What are the common causes of dry vaginal skin?

Most women will experience dry vaginal skin at some point in their lives, and the causes are usually fairly minor and easy to treat. These causes can range from tight clothing to the use of scented soap. Sometimes vaginal dryness can have a more rooted cause, such as hormonal imbalances or vaginal infections.

Menopause is one of the most common causes of dry vaginal skin. During the reproductive years, the mucous membranes of the vagina usually create fluid to help lubricate the vaginal lining. The creation of this fluid is stimulated by the hormone estrogen. During menopause, estrogen levels typically drop, which can cause the skin in the vagina to become dry and sensitive.

Certain lifestyle choices can also be responsible for dry vaginal skin. For example, tight clothing or material that doesn't allow an adequate amount of airflow can irritate the vagina, which can cause the skin to dry out. Soaps and body washes with many perfumes, chemicals, or oils, as well as certain feminine hygiene products, can also cause dry skin. A poor diet, prescription drugs, and emotional stress can lead to a decrease in certain hormones, which in turn can also cause the vaginal skin to lose moisture.

Although most causes of dry vaginal skin are fairly harmless, others can be more concerning. Certain autoimmune conditions, such as Sjogren's syndrome and lichen sclerosis, can affect the moisture content of the genital region. Sjogren's syndrome causes an increase in antibodies in the blood, which can act against certain tissues in the body. In some cases, this can cause inflammation of the lining of the vagina, which can lead to irritation and dryness. Lichen sclerosis causes dry, scaly patches to form on the vulva and anus, although these patches can develop elsewhere as well.

Dry vaginal skin can also be a symptom of certain infections, skin conditions, or allergic reactions. Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections can serve to increase vaginal dryness in external skin areas, mainly because these areas frequently come into contact with irritating and infected secretions. Certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as the herpes simplex virus and genital warts, can also deplete vaginal moisture. Additionally, vaginal dryness may be a physiological response to contact dermatitis and genital psoriasis.

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