Your Guide to Genital Skin Conditions

What You Need to Know About Skin Disorders that Affect Your Gentialia

Female doctor discussing with a patient
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The genitals are male or female reproductive organs. Since the reproductive organs are in the pelvis, "genital" refers to the internal reproductive organs in the pelvis and the skin at the bottom of the pelvis around the vagina and anus in women and around the penis, scrotum, and anus in men.

Like the rest of the body, the genital area is vulnerable to skin conditions, including genital herpes, genital warts, intertrigo, jock itch and yeast infections.

Other skin conditions that sometimes occur in the genital area include psoriasis, hidradenitis suppurativa and melanoma.

Causes of Genital Rashes

Skin issues related to the genitals can be itchy, painful and embarrassing, but they are actually quite common. There are a number of causes for a genital rash that range from sexually transmitted diseases, to allergic reactions, to infections, to autoimmune disorders. The most common culprits of genital rashes are infections that include jock itch, vaginal yeast infection, diaper rashmolluscum contagiosum and balantis.

There are a number of allergies and autoimmune disorders than can lead to a genital rash. Contact dermatitis is a common rash that occurs when the skin comes in contact with an allergen or irritant, such as latex or harsh chemicals. Psoriasis, lichen planus, and reactive arthritis are other common causes. Genital rashes can also be caused by a parasitic infection, including public lice and scabies.

Sexually transmitted diseases can cause genital rashes and are more likely to occur among those who don't practice safe sex. These include genital herpes, genital warts and syphilis.

Common Genital Skin Conditions

Some level of skin-related immunodeficiency is typically the culprit for a genital skin disorder.

In many cases proper diagnosis and treatment correct the immune dysfunction and strengthen the skin barrier to prevent future infection.

Common Skin Issues Among Women

  • Contact dermatitis is a very common skin condition. There are several triggers that cause contact dermatitis, including a dry climate, fragrances in soaps and other body care products, laundry detergent and fabric softener residue, elastic and latex.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a genital wart infection caused by the HPV particle that compromises the skin's protective barrier. Dysplasia and cancer can occur.
  • Lichen planus is skin disorder that causes increased production of vaginal discharge and white blood cells.
  • Lichen sclerosus is a condition characterized by persistent vaginal itch, making the patient more prone to yeast infection and squamous vulvar cancer.
  • Vaginal yeast infections often occur in conjunction with chronic vulvar eczema. Yeast organisms release proteins that cause an allergic reaction and creates an environment that incubates the infection.

    Common Skin Issues Among Men

    • Balantis is inflammation that affects the head of the penis and/or foreskin. It is most common in uncircumcised men.
    • Contact dermatitis is caused by external triggers like fragrances in body care products, synthetic fabric, laundry detergent and latex products like condoms.
    • Intertrigo is a yeast infection caused by the presence of yeast organisms that thrive in warm, moist environments, including the genital region, the armpits and in fat folds.

    Treating Genital Skin Conditions

    Treatment for genital rashes depends on the cause. In many cases a genital rash itches, which can be treated with an over-the-counter cream, like hydrocortisone. A physician might also prescribe a cream that soothes itching while treating the underlying cause. 

    Sexually transmitted infections like syphillis are treated with antibiotics, and genital warts are treated with prescribed medication. Genital herpes, however, cannot be cured, but rather controlled with medication. Lice can be eradicated with medicated shampoos or body washes, and scabies is remedied with medicated creams.


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