Vulvar Dermatitis: All You Need To Know
Vulvar dermatitis is a common condition that leads to the vulva being itchy and painful. It can be caused by skin damage, environmental factors or allergens.
The external genital area of a woman known as vulva, is a delicate and sensitive part of the female body. Just like any other skin area of the body, vulva is susceptible to various dermatological conditions, including vulvar dermatitis. The vulva is made up of delicate skin that is easily irritated. This condition can cause discomfort, itching, and inflammation, impacting a woman's overall well-being.
What is vulvar dermatitis?
Vulvar dermatitis refers to a condition that causes inflammation of the vulvar skin, leading to discomfort and irritation. It is a common condition, affecting up to 1 in 3 women at some point in their lives. Vulvar dermatitis encompasses atopic dermatitis (vulvar eczema) and contact dermatitis. In both cases, you may experience itching in the vulva due to skin damage or an allergic reaction triggered by something in your environment.
There are different types of vulvar dermatitis, each with its unique characteristics.
Here are some common types:
Contact dermatitis - This type of vulvar dermatitis occurs when its skin comes into contact with irritants or allergens, such as soaps, perfumes, fabrics, or certain chemicals. It can cause itching, redness, and a burning sensation.
Atopic dermatitis - Atopic dermatitis which is also known as eczema is a chronic condition characterised by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. When it affects the vulva, it can cause intense itching and discomfort.
Seborrheic dermatitis - This type of dermatitis typically affects areas with oil glands, such as the scalp and face, but it can also occur in the vulvar region. It presents as red, scaly patches and can be accompanied by itching and irritation.
Psoriasis - It is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells, leading to thick, silvery scales and red patches. When it affects the vulva, it can cause discomfort, itching, and pain.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms of vulvar dermatitis can vary depending on the underlying cause and individual factors. Common symptoms include:
- Burning and itching sensation in the vulvar area
- Redness and inflammation
- Dry or scaly skin
- Soreness or tenderness
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
During the diagnosis of vulvar dermatitis, a healthcare professional will typically perform a thorough physical examination and review the individual's medical history. In certain cases, the healthcare professional may recommend additional tests, such as skin biopsies or patch tests to determine the specific cause of the dermatitis.
The treatment of vulvar dermatitis focuses on relieving symptoms, reducing inflammation, and managing the underlying cause. Here are some approaches commonly used:
Avoiding triggers - It is important to identify and avoid irritants or allergens that trigger vulvar dermatitis. You may need to use gentle, fragrance-free soaps, avoiding tight-fitting clothing, and opting for hypoallergenic products.
Topical medications - Your healthcare professional may prescribe you corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce inflammation and relieve itching.
Moisturisers - To soothe dryness and prevent further irritation it is advisable to apply moisturisers or emollients to the vulvar area.
Lifestyle modifications - While managing vulvar dermatitis, you may need to make certain lifestyle changes. These may include wearing breathable cotton underwear, practising good hygiene, avoiding excessive moisture, and maintaining a healthy diet.
Treating underlying conditions - If your vulvar dermatitis is the result of an underlying condition, such as a yeast infection or hormonal imbalance, appropriate treatment for that condition may be necessary.
Hygiene practices to avoid vulvar dermatitis
Adopting the following self-care and hygiene measures can help reduce the risk of vulvar dermatitis:
- Opt for unscented toilet paper
- Choose sanitary pads with a cotton liner
- Exercise caution when using feminine hygiene products labelled as "gentle" or "mild"
- Gently pat dry the vulva or use a hairdryer on the cool setting for drying
- Avoid applying scented lotions or oils to the vulva
- Refrain from scrubbing the vulva with a washcloth
- Avoid douching
- Steer clear of menstrual products that contain deodorant or have plastic coatings
- Avoid using hair removal products or shaving the vulva
- Refrain from using soaps, gels, or lotions that contain perfumes
Vulvar dermatitis can significantly impact a woman's comfort and quality of life. However, by understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for vulvar dermatitis, you can take proactive steps towards managing and minimising its effects. In severe cases and for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan it is important to consult a healthcare professional. Remember, self-care and awareness are key to maintaining vulvar health and overall well-being.Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.