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Vulva conditions

What is the vulva?

The external female genital area is called the vulva. The outer folds of skin are called the labia majora and the inner folds are called the labia minora.


What conditions affect the vulva?

  • Folliculitis

Small, red bumps caused by bacteria that infect a hair follicle, which can occur from hair removal. Folliculitis often goes away by itself.

  • Contact dermatitis

Stinging and irritation usually from soaps and perfumes. Avoid using irritants on the area and wear cotton underwear and it will usually go away on its own, although more severe cases may need medical help.

  • Bartholin gland cyst

A blockage of the glands that sit on either side of the opening of the vagina. They are usually not painful, however if they become infected they can form an abscess and cause pain. If an abscess has formed it can be drained.

  • Lichen simplex chronicus

Thickened, scaly areas called “plaques” appear on the vulvar skin. These plaques cause intense itching that may interfere with sleep. Treatment involves stopping the “itch-scratch” cycle so that the skin can heal. Steroid creams often are used for this purpose. The underlying conditions such as contact dermatitis that has been left untreated should be treated as well.

  • Lichen sclerosus

A skin disorder that can cause itching, burning, pain during sex, and tears in the skin. The vulvar skin may appear thin, white, and crinkled. White bumps may be present with dark purple colouring. A steroid cream is used to treat lichen sclerosus.

  • Lichen planus

Itching, soreness, burning of the vulva and abnormal discharge. There may be white streaks on the vulvar skin, or the entire surface may be white. There may be bumps that are dark pink in colour. Treatment of lichen planus may include medicated creams or ointments, vaginal tablets, prescription pills, or injections.

  • Vulva cancer

Vulvar cancer can be caused by infection with HPV.  Symptoms may include itching, burning, inflammation, or pain. Other symptoms of cancer include a lump or sore on the vulva, changes in the skin colour, or a bump in the groin area.

Other forms of cancer that can affect the vulva include skin cancer or Paget disease.

Book your appointment with Gynaecologist Consultant, Miss Evi Bakali.

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