Itchy Swollen Vaginal Lips with No Discharge: What It Means and How to Treat It

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Itchy Swollen Vaginal Lips with No Discharge: What Does It Mean and How to Treat It
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Suffering from itchy swollen vaginal lips with no discharge can be a frustrating condition for many women. Many times a painful, burning, or itchy feeling in the labia without discharge means that there is no infection present. Vaginal itching, swelling, and discomfort where no cervical mucus is present could be due to an allergy, dermatitis, or a cyst in the folds of the vulva.

There are, however, some vaginal infections that cause itchy bumps on the outer vagina without any noticeable discharge. For example, viral infections like genital herpes or some types of yeast infections can cause itchy swollen vaginal lips with no discharge.

Treating the symptoms of vaginal itching and swelling where there is no discharge usually requires addressing the root cause. In many cases, a cold compress can help to numb the itchy sensation and reduce swelling in your vulva. However, if your swollen vaginal area continues to cause discomfort and won’t stop itching, then you should see a doctor.

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Symptoms of Vaginal Itching with No Discharge

Vaginal lips are also called the labia, and you have 2 pairs of labia that protect your vagina from germs and infections. The labia majora are on the outer part of your vulva and are larger and fattier than the labia minora.

According to expert in gynecology Dr. Nivin Todd, itching and irritation of your vaginal lips aren’t usually anything to worry about. However, swelling and itching of the labia can be especially discomforting because the skin around the vagina is very sensitive.1

Along with swollen vaginal lips that are itchy, Dr. Todd says that you may have any of the following symptoms:

  • A bump on the vulva that causes one swollen vaginal lip
  • Burning sensation in the vagina that may be more intense when you pee
  • Vaginal burning with no discharge
  • Pain in the vaginal area
  • Unusual vaginal discharge that has a foul smell
  • Raised white patches on the vaginal lips

Very often, swollen vaginal lips with discharge is a sign of a bacterial, viral, or yeast infection. In cases of itchy labia that look larger than usual, you may need to see a doctor or use some home remedies to treat vaginal infections.

What Causes Itchy Swollen Vaginal Lips with No Discharge

This article focuses on conditions that cause itchy swollen labia without discharge. If your symptoms of vaginal discomfort include discharge, please see my article on what different types of cervical mucus can mean.

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Vulvar contact dermatitis caused by allergic reaction or irritants

An allergic reaction to feminine hygiene products, detergents, semen, condoms, or fabrics that irritate the skin around your vagina can cause mild to intense vaginal itching and swelling of the labia without discharge.

Doctors from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that irritant contact dermatitis can cause extreme itching where the irritant comes into contact with the genitals. Depending on your skin’s reaction, the pain and burning sensation may become severe and only heal when the irritant is removed.4

A study published in the Indian Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS reported that genital allergies are often a reason for soreness or irritation of the vagina without symptoms of an infection. The sensitive skin of the vulva is prone to allergic reactions and discomfort from irritants. Some symptoms of allergic reactions in the vaginal lips can include:2

  • Genital swelling
  • Burning sensation in the folds of the vulva
  • Soreness of the vagina

The journal Contraception Report reported that many women who are allergic to latex may have vaginal allergic reactions. This can cause a red itchy rash on the vagina and swelling of the labia. For some women, the itchiness can be very intense and cause a lot of discomfort. Vaginal discharge is not usually a symptom of an allergic reaction in the vagina.3

According to the journal Proceedings in Obstetrics and Gynecology, identifying irritant contact dermatitis as the reason for itchy swollen lips but no discharge can be difficult. The itchy rash and irritation can develop over time making it difficult to identify the exact cause of vaginal discomfort.5

The best way to treat the symptoms of a genital allergy is to identify the allergen and avoid contact with it. At the end of the article, you can find out how to use a cold compress to soothe vaginal lips that itch and are swollen.

Lichen sclerosus

Vaginal itching without discharge that is accompanied by white patches on the vulva can be a symptom of lichen sclerosus.

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin condition that affects the genitals. Doctors from the National Health Service say that an itchy vagina with no smell or discharge is common among menopausal women. Very often, the symptoms of burning and itchiness in the vagina are worse at night. Other symptoms can include:6

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If you have symptoms of lichen sclerosus, you should see your doctor who can recommend the best course of treatment. Treatment requires topical therapy, and when the condition is severe and does not respond to topical applications, oral medications may be prescribed.15

Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia

Severe itching and swelling around dry vaginal lips could be a symptom of a condition called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN).

This genital condition describes changes in the skin of the vulva. While it is not in itself cancerous, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that over time vaginal skin cells can become cancerous if left untreated.7

The symptoms of VIN can range from mild to severe. Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine report that VIN could be linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus, or a sexually transmitted disease. Some common symptoms of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia can include:8

  • Chronic itching of the labia
  • Swollen skin lesions or moles on the vulva
  • Burning, tingling or soreness around the vaginal area
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Doctors can recommend the best course of treatment for VIN. Some of the treatment options include topical applications or surgery to remove the affected tissue, however in some cases no treatment is required and the condition is monitored and women are kept under regular review by their specialist.16

Vulvodynia

If your vagina has no discharge but just itchy, painful, and swollen, it could be a symptom of vulvodynia which is a chronic vulvar pain with no known cause. Doctors are not sure what causes vulvodynia, but it can cause vaginal soreness that lasts for more than 3 months.

