What You Can Do To Look After Your Vulva
The treatment of vulval irritation will depend on the cause and your doctor will help you decide which is the right treatment.
In this video Dr Elizabeth Farrell gives some tips for treatment. You can also refer to the table below to learn what you can do to look after your vulva, and how to reduce irritation.
The Problem With Self
When vaginal or vulvar itching occurs, women usually assume it’s a yeast infection and treat it with an over-the-counter antifungal cream. Often this does the trick, but not always. Instead, the cause of the symptoms might be dry skin, a sexually transmitted disease or bacterial infection, a less common strain of yeast that required special medication, or irritation by and allergic reactions to common products such as soaps, creams, and lotions.
If yeast isn’t the problem, an antifungal cream isn’t the solution. And if your skin is already irritated, you may exacerbate the problem by introducing preservatives and other ingredients contained in many antifungal remedies. That’s why it’s important to see your gynecologist or dermatologist if a problem persists after you’ve tried a standard antifungal cream.
Another common response of women faced with a vaginal discharge or itch is to wash the vulvar skin vigorously, on the assumption that this will disinfect the area or remove irritants. But aggressive cleansing can add to the irritation. Until the problem is diagnosed, it’s best to follow a gentle skin care routine . In fact, gentle cleansing applies whether you have a vulvar skin condition or not: Wash the area gently with your fingertips or a soft cloth and pat dry with a soft towel. Don’t use a rough washcloth, and don’t rub.
When To See A Doctor
If at-home treatments are not enough, see your physician. He or she may recommend the following.
- Pelvic examination: A gynecologist can examine the area with special lights and tools to determine what might be causing your problem.
- Prescription creams and lotions: These medications can target your specific symptoms as determined by your doctor.
- Biopsy: Your doctor may take a small sample of your skin and send it to a laboratory for further examination under a microscope.
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Proper Diagnosis Treatment Vital To Get Relief From Vulvar Itching And Other Irritating Conditions
The vulva is subject to a range of skin problems, many of them inadvertently self-inflicted.
You may routinely pamper your face and work hard to keep it moisturized and irritation-free, but what have you done lately for the more sensitive skin of your vulva, the external genital area surrounding your vagina?
Many women have been primed to think no further than “itch equals yeast infection.” But with age and the decline in estrogen after menopause, women become more prone to a variety of conditions that irritate vulvar skin. These conditions aren’t getting the medical attention they need and women aren’t getting the relief they deserve.
Home Remedies And Care Tips
In addition to your medication, there are some things you can do at home to keep yourself comfortable. Always talk to your doctor before you begin any at-home treatments like:
Gold Bond or Zeasorb Powder. You can sprinkle these on your underwear to control dampness. Donât use other forms of powder or cornstarch.
To get the best treatment outcome, follow these care instructions:
- Donât wash your vaginal area more than once a day. Only use cool water with or without a mild soap.
- Use unscented sanitary pads or tampons during your period.
- Donât have sex until you feel better.
- Try sleeping without any underwear.
- Wear looser clothing. Stay away from nylon or other fabrics that hold in heat and moisture.
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How Is Vaginal Peeling Diagnosed
The conditions which cause vaginal peeling have different treatments. In order to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, see a gynecologist if you have vaginal peeling. To make a diagnose, your doctor will visually assess your genital area.
They will ask about health issues you may have, such as autoimmune diseases and inflammatory skin conditions. They will also ask about medications and supplements you currently take. They will ask about your sexual history and may do tests for STIs.
If lichen planus or lichen sclerosis is suspected, they may perform a skin biopsy.
If you have vaginal peeling, stop using products which might irritate your skin. If eczema is causing your symptoms, this may be enough to eliminate symptoms.
Soothing treatments, such as soaking in a warm colloidal oatmeal bath, may also help.
Wear only breathable fabrics such as cotton, and loose undergarments that dont bind.
Yeast infections are one of the most common causes of vaginal symptoms such as skin peeling. This condition can be treated with over-the-counter medications designed for this purpose, such as antifungal creams. If you dont have a yeast infection, these treatments may make vaginal peeling and itching worse. For that reason, see your doctor first, especially if you havent had these symptoms before.
Your doctor may prescribe high potency corticosteroid creams or oral corticosteroids. In some instances, estrogen cream may also be prescribed.
Cancerous Conditions Of The Vulva
Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia is a pre-cancerous condition of the vulva. The affected cells divide quickly and erratically, but could stay benign for many years. Vulvar cancer is classified according to its cell of origin. This can include:
- squamous cell carcinoma originating in the skin cells. This type accounts for about 90 per cent of cases
- melanoma originating in the pigment cells deeper in the skin. This type accounts for about five per cent of cases
- adenocarcinoma originating from the Bartholins glands, the structures that supply lubricant. This type accounts for less than one per cent of cases
- sarcoma originating from fat cells. This type is very rare
- lymphoma originating from the immune cells. This type is very rare
- basal cell carcinoma a form of skin cancer. This type is very rare.
