Vulvitis in Teens
What is vulvitis?
Vulvitis is simply an inflammation of the vulva, the soft folds of skin outside the vagina. This is not a condition. It is a symptom that results from a host of diseases, infections, injuries, allergies, and other irritants. Diagnosing and treating this condition can be frustrating because it is often difficult to determine the specific cause of the irritation.
What causes vulvitis?
Vulvitis may be caused by 1, or more, of the following:
Scented or colored toilet paper
Perfumed soaps or bubble baths
Shampoos and hair conditioners
Laundry detergents (especially enzyme-activated "cold water" formulas)
Vaginal sprays, deodorants, and powders
Contraceptive creams, jellies, foams, nonoxynol-9, lubricants
Sanitary products, including tampons and pads
Tea tree oil
Topical medicines used to treat genital warts
Hot tub and swimming pool water
Synthetic undergarments without a cotton crotch
Rubbing against a bicycle seat
Wearing a wet bathing suit for a long period of time
Infections, like pubic lice (pediculosis) or mites (scabies)
Infections, like fungal, trichomonal, herpes, syphilis, HPV, mulloscum contagiosum
Dermatoses, like psoriasis as well as others that are less common
Who is at risk for vulvitis?
Any female with certain allergies, sensitivities, infections, or diseases can develop vulvitis. Girls who have not yet reached puberty and postmenopausal women sometimes develop vulvitis, possibly because of inadequate levels of estrogen.
What are the symptoms of vulvitis?
The following are the most common symptoms for vulvitis. However, each adolescent may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of vulvitis may include:
Redness and swelling on the labia and other parts of the vulva
Clear, fluid-filled blisters. These are present when the vulva is particularly irritated.
Sore, scaly, thickened, or whitish patches. These are more prevalent in chronic vulvitis) on the vulva.
The symptoms of vulvitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your teen's health care provider for a diagnosis.
How is vulvitis diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for vulvitis may include the following:
Treatment for vulvitis
Specific treatment for vulvitis will be determined by your teen's health care provider based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Severity of the symptoms
Cause of the condition
Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
Self-help measures (like avoiding external irritants known to provoke vulvitis)
Sitz baths with soothing compounds (to help control the itching)
Topical medicines, like steroid creams or antifungal creams aimed at the offending cause
Oral medicines aimed at the offending cause
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Last Review Date: 05/12/2015
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