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Vulvitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 20, 2022

    Vulvitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

    Vulvitis is an inflammation of the female genitalia called the vulva. This constitutes the soft folds of the skin outside the vagina. There is a wide range of factors that can be the underlying cause of vulvitis. Some of these include allergies, infections, or injuries. Accurate diagnosis of the underlying condition of the disease often makes it difficult to treat it effectively. The severity can vary from mild and moderate to severe.

    Vulvitis is an inflammatory condition of the skin on the outer surface of the vulva, female genitalia.


    Vulvitis symptoms vary between individuals. Not all the symptoms mentioned below will appear in all the patients. The possible vulvitis symptoms are as below:

    • Redness in the genital area
    • Extreme and persistent itching
    • Soreness of the affected area
    • Vaginal discharge
    • Transparent, fluid-filled blisters
    • Inflammation of the labia and other parts of the vulva
    • Thick, scaly, or white patches on the vulva


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

  • Perfumed toilet paper
  • Toilet paper with dyes
  • Soaps or bubble baths with perfume
  • Soaps, body washes, bubble baths, shampoos, and hair conditioners
  • Vaginal sprays, deodorants, and powders
  • Using underwear made of synthetic fiber 
  • Frequent rubbing against a bike seat
  • Riding a horse
  • Swimming pool water
  • Prolonged use of wet swimming suit
  • Douching
  • Spermicides
  • Infections caused by pubic lice or scabies
  • Laundry detergents
  • Risk Factors

    Below are the common risk factors of the medical condition:

    • Women with certain hypersensitivities, allergic reactions, infections, or health conditions are at a higher risk of vulvitis.
    • Those with reduced estrogen levels.
    • Women may develop the condition before puberty and after menopause.



    The diagnostic process for vulvitis involves physical examination, investigating the medical history of the patient, followed by medical examinations. Here is the expected process in detail:

    Physical examination: Your doctor is expected to conduct a thorough close examination based on your symptoms. 

    Investigating the medical history: Your doctor is expected to enquire about your complete personal medical history. This implies your ongoing medical conditions as well as those that you may have had in the past. This will enable them to analyze whether any of these health conditions are an underlying cause of your existing symptoms. Your doctor is also likely to ask about your family history of medical conditions to gauge if the present symptoms can be related to any of these genetic conditions. 

    Let your doctor know about the medications that you might be taking currently or may have taken in the recent past. There are certain drugs that may interact adversely and cause certain ill effects.

    Such medications include prescription medications, non-prescription or OTC (over-the-counter) drugs, herbals, vitamins, and supplements. Your doctor will evaluate if the medications that you are taking may have triggered your symptoms. Remember to carry your medical history, i.e., prescriptions. Your doctor is likely to take a thorough look at your personal medical history and prescribed medications that you are taking now or have taken in the past. 

    Also, let your doctor know about any known history of hypersensitivity or allergies that you may have. This is necessary for him/her to analyze whether your current symptoms are an allergic reaction. 

    Medical tests: Below are the diagnostic tests that the doctor can recommend based on his/her medical evaluation:

    • Urine tests
    • Blood tests
    • Tests for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
    • Pap test, which involves close examination of the cervical cells from the sample collected during the test. The transformation that these cells may have undergone may help in diagnosing the presence of cancer or indicate the impending risk of cancer growth. The test may also be beneficial for detecting the prevalence of inflammations and infections.


    Vulvitis treatment is determined by various factors like the type and severity of the condition, and the age and medical history of the patient. Considering the underlying cause of the condition is also an indispensable part of deciding on a suitable vulvitis treatment. The treatment options include:

    • Doctors may refrain from recommending any treatment, and instead, may choose to keep the patient under watch and monitor whether the condition worsens. Till then, the only advice is usually to avoid irritants and observe if it is effective in helping the area heal naturally.
    • Sitz baths with soothing substances to keep itching in check.
    • Cortisone creams like hydrocortisone ointment, trimovate cream, or daktacort ointment 
    • Estrogen cream

    Lifestyle Changes

    After the affected area has been effectively treated, use warm water along with an emollient to wash the area during baths. Avoid applying chemical-laden soaps and body washes to clean the area.

    Home Remedies

    Add 4 tbsp of baking soda to a bathtub of warm water and sit in the tub for about 10 minutes. Repeat this twice every day for 2 days. This is usually effective in removing residues of soap that may have been left behind in the genital area. This home remedy also accelerates the healing process.

    Learn more about women’s health issues here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 20, 2022

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