The International Journal of Women’s Health reports that vulvodynia can affect women of all ages. The symptoms of vulvodynia can be varied but a chronic burning feeling in the vagina is the most common. Some women report that the pain is felt in the whole vulva or just in one of the labia. Other symptoms of pain that vulvodynia can cause are:9

  • Burning sensation when inserting a tampon or during sexual intercourse
  • Genital discomfort that comes and goes
  • Unprovoked pain and itchiness in the vaginal lips that has no discernible cause

Vulvodynia is a difficult condition to manage. However, doctors recommend good hygiene genital practices and to use a moisturizing cream to hydrate and protect the skin. Other treatment options include pain relieving methods, medications, therapies and surgery.17

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Genital herpes

Genital herpes symptoms generally don’t cause discharge but they often cause itching or a tingling sensation in the vaginal lips. This may be accompanied by swollen skin lesions that look like blisters or small warts.

According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex-2 virus (HSV-2). The first signs of an HSV-2 infection are fever, swollen lymph nodes, and body aches. After that, you may notice that your genitals become very itchy, which may feel like a burning sensation in your vulva.10

Dr. Conrad Stöppler says that some home remedies are useful for treating symptoms of genital herpes like vaginal itching and blisters. Warm baths, keeping blisters dry, and wearing cotton underwear can help to get relief from your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe you antiviral medications that can help manage the severity and duration of outbreaks.

Yeast infection

In some cases, the first signs of yeast infection can be vaginal swelling and itching with no discharge. Of course, the typical symptoms of a yeast infection are swelling and redness around the vulva with a thick white milky discharge.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic explain that yeast infections often cause the vaginal lips to become itchy and red before any discharge appears.11

Also, Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on eMedicineHealth says that yeast infections may or may not cause vaginal discharge. However, they will usually result in irritation, itching, and swelling of the vuvla.12

There are many natural remedies for vaginal yeast infections that can help to treat your symptoms and improve the bacterial flora in your vagina. For example, apple cider vinegar has natural antifungal properties and can help to get rid of candidiasis. Coconut oil contains powerful antifungal properties which can be useful in treating yeast infections, including Candidiasis, and raw plain yogurt contains certain “good” bacteria that can be useful for treating various yeast infections.

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Bartholin’s cyst

A cyst in the folds of your vulva can cause one swollen vaginal lip that is itchy and feels warm to touch. Bartholin’s cysts can cause extreme itching at the vaginal opening but with no discharge.

A cyst on your vaginal lips is called a Bartholin’s cysts and occurs when a duct in your Bartholin gland (on either side of the vaginal opening) becomes blocked and infected.

Dr. R. Daniel Braun on eMedicineHealth says that an abscess in the Bartholin gland will cause swelling of the labia on one side. If the abscess becomes more infected, vaginal itching will become painful and swell even more. The red vaginal bump will be tender to touch. This may even make walking and sitting painful.12

The best way to get rid of the swelling and itchy vaginal lips is to use a sitz bath. Fill your bathtub with a few inches of warm water so there is enough to cover your genitals when you sit in the tub. Relax for 15 minutes, making sure the warm water gets to your vagina. Repeat 3-4 times a day to help drain the pus and get rid of swollen, itchy vaginal lips.

A Cold Compress to Relieve Itchy Swollen Vaginal Lips

To get rid of swollen vaginal lips that are itchy you usually need to address the underlying causes. It doesn’t matter what the cause of vaginal itching is, a cold compress can provide relief. Cold from the compress helps to get rid of symptoms of swollen vaginal lips that itch but don’t have discharge.

How to make a cold compress:

  1. Put crushed ice in a sealable bag or take a bag of frozen peas and wrap in a thin towel.
  2. Place on your labia for up to 15 minutes to help calm the itch and reduce vaginal swelling.
  3. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day to get symptomatic relief from itchy labia.

When to See a Doctor

Vaginal itching with no discharge is usually a temporary condition that will clear up by itself. However, if the swollen itchy labia start to interfere with your daily activities or the itching persists, you may need to see a doctor.

Some of the vaginal conditions that don’t cause discharge but do cause vaginal lips to swell and itch can be what doctors describe a “pre-cancerous” conditions. This means that conditions like lichen sclerosus or vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia aren’t signs of cancer. But, if left untreated, could increase your risk of cancer.

Also, Dr. David H. Barad from the Center for Human Reproduction says that genital itching that is associated with the following symptoms require assessment by a doctor:14

  • Mild to severe itching that is accompanied by bad-smelling vaginal odor.
  • Thin white patches on the vulva that itch.
  • Genital itching that is also accompanied by pelvic pain or abdominal cramping.
  • Any kind of unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting.

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. WebMD. Vaginal itching, burning, and irritation.
  2. Indian J Sex Transm Dis. 2016 Jan-Jun; 37(1): 1–6.
  3. Contracept Rep.1997 Mar;8(1 Suppl):1-2.
  4. ACOG. Disorders of the vulva.
  5. Proced Obst Gyn. 2014;4(2):1.
  6. NHS. Lichen sclerosus.
  7. ACOG. Management of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia.
  8. BCM. Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia.
  9. Int J Womens Health. 2014; 6: 437–449.
  10. MedicineNet. Genital herpes in women.
  11. ClevelandClinic. Vaginitis.
  12. eMedicineHealth. Vaginal infections.
  13. eMedicineHealth. Bartholin’s cyst.
  14. MSDManuals. Genital itching.
  15. DermNet NZ. Lichen sclerosus.
  16. Patient.info. Vulval Intraepithelial Neoplasia.
  17. WebMD. Vulvodynia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.
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