Overview of vulvitis

Vulvitis is inflammation of the vulva, the external female genitalia. It rarely causes long-term complications, but can cause significant discomfort. Symptoms vary from woman to woman and may depend on the severity of the inflammation.

Anything that irritates the skin of the vulva can cause vulvitis. Common causes include:

  • Allergic reactions to chemicals used in toilet paper, laundry detergent, vaginal sprays, soaps, bubble baths, spermicides, or sanitary pads
  • Infections, including yeast infections, herpes, scabies, and pubic lice
  • Skin disorders, including eczema or dermatitis
  • Physical irritation, from sports activities, biking, horseback riding, or continued exposure to moisture (such as remaining in a wet bathing suit)

Symptoms of vulvitis

Signs and symptoms of vulvitis include:

  • Burning or itching
  • Redness and swelling
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Small cracks in the skin of the vulva
  • Thick, scaly, whitish patches on the vulva

If you are experiencing vulvar irritation, our experienced gynecologists at Dignity Health will diagnose and provide treatment for vulvitis in AZ, CA, and NV. Find a Doctor and make an appointment today.

Treatment and prevention of vulvitis

Your treatment and prevention options depend on your age, health history, lifestyle, and personal risk factors. Your doctor may discuss prevention strategies with you such as:

  • Wearing underwear with a breathable cotton lining
  • Avoiding soaps and hygiene products with added colors or fragrances
  • Changing out of wet clothing as soon as possible
  • Washing the genital area with mild soap and water daily, and drying thoroughly before dressing
  • Avoiding tight-fitting pants and underwear

Treatment will depend on the severity of the irritation. Mild cases of vulvitis, or vulvar itching, may not require medical attention. Simple self-care measures, including avoidance of irritating substances and sitting in warm water, can ease discomfort and promote healing.

If your vulvitis symptoms do not improve within a day or so, visit your doctor at Dignity Health. Your doctor can help determine the cause of vulvar irritation and prescribe appropriate treatment. Medical treatment of vulvitis may include:

  • Topical creams or ointments, including hydrocortisone ointment or estrogen cream
  • Medication to treat infection, if an infection is causing your symptoms, to eliminate the underlying condition

With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, most cases of vulvitis go away within a few weeks, and possibly sooner.

Dignity Health provides healing care and treatment for women with vulvitis in Arizona, California, and Nevada.