Disorders of the Vulva

Vulvar Skin Disorders

The vulva, the external genital region of the female reproductive system, is susceptible to different kinds of problems caused by infection, inflammation or allergens. It is necessary to keep your vulva clean and free from bacterial invasions to avoid such infections. Some types of vulvar skin conditions include eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus and lichen sclerosus.

Vulvar skin disorders are mostly caused due to yeast, parasite or bacterial infections, but may also be caused due a sexually transmitted infection (HIV or syphilis), reduction in oestrogen after menopause, stress, other infections and conditions affecting other parts of the body, autoimmunity, and exposure to irritants (soaps, shampoos and detergents) and allergens (certain drugs and fragrances).

Symptoms of vulvar skin disorders may include burning, scaling, red patches, itching, white discharge, rashes and soreness. Your medical history plays an important role in the diagnosis of vulvar skin disorders. Your doctor will question you about your personal hygiene and perform a thorough physical examination, laboratory tests, pH tests (to check the acidity of the vagina) and biopsy to identify the vulvar skin disorder.

Treatment depends on the type of disorder. Your doctor may prescribe a topical corticosteroid cream, antihistamines and application of cold packs to reduce any itching sensations. In certain cases, an anti-yeast or antibiotic may be prescribed. Oestrogen therapy is sometimes suggested to treat vulvar skin problems. Your doctor may also advice some life style changes such as wearing loose clothing and using unscented cleansers.