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Diagnosis Of Vulvar Conditions
Vulvar conditions can be diagnosed using a number of tests including:
- medical history
- swab tests to check for infections
Although it can feel awkward, it is important that you ask your health professional to examine your vulva if you have vulvar irritation, so that they can be sure to diagnose and treat your condition correctly.
What Is The Prognosis For Lichen Sclerosus
Lichen sclerosus is a life-long condition for which there is no cure. If the disease progresses or is left untreated, it may cause serious, debilitating symptoms.
Fortunately, treatment generally reduces and, in some cases, eliminates symptoms, though relapses still tend to occur periodically. People with lichen sclerosus should regularly visit their physician to ensure that they are following an appropriate treatment regimen to monitor any signs of progression of the condition.
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External Vaginal Dryness And Itching Symptoms
Youve tried to ignore it, but that bothersome flake and itch wont go away. Its become increasingly distracting, and feel embarrassed but fear not, this is a common problem. Environmental irritants are often to blame, though there are many possible causes. See a physician for dry skin that persists in this area or if you experience other concerning symptoms.
Dry flaky skin in females pubic area: Causes and treatment
The American Academy of Dermatology has said that some people are more at risk of dry skin than others. They include:
Sexually transmitted infections may also cause dry, flaky skin in the pubic area.
Other symptoms include:
A person who feels embarrassed should remember that lots of these causes are common in females.
Depending on the severity of the condition, doctors may recommend creams, lotions, and ointments that moisturize the skin and ease the itching. In some cases, doctors may prescribe oral medications such as biological drugs to help to control the inflammation.
Are There Medicines To Treat Lichen Sclerosus
Yes. Prescription medications are available to help with the symptoms of lichen sclerosus. The most common treatment is a strong topical corticosteroid ointment that lessens swelling and itching on the skin and decreases the bodys immune response. A health care provider will probably recommend applying medicine every day for weeks to months depending upon the response to treatment. After the skin is much healthier, a lower dose of medicine is prescribed. The topical ointment should be used the way it is prescribed. It should not be stopped suddenly. Before it is discontinued altogether, the topical medication should gradually be used less frequently and in smaller amounts.
After several months to years, continued treatment may not be necessary, however it is still important to watch for signs that the condition is returning and see your health care provider for check-ups. You should try to avoid things that might irritate your vulva such as harsh soaps, bubble baths, long bike or horseback rides, or other activities or clothes that can cause a lot of rubbing of your genital area. Treatment may not change the scarring.
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Itching Caused By Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness can result in many cases of itching, both external and internal. Hormonal shifts during menopause, as well as douching and certain medications, can dry up vaginal mucus. That dryness can result in itching and other uncomfortable symptoms.
In cases where vaginal dryness results from menopause or other hormone-related issues, estrogen in the form of a cream, tablet or inserted ring is the most common treatment. Most women find these approaches very effective in alleviating dryness and itching. If you believe you are experiencing vaginal itching caused by hormones, see our article on vaginal atrophy.
For those whose dryness and itching comes from an external source or lifestyle factors, your doctor may recommend you stop douching or, if possible, change medications. Dabbing a little bit of vaseline petroleum jelly, coconut oil or even Crisco vegetable shortening on the dry skin area can also help heal itching.
Can Lichen Sclerosus Cause Complications
There is also a 5 percent risk that vulvar lichen sclerosus can develop into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. If your lichen sclerosus turns into squamous cell carcinomas, they may resemble red lumps, ulcers, or crusted areas. Cancer may be more likely if the disease is not controlled.
Except in cases involving children, which sometimes resolve on their own, lichen sclerosus cant be cured. However, it can be treated.
Treatment options include:
- topical corticosteroids, which are often applied daily
- removal of the foreskin in severe cases involving those with uncircumcised penises
- ultraviolet light treatment for affected rashes not on the genitals
- immune-modulating medications like pimecrolimus , ciclosporin, or methotrexate
- other medications like oral corticosteroids or oral retinoids
Other protective measures may include:
- washing the affected area daily with a gentle, non-soap cleanser
- avoiding clothing that may cause friction to the area
- avoiding bike and horseback riding
- applying moisturizer to relieve itching and dryness and to create a protective barrier on the skin
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Common Causes Of Vaginal Irritation And Home Remedies That Ob/gyn Doctors Recommend
Vaginal itching affects nearly every woman at some point, and while for some its simply an uncomfortable nuisance, for others it signals a more serious underlying health issue. In most cases, however, alleviating vaginal itching is as simple as identifying and treating the cause.
Vaginal itching, burning and discharge can be caused by many different aggravating factors such as irritating substances, infections, skin disorders, sexually transmitted diseases or even menopause. If your OB/GYN doctor find that your vaginal itching is a result of one of the following common causes, there is most likely an easy treatment or fix.
