Vulvar dystrophy is a condition that is caused by an abnormal growth of skin on the vulva. It may be due to squamous cell hyperplasia or lichen simplex chronicus. These gray or white patches of thickened skin can cause the vaginal opening to become smaller and may increase the likelihood of pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Patients with vulvar dystrophy may experience symptoms including:
- Gray or white skin on one side of the vulva
- Scaling, cracking, and bleeding of the vulva
- Sores on the vaginal area
- Painful intercourse
To diagnose vulvar dystrophy, patients are encouraged to visit Dr. Gandhi of Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology to discuss the symptoms they are experiencing. A physical examination will assist him in providing an accurate diagnosis of this condition. Urinary tests may be completed to rule out conditions that can cause similar symptoms, including yeast infections, which can cause discomfort in the vaginal area. In some cases, when a more definitive diagnosis is necessary, a biopsy may be completed and a sample of the vulvar tissue is sent to a lab for further evaluation.
When a patient has been diagnosed with vulvar dystrophy, treatment may be required for the long-term to reduce discomfort. Creams and ointments can be applied to the area, and medications such as Amitriptyline can be taken in the evening to reduce itchiness at night. Irritants and allergens should be avoided in the area, and sitz baths may be helpful in minimizing symptoms.
Good care of the vaginal area can reduce symptoms and relieve irritation associated with vulvar dystrophy. Patients should bathe with unscented soaps and rinse the genital area thoroughly, patting dry without rubbing the vulva. The genital area should be kept dry at all times, and fabrics such as cotton are recommended to allow the area to breathe. Scented products should be avoided, including toilet paper, tampons, laundry detergent, fabric softener, feminine hygiene sprays, powders, and bubble baths with soaps. Spermicides can also irritate the area, so an alternative form of birth control should be considered during sexual intercourse.