What is it?
Genital skin problems are very common and are not necessarily related to sexually transmitted diseases. The external genital organ of a woman is known as vulva. Vulval symptoms may include redness, itchiness, pain and ulceration. Common examples are:
- Candidiasis (thrush)
- Dermatitis (eczema)
- Herpes and warts
- Lichen sclerosis
- Lichen planus
- Lichen simplex chronicus
- Behçet’s disease
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis may be tricky and is best done by an expert. Dermatologists, gynaecologists and doctors in genitourinary medicine are the most appropriate specialists to examine and diagnose vulval diseases. Skin swabs or biopsies (samples) may be helpful.
How is it treated?
Taking good care of the genital skin can help treat and prevent vulval and vaginal problems. General principles include:
- Avoiding harsh soaps. These can dry out and irritate the skin. Water and non-drying, fragrance-free soap substitutes are preferable.
- Using loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear to avoid irritation.
- Applying water- or oil-based emollients to add a layer of protection to the skin.
- Topical treatment including steroids, antibiotics or anti-fungals may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation and treat infection.