Vulvitis is an inflammation of the vulva, which are the soft folds of skin outside the vagina that surround the opening of the vagina. It can be challenging to find the exact cause of vulvitis, but it is usually due to infections, injuries, allergies, or irritants.
When both the vulva and vagina are inflamed, the disorder is called vulvovaginitis.
Common Causes of Vulvitis
Common causes of vulvitis include:
- Hot tubs and swimming pools
- Infections such as pubic lice or mites (scabies)
- Laundry detergents
- Perfumed soaps or bubble baths
- Riding a horse
- Rubbing against a bike seat
- Sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes
- Shampoos and hair conditioners
- Skin disorders, such as dermatitis
- Toilet paper with perfume or dye
- Underwear made of synthetic material without a cotton crotch
- Vaginal sprays, deodorants, and powders
- Wearing a wet bathing suit for a long period
- Yeast infections.
In children, infections of the vagina may spread to the vulva.
Symptoms of Vulvitis
Symptoms may include:
- Intense itching of the vulva
- Redness and swelling on the labia and other parts of the vulva
- Clear, fluid-filled blisters
- Sore, scaly, thick, or white patches on the vulva (chronic vulvitis)
Rarely, the labia become stuck together.
Diagnosis of Vulvitis
A doctor will examine the vulva and ask you questions about symptoms, discharge, how long you have had the condition, and possible causes. Tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- A Pap test (a collection of cells from the cervix).
Treatment of Vulvitis
Treatment for vulvitis may include:
- Avoiding substances that can irritate the vulva
- Sitting in a sitz bath containing soothing compounds (to help control the itching)
- Applying cortisone cream or estrogen cream to the vulva
- Keeping the vulva clean and dry
If vulvitis persists, doctors may do a biopsy to look for the cause.
- Vulvitis. 2022. John Hopkins Health. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/vulvitis
- Vulvitis. 2022. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15175-vulvitis