What is vulvar dermatitis?

Vulvar dermatitis is considered a type of eczema and is a skin condition that affects the female genitalia and sometimes the buttocks. There are two types of vulvar dermatitis, called endogenous vulvar dermatitis and exogenous vulvar dermatitis. Both are considered autoimmune disorders and cause pain and itching in the vaginal area. Treatments involve lifestyle changes and medications intended to relieve symptoms.

Endogenous vulvar dermatitis is believed to have a genetic cause. Topical medications, such as creams or ointments, are often used for this condition to reduce the amount of irritation and relieve pain and itching. Keeping the vaginal area clean is especially important for women with this type of skin disorder. Using mild soaps without added perfumes can help prevent irritation.

Exogenous vulvar dermatitis is caused by allergic reactions or sensitivities to certain chemicals or other substances that come into contact with the sensitive vaginal area. This can cause a rash, as well as swelling and peeling of the skin. Different substances can trigger an episode of vulvar dermatitis in different women. Common triggers include soaps, lotions, and latex. Eliminating as many triggers as possible can lengthen the amount of time between flare-ups.

Some women with vulvar dermatitis find that they cannot tolerate vaginal lubricants or contraceptives and may also be sensitive to condoms, particularly those made with latex. If this is a problem, a gynecologist can help decide on alternative methods of contraception. Unfortunately, some women are also sensitive to bodily fluids like semen. These concerns should be addressed with a doctor.

The amount of itching with this skin condition can get quite intense. It is very important that the patient does not scratch the area if possible. Scratching can cause further irritation and allow harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream, possibly leading to infection. Doctors often run tests to verify that the condition is actually a form of dermatitis rather than something more serious, such as cancer.

Topical estrogen creams are often prescribed to treat the symptoms of this condition. However, as estrogen is a natural female hormone, it could cause adverse reactions when used in girls. For this reason, girls should be carefully monitored by a doctor when using this type of medication. If the patient develops recurrent outbreaks, the doctor may prescribe a type of steroid cream instead of using a hormonal cream.

Go up