Read below about female urethral itchiness, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your female urethral itchiness from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Female Urethral Itchiness Symptoms

An itch is an uncomfortable sensation on the skin that causes the urge to scratch. While itching in this area of the body may be embarrassing or concerning, it is important not to ignore it and to take proper measures to determine the cause.

This sensation in the lower urethra can be associated with many conditions and symptoms including [1,2]:

Scratching is also an important symptom of urethral itchiness. Though scratching can be helpful in relieving itchiness, it only offers temporary relief. Scratching can also result in breaks in the skin that can lead to bleeding or infection, further exacerbating the issue.

It is important to follow up with your healthcare provider if you experience any of the above symptoms. Prompt treatment can go a long way in providing relief and resolution of your symptoms.

Female Urethral Itchiness Causes

Itching, also known as pruritus, is the result of inflammation [3]. Inflammation that results in urethral itching is commonly the result of rashes caused by infections, dermatologic skin conditions or environmental exposures that affect components of the urinary tract.

The female urinary tract is composed of the following parts:

  • Kidneys These two organs filter toxins and waste products that will be expelled in the urine.
  • Ureters These long tubes carry urine from the kidney to the bladder.
  • Bladder This is the organ in which urine is stored.
  • Urethra This is the opening where urine is expelled from the body.

See this image for a visual representation.

The female urinary tract is particularly susceptible to urethral itching due to its anatomy. The urethra sits very close to the anus and its opening is in very close contact to the vagina. Any pathogens that infect the anus or genital area can easily move through the components of the urinary tract including the urethra and bladder.

Though many of these rashes are caused by sexually transmitted infections, there are also many conditions that are not sexually transmitted. These conditions can be grouped into the following categories:

Infectious

Infectious causes of female urethral itchiness include the following [2,4].

  • Bacterial Bacteria within the GI tract can infect the bladder causing an infection that can result in urethral itchiness. Furthermore, many types of outside bacteria can enter the body easily via the urinary tract, including sexually transmitted bacteria such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. These bacteria can grow and multiply in the bladder causing many symptoms associated with urethral itchiness. Bacteria from the anus can directly infect the urethra as well also resulting in similar symptoms.
  • Viral Sexually transmitted viral infections such as herpes can cause female urethral itchiness as well as many associated symptoms such as blistering and painful bumps. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is another common viral infection that results in itchy genital warts.
  • Fungal Many fungal infections affect the skin and can cause rashes that result in intense itching and discomfort. Candida fungi are very common on the skin and can overgrow in the genital area causing itching in addition to genital discharge.

Dermatologic

Dermatologic causes involve any condition involving the skin, nails, and hair. Many non-sexually transmitted bacteria and fungi can result in inflammatory conditions that can lead to itching of the genital area and urethra. Furthermore, imbalances in the body's immune functions can also result in dermatologic conditions that may result in serious itching.

Environmental

Environmental causes are related to certain exposures or lifestyle habits.

  • Contact allergies Scented soaps, lotions, toiletries, and other body products can irritate the genital tissue and cause itchy, dry skin. It is important to take note of how your body reacts to certain products and limit use in order to control your symptoms.
  • Irritation Keep in mind that not all causes of female urethral itchiness are medically related. Environmental exposures such as sweat, poor hygiene, and even uncomfortable underwear can irritate the genital area and cause symptoms.

7 Possible Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced female urethral itchiness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

  1. 1.Yeast Infection

    Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called "Candida." Candida is the scientific name for yeast that lives almost everywhere, including in the human body. Typically, our immune system keeps it under control, but if you take antibiotics or gets sick, the fungus can multiply and cause an infection. In this case, it is happening in the vagina.

    50% of women have relapses within 2 months, and 9% have more than 4 episodes per year. For those, maintenance therapy is possible.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal itch or burning, white/gray vaginal discharge, thick vaginal discharge, vaginal pain, vulvovaginal redness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Irritant Contact Dermatitis of the Vagina

    Contact irritant dermatitis of the vagina occurs when there is an irritant of some sort that causes damage to the skin. The irritation is often caused by friction or chemicals.

    Will resolve when irritant is removed.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal itch or burning, vulvovaginal redness, vaginal discharge, urinary changes
    Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis of the vagina:
    vaginal itch or burning
    Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis of the vagina:
    urinary changes, vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Atrophic Vaginitis

    Atrophic vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina and surrounding structures. It is caused by decreased levels of estrogen which causes the endometrial and vaginal lining to thin and vaginal pH to increase, causing symptoms like dryness, burning, and itching.

    Treatment will effectively manage symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal itch or burning, signs of urinary tract inflammation
    Symptoms that always occur with atrophic vaginitis:
    delay in or irregular periods
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Female Urethral Itchiness Symptom Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having female urethral itchiness.

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  4. 4.Symptoms of Menopause

    Menopause is the point in life where your period stops. This happens when the ovaries stop making hormones that keep your cycle going. The transition into menopause is called peri-menopause and can include symptoms like hot flashes, shortening of menstrual cycle and mood fluctuations.

    Hot flashes typically peak approximately 1 year after the final period and last 4-10 years. Most women stop having hot flashes 4 years after they start, but 10% of women may have hot flashes up to 12 years after their last period.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal discharge, anxiety, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with symptoms of menopause:
    delay in or irregular periods
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  5. 5.Bacterial Vaginosis

    Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection caused when too much of certain bacteria change the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. BV is not a sexually transmitted infection and is not caused by poor hygiene (in fact, excessive washing of the vagina may increase the risk). Its symptoms are usually mild, consisting primarily of a white-gray vaginal discharge that has a fishy smell.

