Vulvitis in Teens

What is vulvitis in teens?

Vulvitis is an inflammation of the vulva. The vulva is the outer part of the female reproductive system. It’s also called the external genitalia. The labia majora and labia minora are 2 folds of skin that are part of the vulva. The outer folds are called the labia majora. The inner folds are called the labia minora.

Vulvitis causes symptoms such as redness, swelling, itching, and pain. It can be caused by diseases, infections, injuries, allergies, and other irritants. It is often hard to find the specific cause of vulvitis.

What causes vulvitis in a teen?

Vulvitis can be caused by the skin reacting to an irritant. Some of these include:

  • Scented or colored toilet paper
  • Perfumed soaps or bubble baths
  • Laundry detergents, especially enzyme-activated cold water formulas
  • Vaginal sprays, deodorants, and powders
  • Spermicides
  • Condoms
  • Contraceptive creams, jellies, foams, nonoxynol-9, lubricants
  • Tampons and pads
  • Antibacterial or anti-fungal cream or ointment
  • Cream or ointment medicine to treat genital warts
  • Douching
  • Hot tub and swimming pool water
  • Horseback riding

It can also be caused by:

  • Infections from pubic lice or mites (scabies) 
  • Infections such as trichomoniasis, herpes, syphilis, HPV, mulloscum contagiosum, and fungal infection
  • Skin problems such as psoriasis
  • Crohn's disease

Which teens are at risk for vulvitis?

A teen is more at risk for vulvitis if she has certain allergies, sensitivities, infections, or diseases that can lead to vulvitis. Girls who have not yet reached puberty and women after menopause are more at risk for vulvitis. This may be because of lower levels of estrogen.

What are the symptoms of vulvitis in a teen?

Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each girl. Symptoms on the vulva can include:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Severe itching
  • Clear, fluid-filled blisters
  • Sore, scaly, thick, or whitish patches

The symptoms of vulvitis can be like other health conditions. Make sure you r child sees her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is vulvitis diagnosed in a teen?

The healthcare provider will ask about your teen’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your teen a physical exam. The physical exam may include a pelvic exam. You teen may also have tests, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine test
  • Tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Small piece of vulva tissue removed for testing (biopsy)

How is vulvitis treated in a teen?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is, and what caused it. Treatment may include:

  • Sitz baths to help soothe itching
  • Cream to soothe irritated skin
  • Steroid or antifungal cream or ointment to treat an infection
  • Medicine taken by mouth (oral) to treat infection or other cause

Your teen will also need to not have contact with any irritants that may have caused the problem.

Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.

How can I help prevent vulvitis in my teen?

Vulvitis caused by irritants can be prevented by not having contact with them.

When should I call my teen’s healthcare provider?

Call the healthcare provider if you have:

  • Symptoms that don’t get better, or get worse
  • New symptoms

Key points about vulvitis in teens

  • Vulvitis is an inflammation of the vulva.
  • Vulvitis causes symptoms such as redness, swelling, itching, and pain.
  • It can be caused by diseases, infections, injuries, allergies, and other irritants.
  • Treatment can include sitz baths and cream or ointment.
  • You should not have contact with any irritants that may have caused the problem.
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