Vulvitis is not a disease in itself, but rather an indication of a number of possible conditions or causes, including infection, allergies, irritants, or injury. The symptoms of vulvitis may vary for each woman, with the most common symptoms being itching (continuous and extreme), swelling, redness, pain, soreness, sensitivity, and changes in the skin surface such as thick or whitish patches, scaly areas, or blisters.
There may also be a burning sensation in the vulva, cracks in the skin, vaginal discharge, or redness and swelling on the inner or outer labia.
Some of the possible causes of vulvitis include:
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- Chemical irritants from scented sanitary or bath products
- Wearing wet clothing for long periods of time (such as a bathing suit) or wearing non-breathable fabrics
- Vaginal douches
This is chronic discomfort of the vulva, involving burning and soreness, and is a diagnosis of exclusion (in the case of no other cause being found). Women with diabetes are more likely to develop vulvitis, as are perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, due to changes in hormone levels which can affect vulvar tissue, making it thinner, less elastic, and more prone to dryness.
What to do next
Our highly experienced and caring gynaecological team can help you with these symptoms.
Call us to make an appointment if you are experiencing any uncomfortable or worrying symptoms.
The specialist will ask about other symptoms, menstrual and sexual history, examine your pelvic area, and may also take a swab of any abnormal discharge.
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Vulvitis has different presentations in different women, but the main symptoms are continuous itching, swelling, redness, and pain on the skin of the vulva. The skin surface may also change and develop discoloration or blisters.
Vulvitis is a symptom, not a disease, so treatment will depend on the diagnosis given by the doctor after evaluating your past medical history and any other symptoms.
Yes, in fact vulvitis is rarely associated with sexually transmitted infection. It is more likely due to a bacterial overgrowth or imbalance caused by chemical irritants such as soaps or detergents, and wearing tight, non-breathable fabrics.