The skin lying on the external part of the female genitalia is known as vulva. This skin can get inflamed or irritated resulting in vulvitis due to abrasion, dryness, infection or injury. Vulvitis generally is not a serious condition apart from some pain and discomfort, however, inflammation of the vulva can be a result of a more underlying serious pathology such as STD or fungal infection.
There are many causes of vulvitis the common of which include
- Infections: Vaginal infections such as genital herpes and fungal infections.
- Irritants: Products containing added dyes or perfumes can cause allergic reaction such as soaps, sanitary napkins, underwear, etc.
- Medication: Hormone supplements and antidepressants can cause vaginal dryness leading to vulvitis.
- Vaginal douches: Frequent douching of the vagina and vulva can cause dryness and irritation.
- Hygiene habits: Unhealthy hygiene like not changing a soiled or wet underwear and not cleaning the vaginal area after urination can all lead to vulvitis.
Perimenopausal and menopausal women and girls yet to achieve menarche are more susceptible to developing vulvitis. Certain disease condition such as diabetes also make the women more prone to developing vulvitis.
Common symptoms of vulvitis are redness, itching, swelling, painful sexual activity and discomfort on wiping with toilet paper.
Pelvic examination is sufficient to diagnose vulvitis, however, your doctor may perform other diagnostic tests like urinalysis, Pap smears, etc to determine the underlying cause of vulvitis.
Treatment for vulvitis includes preventative measures as well as medical therapy.
- Stop using toiletry products such as soaps or lotions which can aggravate vulvitis.
- Avoid scratching the area.
- Keeping the area clean using warm water only once daily. Frequent washing can cause more irritation.
- Hydrocortisone cream for allergic reaction.
- Anti-fungal creams or antibacterial creams for infection.
- Topical estrogen for post-menopausal women.