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Oluwatosin Goje

, MD, MSCR, Cleveland Clinic, Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University

Last full review/revision Apr 2021| Content last modified Apr 2021
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Vulvitis is inflammation of the vulva. When both the vulva and vagina are inflamed, the disorder is called vulvovaginitis.

The vulva is the area surrounding the opening of the vagina and containing the external female genital organs.

External Female Genital Organs

External Female Genital Organs

Causes of Vulvitis

Vulvitis may result from

Contact with urine and stool sometimes causes ongoing (chronic) vulvitis.

In children, infections of the vagina may also affect the vulva. These infections may be due to bacteria from the anus or other bacteria.

Symptoms of Vulvitis

Vulvitis causes itching, soreness, and redness. Rarely, the folds of skin around the vaginal and urethral openings (labia) become stuck together. Chronic vulvitis may result in sore, scaly, thickened, or whitish patches on the vulva.

Diagnosis of Vulvitis

  • A doctor's evaluation

Doctors examine the vulva to check for redness and changes in the skin and check for a discharge from the vagina. They also ask questions about the discharge (if present), about possible causes of the symptoms, and about hygiene.

To check for other infections, doctors typically do a pelvic examination, Gynecologic Examination For gynecologic care, a woman should choose a health care practitioner with whom she can comfortably discuss sensitive topics, such as sex, birth control, pregnancy, and problems related to... read more and if a discharge is present, they examine it under a microscope. The doctor may also use a swab to take a sample of fluid from the cervix. The sample is tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Treatment of Vulvitis

  • General measures

  • Hydrocortisone or estrogen cream

Various treatments may be tried for vulvitis. They include

  • Avoiding substances that can irritate the vulva

  • Keeping the vulva clean and dry

  • Sitting in a sitz bath containing soothing substances (to help control the itching)

  • Applying hydrocortisone or estrogen cream to the vulva

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