    5-7 days antibiotic treatment. May resolve on its own.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal itch or burning, vulvovaginal odor, bloody vaginal discharge, white/gray vaginal discharge, thick vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Lichen Sclerosus

    Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory disease of unknown cause. It's most commonly on the genital region and occurring in women who are post menopausal.

    Can be lifelong; however, symptoms will come-and-go with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal itch or burning, vaginal pain, painful sex, dry skin on the outside of the vagina, painful urination
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Vaginal Trichomonas Infection

    Trichomonas vaginalis infection (or "Trichomoniasis" or "trich") is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite of the same name. It affects over 3 million people per year, but only about 30% have any symptoms.

    Treatment leads to a 100% cure rate in 7-14 days

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vulvovaginal odor, vaginal itch or burning, vaginal bleeding, white/gray vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that always occur with vaginal trichomonas infection:
    vaginal discharge
    Symptoms that never occur with vaginal trichomonas infection:
    vaginal ulcer
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Female Urethral Itchiness Treatments, Relief and Prevention

If you are experiencing female urethral itchiness, make an appointment with your physician. Most causes of female urethral itchiness are easily treatable and often not life-threatening.

Based on your symptoms your physician may:

  • Test your urine: This is to see if you have an infection.
  • Swab the vaginal area: This is to collect skin cells and determine if bacteria, yeast or other organisms are causing inflammation.

Medical treatment

Depending on the findings, your physician may prescribe the following:

  • Antibiotic s:** It is important to take the antibiotics as instructed, because skipping doses may make the treatment less effective and put you at risk for developing other infections.
  • Topical steroid crea m:** If your itching is due to a dermatologic condition, your physician may prescribe a topical steroid cream to reduce the inflammation and skin changes.
  • Antifungal medication or crea m:** Similar to antibiotics that treat bacteria, there are medications that you can take to treat fungal causes of your symptoms.

Lifestyle Modifications

If you are looking to prevent these symptoms, there are many things you can do at home and easily change in your routine to help prevent urethral itchiness:

  • Soaps: Limit the use of any scented bath and body products to reduce the risk of irritation.
  • Safe sex: Use lubrication and condoms during sexual activity to protect yourself from irritation and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Clothing: Wear breathable clothing around the genital area such as cotton or bamboo. Maintain proper hygiene keep your genital area clean.
  • Wear clean, dry clothes after activities: Do not keep wet clothes such as swimsuits or workout attire on for long periods of time.

Make another appointment with your doctor or go straight to the hospital

If you experience fever, chills, and/or abdominal pain along with your urethral itching. These symptoms could signal an infection of the vagina or other parts of your reproductive system that is worsening and causing systemic problems.

FAQs About Female Urethral Itchiness

Here are some frequently asked questions about female urethral itchiness.

Will the itching spread?

The itching may spread to include other parts of the genital area such as the vagina or labia.

What are some complications of female urethral itchiness?

Complications of female urethral itchiness are largely dependent on the cause. For example, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a very common cause of this symptom and complications may include situations such as permanent kidney damage or sepsis, which is a life-threatening complication of infection characterized by symptoms such as fever and low blood pressure (hypotension).

When will my symptoms of urethral itchiness resolve?

Your symptoms of urethral itchiness usually resolve with treatment, especially if they are due to a bacterial or fungal cause. Nevertheless, some women may experience causes of urethral itchiness that continue to recur despite adequate treatment. In these cases, the symptoms may become chronic. It is important to talk with your healthcare professional about both preventive and curative treatments for your symptoms in order to keep recurrence at bay.

Is the itchiness contagious?

The itching itself is not contagious but the underlying cause for the symptom may be contagious. For example, if your symptoms are due to a sexually transmitted bacteria or virus, you may spread the pathogen by contact with sexual intercourse. Causes of urethral itchiness that involve environmental allergens and causes are less likely to be contagious.

Is female urethral itchiness serious?

Female urethral itchiness, though common, can signal an underlying condition that requires prompt medical attention. Furthermore, if your symptoms are left untreated you may be at risk for developing serious complications such as permanent kidney damage, sepsis and even risk of delivering prematurely.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Female Urethral Itchiness

  • Q.Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Q.Have you ever had a yeast infection?
  • Q.When was your last menstrual period?
  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our female urethral itchiness symptom checker to find out more.

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Female Urethral Itchiness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced female urethral itchiness have also experienced:

    • 30% Vaginal Itch or Burning
    • 16% Vaginal Discharge
    • 9% Yellow Pus Vaginal Discharge
  • People who have experienced female urethral itchiness had symptoms persist for:

    • 41% Less Than a Week
    • 20% Less Than a Day
    • 18% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced female urethral itchiness were most often matched with:

    • 60% Atrophic Vaginitis
    • 20% Yeast Infection
    • 20% Irritant Contact Dermatitis of the Vagina
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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References

  1. Wrenn K. Dysuria, Frequency, and Urgency. Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW. In: Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Butterworths; 1990. NCBI Link
  2. Mody L, Juthani-Mehta M. Urinary Tract Infections in Older Women. JAMA. 2014;311(8):844-854. NCBI Link
  3. Lambert J. Pruritus in Female Patients. BioMed Research International. 2014;2014:541867. NCBI Link
  4. Urinary Tract Infection - Female. Seattle Children's Hospital. Updated March 31, 2018. Seattle Children's Hospital Link
  5. Vaginal Symptoms. Seattle Children's Hospital. Updated March 31, 2018. Seattle Children's Hospital Link
  6. Disorders of the Vulva: Common Causes of Vulvar Pain, Burning, and Itching. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published September 2015. ACOG Link