Why Is My Vaginal Skin Turning White
Have you noticed changes in the appearance of the skin in the vaginal area and wondered Why is my vaginal skin turning white? The vaginal skin is often overlooked during a physical examination, yet it plays an important role in vaginal health. Therefore, any changes in the color of the skin should be investigated.
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How Long Does It Take Vulvar Dermatitis To Heal
The amount of time it takes vulvar dermatitis to heal will depend on the cause.
For example, if caused by irritation from a product or clothing, the symptoms will likely resolve within one to two weeks after removing the irritant.
If caused by an infection, symptoms should start to get better within one to two weeks of treatment. However, symptoms could remain for a month or longer.
Ways To Treat Vulvar Dermatitis At Home
Depending on the cause and severity, you might be able to treat a cause of vulvar dermatitis at home. Here are a few examples of conditions you might be able to self-manage.
Allergies to Products
If your symptoms developed after using a new product, you may have an allergy to it. If you stop using the product, your symptoms should get better in a week or two.
People who have previously had a yeast infection may recognize the symptoms and take steps to treat them on their own. Over-the-counter creams, ointments, suppositories, and anti-fungal medications can be used to treat and reduce the itching from yeast infection.
If your symptoms do not resolve within two weeks of treatment, the yeast infection keeps coming back, or you are concerned about your symptoms, talk to your doctor.
There are also several other home remedies that are not specific to one condition but might help you manage the symptoms of vulvar dermatitis:
- Use moisturizers or lubrication if your skin is dry.
- Wash your vaginal area about once a day with cool water and mild, nonirritating soap, and be sure to pat the area dry instead of rubbing.
- Apply anti-itch creams or ointments.
- Use a cold compress to ease irritation and inflammation.
- Take an OTC antihistamine or allergy medication.
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What Causes Groin Infections
Groin infections can be caused by a fungus. A fungal infection of the groin can often be irritating to the skin and may be very painful or itchy. Fungal infections may be passed on from person to person, but this is not always the case.
Fungi like moist, warm places to infect, such as folds of skin. To prevent fungal infections the area should be kept clean and dry. It is a good idea to avoid sharing towels, bedding or clothes.
What Is Lichen Sclerosus
Untreated, lichen sclerosus can lead to scarring, making it difficult or painful to have sex, urinate or have a bowel movement. There is no cure for lichen sclerosus, but symptoms can be controlled. Healthcare providers can treat symptoms, but they may return after treatment. Having lichen sclerosus increases your chances of developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated.
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Vaginal Skin Loss Treatments Tips
Welsh recommends the following vaginal skin treatment tips:
Don’t use perfumed products, which often include many chemicals and irritants. This includes soap and often marketed as “vaginal cleaning” products.
Basic moisturising creams can help simple dryness on the skin on the vulva, but it is important to be seen by a professional, so other conditions can be ruled out first.
Certain skin conditions, including lichen planus and eczema, may respond to steroid creams but these need to be prescribed firstly by a doctor.
Natural, water-based lubricants are a great way to help keep things supple during intercourse. They are safe to use with condoms and shouldn’t cause any irritation if they are all natural.
What Are The Signs
- Mild to severe burning and/or itching of the vulva
- Vulvar redness and swelling
- Raw feeling due to the vulvar irritation
- Damp or wet feeling due to weeping of the irritated skin surface
- Some women mistake this dampness as vaginal discharge.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Vaginal Peeling
If you have psoriasis or eczema, you may be more likely to have vaginal peeling and other uncomfortable genital symptoms. Having psoriasis also increases your risk of lichen sclerosis.
If you swim or work out regularly, change out of damp or sweaty clothing quickly. Any activity that puts pressure on the genitals, such as cycling, can also increase risk.
Wearing nylon and other nonbreathable fabrics, or using products containing fragrance or chemicals, may irritate vaginal skin and increase risk.
Check If You Have Lichen Sclerosus
Lichen sclerosus affects people of all ages, including children. But it’s much more common in women over 50.
People with white, brown or black skin can get lichen sclerosus.
It causes patches on the skin that are usually:
- easily damaged they may bleed or hurt if rubbed or scratched
The patches can appear anywhere, but most often are on the:
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Diagnosis And Treatment Of Vulvar Dermatitis
If your doctor finds that you have eczema on your vulva, theyâll suggest the next steps for treatment. Itâs best to go with your doctorâs recommendations rather than over-the-counter methods since these might have additional allergens or irritants in them.
Your doctor might prescribe a cream to treat your eczema. You should apply the cream to your vulva as often as instructed by your doctor. While you use it, youâll want to keep stronger soaps and cosmetic washes away from your vaginal area.
Your doctor may also give you a topical steroid. The skin on your vulva will absorb this medication quickly, so itâs important that you use it carefully and as directed. Usually, you should only use these medications once or twice a day. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic with your steroid cream as well. Make sure you follow the directions to avoid further eczema flares.