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Genital skin problems


Genital skin problems are very common and can cause a lot of itching or pain, distressing and embarrassing. They can interfere with sexual functioning, self-image, and interpersonal relationships. Some genital disorders are contagious, including sexually transmitted diseases.

This page provides links to information on DermNet NZ about skin conditions affecting the genital area.

  • Genital itching in males.
  • Genital pain in males.
  • Genital itching in women
  • Genital pain in women.
  • Vaginal download
  • Non-sexually transmitted skin infections affecting the genital area (men and women)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (men and women)
  • Genital skin lesions (men and women).
  • Diagnosis of genital conditions.

  • Treatment of genital conditions.

Genital itching in males.

  • Pruritus ani (itchy anus)
  • Balanitis (inflammation glans of the penis in men)
  • Dermatitis (eczema), including:

    • Lichen simplex (dermatitis due to located itch-scratch-itch response and result in thickened skin in the scrotum)

    • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
    • Seborrheic dermatitis (usually also affects the scalp)
    • Irritating contact dermatitis (from moisture, incontinence, vigorous cleaning) the most common cause of nonspecific balanitis (in men)
    • Intertrigo (in skin folds)
    • Allergic contact dermatitis (most often due to fragrances, preservatives, or rubber)

Genital pain in males.

  • Balanitis (inflammation of the tip of the penis)

  • Behcet's disease
  • Erosive lichen planus (which often affects the mouth as well)
  • Plasma cellular balanitis
  • Fixed drug eruption
  • Crohn's disease, which can cause swelling, ulcers and granulomas

  • Pudendal nerve entrapment syndrome
  • Dysesthesia and / or burning (and less often itchy) discomfort of the penis (penodynia) and / or scrotum (scrotodynia) in the absence of primary skin problem. The affected area is often redder than normal.

Genital itching in women

  • Itchy anus (anal itching)

  • Itching vulva (vulvar itching) in adult women

  • Itching of the vulva (vulvar itching) in prepubertal girls

  • Dermatitis (eczema), which includes:

    • Lichen simplex (dermatitis due to a localized itch-scratch-itch response that produces thickened skin on the labia majora

    • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

    • Seborrheic dermatitis (usually also affects the scalp)

    • Irritant contact dermatitis (from moisture, incontinence, vigorous cleaning) (incontinence-associated dermatitis)

    • The most common cause of vulvitis
    • Intertrigo (in skin folds)

    • Allergic contact dermatitis (most often due to fragrances, preservatives, or rubber)

  • Psoriasis (persistent, well defined, Red, scaly or wet patches)

  • Lichen sclerosus (patches with white scars)

  • Lichen planus

Genital pain in women.

  • Dyspareunia (painful sex)
  • Recurrent fissure of later Fourchette
  • Atrophic vulvovaginitis
  • Not sexually acquired acute recurring genitalia ulceration (complex recurrent aphthous ulceration)
  • Acute reactive genital ulceration not sexually acquired

  • Behcet's disease
  • Erosive lichen planus (which often affects the mouth as well)

  • Plasma cell vulvitis
  • Fixed drug eruption
  • Desquamative vaginitis
  • Crohn's disease, which can cause swelling, ulcers, and granulomas.

  • Pudendal nerve entrapment syndrome
  • Spasms in the pelvic muscles that lead to vaginismus.
  • When a cause for vulvar pain has not been found, the term vulvodynia is sometimes used. This has been classified into provoked localized vulvodynia (or vestibulodynia) and generalized spontaneous vulvodynia (dysesthetic vulvodynia or neuropathic pain).

Vaginal discharge

  • Vaginitis
  • Bad vaginal or genital odor
  • Non-sexually transmitted skin infections
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Desquamative vaginitis

Non-sexually transmitted skin infections

Non-venereal skin infections can occur in the genital area, probably because organisms prosper in heat and humidity.

Bacterial infection

Bacterial skin infections include:

  • Boils (deep infection of hair follicles)

  • Folliculitis (superficial infection of hair follicles)

  • Impetigo (school sores)

  • Erythrasma (dry brown patches)

  • Cutaneous tuberculosis (rare)
  • Bacterial vaginosis (cause of foamy discharge).

Fungal infections

Fungal skin infections include:

  • Ringworm (jock itch)

  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis (thrush).

Viral infections

Viral skin infections include:

  • Genital herpes, the most common cause of recurrent blisters or sores.

  • Genital warts, the most common cause of papules in this region

  • Herpes zoster (shingles)

  • Molluscum contagiosum.


The groin is also a favorite site for some parasitic infestations:

  • Pubic lice
  • Scabies
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Amebiasis
  • Filariasis
  • Leishmaniasis

Sexually transmitted infections

Major sexually transmitted infections (STIs) include:

  • Syphilis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Venereal lymphogranuloma
  • Chancroid
  • Granuloma inguinal (donovanosis)
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Molluscum contagiosum.

Genital skin lesions.

Noninfectious skin lesions and various conditions commonly found in the genital area include:

  • Vulvar skin lesions
  • Angiokeratomas (red / purple spots)
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa (boiling-like lumps in the skin folds)

  • Hailey Hailey (blisters on skin folds)

  • Lip adhesions in prepubertal girls.
  • Lip adhesions in adults
  • Sebaceous adenitis (inflamed papules on the labia minora)
  • Miliapillar and epidermal cysts
  • Intraepithelial vulval neoplasm or VIN (also called vulva scaly cell carcinoma in the place), which includes bowenoid papulosis

  • Intraepithelial neoplasm of the penis or PIN (also called squamous cell carcinoma of the penis in situ, Bowen's disease of the penis, Quyerat's erythroplasia)

  • Anal intraepithelial neoplasia or AIN (also called anal squamous cell carcinoma in situ)

  • Invader squamous cell carcinoma including vulva Cancer and anal cancer (arising from genital warts). Vulvar cancer can also arise from lichen sclerosus or lichen planus)
  • Extramammary Paget's disease
  • Genital melanotic macules or melanosis (harmless brown marks where there is more pigment in the skin cells)
  • Mucous membrane melanoma (a rare form of skin cancer in which there is an uncontrolled disease proliferation pigment cells)
  • Pearly penile papules
  • Peyronie's disease, in which a fibrous band appears on the penis.

How are genital disorders diagnosed?

A careful history and a thorough examination of the skin, including genital skin, is recommended. Tests often include:

  • Swabs from affected skin, urethra, or vagina bacteria, yeast and virus culture
  • Blood test
  • Skin biopsy.

How are genital disorders treated?

Treatment depends on the individual condition.

The genital skin is delicate, so the treatment must be carried out with care. Wash once or twice a day with warm water. Avoid soap; a pH A balanced soap-free cleaner can be used, but must be rinsed.