What is Vulvar Dermatitis?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2018
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Vulvar dermatitis is considered to be a type of eczema and is a skin condition that affects the female genitalia and sometimes the buttocks. There are two types of vulvar dermatitis, referred to as endogenous vulvar dermatitis and exogenous vulvar dermatitis. Both are considered to be autoimmune disorders and cause pain and itching in the vaginal area. Treatments involve lifestyle changes and medications aimed at relieving symptoms.

Endogenous vulvar dermatitis is thought to have a genetic cause. Topical medications such as creams or ointments are often used for this condition in order to reduce the amount of irritation and relieve the pain and itching. Keeping the vaginal area clean is especially important in those women who suffer from this type of skin disorder. Using mild soaps without added perfumes may help to prevent irritation.

Exogenous vulvar dermatitis is caused by allergic reactions or sensitivities to certain chemicals or other substances that come into contact with the sensitive vaginal area. This can cause a rash as well as swelling and flaking of the skin. Different substances can trigger an episode of vulvar dermatitis in different women. Common triggers include soaps, lotions, and latex. Eliminating as many triggers as possible can lengthen the amount of time between outbreaks.


Some women with vulvar dermatitis find they cannot tolerate vaginal lubricants or contraceptives and may also be sensitive to condoms, particularly those made from latex. If this is a problem, a gynecologist can help to decide upon alternate methods of contraception. Unfortunately, some women are also sensitive to bodily fluids such as semen. These concerns should be addressed with a doctor.

The amount of itching with this skin condition can become quite intense. It is very important that the patient does not scratch the area if at all possible. Scratching can cause further irritation and allow harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream, possibly leading to infection. Doctors will often perform tests to verify that the condition is actually a form of dermatitis instead of something more serious, such as cancer.

Topical estrogen creams are often prescribed to treat the symptoms of this condition. However, as estrogen is a natural female hormone, it could possibly cause adverse reactions when used on young girls. For this reason, girls should be carefully monitored by a physician when using this type of medication. If the patient develops recurrent outbreaks, the doctor may prescribe a type of steroid cream instead of using a hormonal cream.


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Post 3

I've noticed that sweat makes dermatitis and eczema symptoms worse. My dermatitis is doing a lot better since I've started using fragrance-free baby powder down there. It relieves the itch too.

Post 2

@fBoyle-- Mine disappeared when I switched to all hypoallergenic products. There are so many possible irritants out there that might be triggering your dermatitis. The laundry detergent you're using, contraceptives, the type of fabric of your underwear, your body wash, even your toilet paper can cause it.

I suggest switching to all mild products without perfumes or harsh chemicals in them. You need to use organic soap, and perfume-free laundry detergent. Don't use underwear that's not 100% cotton. Don't use lubricants and contraceptives with chemicals and perfumes.

Post 1

I have vulvar dermatitis, it's a very irritating condition. I can't figure out what is causing mine. I have followed all of my doctor's recommendations and have eliminated possible irritants. I used estrogen cream, it didn't work and now I'm on steroid cream. The steroid cream doesn't seem to be working either.

Is anyone else suffering from this? Has anyone found a vulvar dermatitis treatment that eliminates the condition entirely?

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