What is Vulvitis?

Vulvitis is an inflammation of the vulva, or the outer area of the female genitalia. It can cause a number of unpleasant and often painful symptoms, such as itching, burning, pain, and discomfort. Vulvitis is a very common condition, although the exact cause is not always known.

Causes of Vulvitis

There are many possible causes of vulvitis, including:

  • Infections caused by bacteria or viruses, such as yeast infections, chlamydia, herpes, or gonorrhea
  • Contact dermatitis, caused by substances that come in contact with the vulva, such as a new detergent, soap, lotion, or douche
  • Irritation from wearing tight clothing or using deodorant products, soap, perfumes, or bubble bath near the vulva.
  • Allergic reactions to certain substances, such as latex, dyes, or perfumes
  • Chemical irritants, such as those found in some feminine hygiene sprays
  • Medical conditions, such as lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, or psoriasis
  • Injury to the vulva

Symptoms of Vulvitis

The symptoms of vulvitis will depend on the underlying cause. Common symptoms of vulvitis include: itching, burning, pain, swelling, redness, soreness, and a discharge. Some women may also experience spotting between menstrual cycles or painful intercourse.

Treatment of Vulvitis

The treatment for vulvitis depends on the underlying cause. In many cases, the condition can be managed with medications, such as topical creams or ointments, an antiviral medication, or antibiotics, depending on the nature of the infection. Women with genital herpes may need to use antiviral medications for long-term management of their condition. If underlying allergies or skin irritations are causing the condition, avoiding the offending substance or wearing less-restrictive clothes may help to reduce symptoms.