidazole, Clindamycine). The second stage includes colonization of the vagina with useful bacteria (Acylact, Lactonorm).
  • This is the pathology which is very difficult to diagnose. It is characterized by pain in the orifice of the vagina and swelling in the labia. Vulva contains a lot of blood vessels and nerve endings which become pain producers if there is an inflammation process. Due to intensive pain sensations, the swelling occurs. The main symptoms of vulvodynia are chronic inflammation in the labia; burning; severe pain in the labia. To treat the disease, local anesthetics are used, procaine blocks and analgesics. In some cases, surgical treatment may be required.

Many women are afraid or embarrassed to visit a doctor, but they should be aware that itching, burning, pain and swelling in the labia may be the signs of a serious disease.

So if you noticed at least one symptom, immediately consult a doctor.

Timely diagnosis and early treatment assist quick recovery. This will help to reduce the risk of complications and chronization of the disease.