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Squamous hyperplasia is a medical condition in which the skin of the human female vulva experiences abnormal growth. Throughout the course of the growth, the condition may take on a number of different appearances, in part because of medicine, soap, or incessant scratching on the part of the sufferer. Squamous hyperplasia typically will cause the vulva to become a pinkish-red tone with raised white patches. Squamous hyperplasia usually coincides with some sort of chemical, allergic or physical irritation, though it may be a response to other vulvar conditions. Other names for squamous hyperplasia include squamous cell hyperplasia, hyperplastic dystrophy, leukoplakia and vulvar hyperplasia.
Squamous hyperplasia lesions range in size. Areas of the vulva that are most frequently subjected to this abnormal skin growth include the inner labia, outer labia, clitoral hood and the posterior commissure. The lesions also may spread to the thighs.
Other than the physical appearance of squamous hyperplasia, this condition will most likely cause women to have pruritus, or intense itching. This itching is what often brings sufferers to seek medical help. Women with the condition may also experience anxiety and irritability as a result of the discomfort and the loss of sleep caused by the itching itself. A physician may prescribe anti-anxiety medication for this.
A physician will make a diagnosis by performing a biopsy of the affected area. The first step in treatment will be to prescribe something to relieve the itching, such as topical corticosteroids. The steroids may take some time to take effect. Long-term use of steroid creams or ointments is typical if the condition is chronic, and it often is. Along with steroid treatment, women with this condition should decrease their exposure to vulvar irritants, including dyed toilet paper and perfumes, including those found in soaps and laundry detergents.
There are times when squamous cell hyperplasia will be present along with other vulvar conditions. Lichen sclerosus, another vulvar condition, may be present. Small, white, shiny spots in the vulvar area are the first symptom of lichen sclerosus. These spots commonly turn into bigger patches on the skin that get thin and crinkle; they tear easily, causing bright red and purple bruising. If a woman has lichen sclerosis along with squamous cell hyperplasia, she has an increased chance of developing vulvar cancer and consistent follow-up with a physician is critical.
Although the vulva only represents a small percentage of a woman's body, there are a number of diseases both benign and malignant that may be present in the area. After a woman has squamous hyperplasia, she and her physician should monitor that area of her body for future disease. Of patients with this condition, 4 percent may go on to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva.
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