Treatments

Currently Browsing:Obstetrics & Gynecology

  • Midlife Women's Health Center

    The Massachusetts General Hospital Midlife Women’s Health Center brings together experts from more than 15 specialties to improve, promote and advance health care for women at menopause and beyond through research, collaboration and education.

    Contact us: 617-726-6776

    Watch our 2015 community conference

  • Vulvovaginal Disorders Program

    The Vulvovaginal Disorders Program at Massachusetts General Hospital provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for women with vulvar and vaginal complaints, including pain, infection and irritation.

    Call to request an appointment or refer a patient 617-724-6850

  • Benign Gynecology Program

    The Benign Gynecology Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology delivers compassionate, expert care for the full range of gynecologic issues.

    Request an appointment online

    Call to schedule an appointment or refer a patient 617-724-6850

Currently Browsing:Pediatrics

  • Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine

    Pediatric Patients Only

    The Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at MassGeneral Hospital for Children provides outstanding primary care and consultative care to adolescents and young adults.

    To schedule an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist, please call: 617-643-1201

    For other pediatric specialties, please call: 888-644-3248.

About This Condition

Vulvitis

What is vulvitis?

Vulvitis is an inflammation of the vulva. This is the soft folds of skin outside the vagina. It’s a symptom that can result from an array of diseases. This can include infections, injuries, allergies, or irritants. Because it can be tough to find the exact cause, diagnosing and treating this condition can be difficult.

What causes vulvitis?

Vulvitis may be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Toilet paper with perfume or dye
  • Soaps or bubble baths with perfume
  • Shampoos and hair conditioners
  • Laundry detergents
  • Vaginal sprays, deodorants, and powders
  • Spermicides
  • Douching
  • Hot tub and swimming pool water
  • Underwear made of synthetic material without a cotton crotch
  • Rubbing against a bike seat
  • Wearing a wet bathing suit for a long period
  • Riding a horse
  • Infections such as pubic lice or mites (scabies)

Who is at risk for vulvitis?

Any woman with certain allergies, sensitivities, infections, or diseases can develop vulvitis. Women may develop it before puberty and after menopause. This may be due to a drop in estrogen.

What are the symptoms of vulvitis?

Each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Redness and swelling on the labia and other parts of the vulva
  • Intense itching
  • Clear, fluid-filled blisters
  • Sore, scaly, thick, or white patches on the vulva

The symptoms of vulvitis may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is vulvitis diagnosed?

Along with a complete medical history and physical and pelvic exam, other tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Pap test. This test involves microscopic exam of cells collected from the cervix. It’s used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer. It also shows other conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

How is vulvitis treated?

Specific treatment for vulvitis will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Cause of the disease
  • Type and severity of the symptoms
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Self-help measures (for example, avoiding irritants)
  • Sitz baths with soothing compounds (to help control the itching)
  • Cortisone creams
  • Estrogen cream

Key points

Vulvitis is inflammation of the vulva. It is not a condition, but a symptom with many possible causes. Any woman with certain allergies, sensitivities, infections, or diseases can develop it.

  • Symptoms may include:
    • Redness and swelling on the labia and other parts of the vulva
    • Intense itching
    • Clear, fluid-filled blisters
    • Sore, scaly, thick, or white patches on the vulva
  • Treatment may include:
    • Self-help measures
    • Sitz baths with soothing compounds
    • Cortisone creams
    • Estrogen cream

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.