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Why does Monistat burn/itch so bad?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on May 27, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

Monistat is the brand name for the drug miconazole, which is commonly used to treat vaginal yeast infections. Some side effects of Monistat include mild vaginal itching, burning or irritation.

Your vagina and vulva are covered by a mucous membrane, a moist lining made up of a thin layer of skin cells and cells that secrete mucus. The mucous membrane of the vaginal area helps protect it from damage by lubricating it and acting as a barrier to germs. However, the mucous membrane of your vaginal area is also very sensitive and can absorb chemicals.

Because this area is so sensitive, you may experience itching or burning from medicines applied to it. These side effects may be caused by the actual drug (active ingredient) or by other substances in the product (inactive ingredients).

Although mild vaginal itching, burning and irritation are listed as side effects of Monistat, some women have reported more intense effects.

If you experience severe vaginal itching, burning, irritation or swelling after applying Monistat, you should stop using it and check with your doctor. You can also report an adverse effect like this to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Remember that if you wash your vaginal area or douche to try to relieve the itching or burning, then you will also remove the medicine, so it won't be able to treat the yeast infection.

Monistat preparations

Monistat comes as a cream or a vaginal suppository. It’s inserted directly into your vagina using the applicator provided, or spread on the vulva, the skin near the opening of your vagina, using your fingertips.

  • The cream is available as a 2% or 4% preparation.
  • The suppositories are available in 100 mg, 200 mg, or 1,200 mg strengths.
  • Length of treatment with Monistat varies between 1 and 7 days, depending on what strength of cream or suppository is being used.

Vaginal yeast infections

Vaginal yeast infections are frequently caused by a yeast called Candida albicans. About 1 in 5 women have this yeast living in their vaginal area normally without it causing any symptoms of infection. Exactly why vaginal yeast infections develop is unclear. They are not spread through sexual contact, and they are not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:

  • Vaginal itching, soreness or burning
  • Vaginal redness or irritation
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese
  • Pain while urinating
References
  1. Monistat.com. Monistat Consumer Information Leaflet. 2015. Available at: https://hcp.monistat.com/sites/monistat_hcp/files/2020-07/MN042601_M7_Cure_Itch_Complete.pdf. [Accessed March 4, 2021].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaginal candidiasis. November 10, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html. [Accessed March 4, 2020].
  3. LibreTexts.org. Skin and Mucosae (Surface Barriers). August 13, 2020. Available at: https://med.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Anatomy_and_Physiology/Book%3A_Anatomy_and_Physiology_(Boundless)/20%3A_Immune_System/20.1%3A_Innate_Immunity/20.1A%3A_Skin_and_Mucosae_(Surface_Barriers). [Accessed April 9, 2021].
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine (MedlinePlus). Vaginal Itching and Discharge. April 2, 2021. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003158.htm. [Accessed April 6, 2021].
  5. Drugs.com. User Reviews for Monistat to Treat Vaginal Yeast Infection. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/comments/miconazole-topical/monistat-for-vaginal-candidiasis.html. [Accessed March 15, 2021].
  6. Drugs.com. Inactive Ingredients. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/inactive/. [Accessed April 6, 2021].
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch-fda-safety-information-and-adverse-event-reporting-program. [Accessed March 15, 2021].

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