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Sores or Leisions on the Female Genitals, Genital Lesions
Female Genital Sores

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Definition

Genital sores are lesions that appear on the external genitalia women i.e. vulva, clitoris, vaginal opening. These sores may appear inside the vagina as well.

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Causes

  • Benign cysts
  • Genital warts caused by Human Papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Skin cancers like melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma
  • Vulvar dysplasia or precancerous (dysplastic) changes of the vulva
  • Vaginal yeast infection caused by Candida
  • Genital herpes caused by Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Trichomonas vaginalis
  • Gonorrhea caused by gonococcus (bacteria)
  • Syphilis caused by Treponema pallidum
  • Traumatic injury such as falling on a hard or sharp object.
  • Forced or violent intercourse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Lichen planus
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Vitiligo
  • Eczema
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Food allergies that may be caused by shellfish, nuts may cause hives (urticaria)
  • Allergies e.g. latex allergy, chemicals found in bubble baths, soaps, perfumes or douches
  • Chancroid
  • Non-specific vulvovaginitis
  • Granuloma inguinale
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Medical conditions like Crohn's disease

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Symptoms

  • Leision on the external genitalia which may be:
    • Single or multiple leisions
    • Pustule
    • Papule
    • Nodule
    • Open ulcer
    • Scaling or crusting.
    • Hives or blisters
    • Pinpoint or larger red or purple spots
    • Bruise
    • Sharp or ill defined, irregular margins
    • White, red or brown patches on the vulva
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Rashes on the labia (labia majora and labia minora) and vaginal opening
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Discharge from the leision
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
    • Foul smelling
    • Thick or thin
    • Greenish, brownish, yellowish or white in color
  • Painful urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse

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Implications

Sores or lesions on the female genitalia may be due to several causes. Most of the leisions like venereal warts, syphilis, genital herpes, chancroid, molluscum contagiosum and granuloma inguinale are sexually transmitted and cause cause visible leisions. These sores are contagious and can be transmitted easily through person to person contact. Pre-cancerous changes of the vulva (vulvar dysplasia) may appear and are often accompanied by itching and white patches or plaques. The vulva can also develop skin cancers such as melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Non-sexually transmitted diseases may also produce sores on the genitalia. Common disorders are skin conditions such as lichen planus, seborrheic dermatitis and vitiligo. Having sores on the genitals can be embarrassing and can often adversely affect a person's self-image and self confidence. These sores can be a source of persistent discomfort and may result in superimposed bacterial infection due to scratching. However, these leisions should be evaluated and treated promptly as they may be caused by a disease condition which can be completely treatable.

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What You Can Do

  • Consult your physician immediately as self treatment may only mask the symptoms and make the condition worse or resistant to treatment.

  • Oral antibiotics for leisions caused by bacteria

  • Oral antifungal medications for sores caused by fungi like candida

  • Topical antibiotics, antifungal creams, antibacterial creams or a cream containing cortisone may be used to relieve some of the irritation.

  • Antihistamines and/or hypnotics can be useful to relieve the symptom of itching.

  • Practice good hygienic habits like:
    • Take a bath or a shower daily.
    • Use soap and water to wash yourself
    • Pay special attention to your groin and genital area especially when you are menstruating
    • Change your under garments daily.
    • Wash them them with warm water and detergent before reusing them
    • Wear proper fitting, adequately absorbent, cotton underwear or an underwear that has a cotton lining in the crotch area. This allows greater air flow and decreases the amount of moisture in the area.
    • Wipe the toilet seat before using it, preferably use a toilet seat cover and discard it after use.
    • Wipe the perineal area from front to the back each time you use the bathroom.

  • A sitz bath may relieve itching and crusting.

  • Moist lesions can be dried by using a heat lamp.

  • For the sores that may be caused by a sexually transmitted disease, the sexual partner should be treated as well.

  • Sexual activity should be discontinued until the lesions are no completely treated and no longer contagious.

  • Consult your physician if the leisions are not responding to the treatment and are either spreading or increasing in size.

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Female Genital Sores