The vulva is the external genitals of a woman, and contains the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris and bartholin glands.
The main skin conditions that can affect the vulva are:
Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicle. It can present as small, red, sore bumps due to hair removal such as shaving. They usually go away on their own but if they are persistent or get lager then you might need treatment.
Contact dermatitis is when the skin is irritated, itchy, raw and painful. It is often caused by soaps and fabrics. It usually goes away on its own if you avoid using soaps and other things that may be causing it, and keeping the area cool and protected. If the dermatitis is particularly bad you may need treatment.
Bartholin gland cysts
There are two bartholin glands on the female body, located on each side of the opening of the vagina (the tube that connects the vulva to the cervix). They release fluid which helps lubricate the vagina.
If they become blocked, a painful cyst can form. They may go away on their own if you have warm baths, apply warm compresses and take anti-inflammatory medicine, but if the cyst becomes infected and forms an abscess it may need treatment to drain it.
Linchen sclerosus presents as small white bumps and thin white skin on the vulva. The skin can easily tear. It can cause itching, burning and pain during intercourse. You can try to manage the symptoms by wearing cotton underwear and applying a barrier cream to the area. However, steroid cream is usually used to help treat the condition.
Lichen planus presents as sore red raised bumps on the skin. It can cause itching, burning, and unusual discharge. Using a cold compress on the area and wearing loose cotton underwear may help relieve the symptoms, and prescribed tablets and creams can help treat the condition.
Lichen simplex chronicus
Linchen simplex chronicus is thickened, scaly plaques on the vulva which can be itchy. You would usually require treatment to stop the itching so the skin can heal.
Although rare, vulva cancer can present as a lump on the vulva, itching, pain and burning.
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