What is vulvar dermatitis?

Vulvar Dermatitis
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Vulvar dermatitis: Overview

Vulvar dermatitis happens when the vulva becomes red, painful, and itchy. Dermatitis can be caused by heat or wetness or can be a reaction to scented soaps, powders, creams, toilet paper, spermicides, or clothing. A skin condition, such as eczema, also can cause dermatitis. Your doctor may do tests to find out what is causing your symptoms.

You can treat symptoms of vulvar dermatitis with medicine and home treatment. Try not to scratch your rash. Scratching can make the rash last longer or get worse.

How can you care for yourself when you have vulvar dermatitis?

  • Use your medicine exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. Tell your doctor if you are taking other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
  • Wash your vulva no more than once a day. Use cool water with or without unscented soap. Pat dry or use a hair dryer on a low setting.
  • Do not have sex until you feel better.
  • Do not douche or use powders or sprays in your vagina or on your vulva.
  • Try not to scratch. Use a cold pack or a cool bath to treat itching.
  • If itching affects your sleep, ask your doctor if you can take an antihistamine that might reduce itching and make you sleepy, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Try sleeping without underwear.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing. Do not wear nylon or other materials that hold body heat and moisture close to the skin.

Vulvar dermatitis: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge that smells bad.
  • You have burning or pain when you urinate.
  • You have increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in your vagina or vulva.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your rash spreads.
  • You have new or increased pain in your vagina or vulva.
  • You have new or increased itching from your vagina or vulva.
  • You do not feel better after 2 or 3 days.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.