Aphthous ulcers (aphthae, recurrent aphthous stomatitis or canker sores). Aphthous ulcers occur at some time in 1 in 5 people, most commonly in teenagers and young adults. They are areas of round or oval skin loss on the inner wet surfaces of the mouth or genitalia, such as inside the lips, cheeks or under the tongue. Most aphthous ulcers are recurrent minor aphthous ulcer (recurrent aphthous stomatitis). The cause is unknown but may include stress, injury to the skin, vitamin and mineral deficiency and vary with periods. Sometimes they run in families.
Behcet’s disease is a rare disease with painful mouth and genital ulcers, along with eye, skin and other problems. The cause is thought to be immune. This is rare in the UK but occurs in about 1 in 10 000 people living in the Mediterranean basin, Middle and Far East.
Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema/dermatitis caused by substances that come into direct contact with the skin. There are two types: irritant and allergic. Irritant contact dermatitis can be caused by frequent washing with soaps and detergents. Individuals with atopic dermatitis (an inherited tendency to dermatitis) are more likely to develop this kind of dermatitis.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory condition that most commonly affects the bowel. It causes inflammation of the bowel wall, leading to bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weight loss. Sometimes it causes mouth ulcers.
These are harmless cysts which are quite common. They are hard, yellow and vary in size, feeling like a grain of sand or a pea under the skin. They may discharge and disappear. Sometimes they can occur in clusters.
Genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex viruses, and is caught by skin to skin contact, usually sexual contact, with someone who is infectious. It is a very common infection. There are 2 kinds type 1 or type 2 and in the UK, 70% of adults have type 1 infection and 10% have type 2 and all these people are occasionally infectious to others.
Genital warts are caused by infection with a virus called ‘human papillomavirus’ (HPV). There are over 100 different types of HPV and about 20 of these infect the genital tract. Certain types of HPV cause pre-cancer and cancer of vulva, vagina, cervix and anus but these are different from the types that cause genital warts.
Lichen planus is an inflammatory condition that can result in itchy purplish small bumps affecting the skin. In some cases it can affect the genital area (vulva and/or vagina) and the mouth and then may also cause sore raw areas (ulcers or erosions).
This is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects women and female children and also men and boys. It is commonest in girls before puberty and women after the menopause but can and frequently does, occur at any age. The true incidence of lichen sclerosus (LS) is not known but affects at least one in a thousand women.
Lichen simplex (also known as Lichen Simplex Chronicus) is a severe form of eczema or dermatitis and is a very itchy condition which may affect just one area of the vulva although it can be more widespread and affect other areas such as the nape of the neck, the skin around the anus or the leg.
Paget’s disease of the vulval skin is a cancer of cells from the skin glands (adenocarcinoma in situ) that has not yet invaded beyond the skin, and may be linked to a cancer nearby. It is uncommon. More information is available at http://www.vulvapagetssupport.org
Psoriasis is a very common skin disease affecting about 2% of the population. It may involve the genital skin as part of more generalised psoriasis, but can occur only in flexural areas for example the groins and armpits. The skin becomes inflamed and itchy. It may be sore if cracks occur.
Allergy to seminal fluid is rare. Symptoms of irritation, burning, soreness or swelling occur during or soon after ejaculation and usually last 2-3 days. More severe reactions, such as swelling of the lips and eyelids or difficulty in breathing, are much less common. Some women experience symptoms the first time they have sex whilst others may only develop a reaction after years of ‘uneventful’ sex.
Syphilis is a serious sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria, Treponema pallidum. It is rare with 291 cases in England in women in 2010. There are a number of different stages and the patient may have a wide range of symptoms including a painless genital sore or lumps, generalised rash, ulcers in the mouth or swollen lymph glands. Many years later serious brain or heart disease may develop.
The words eczema and dermatitis mean the same thing. They refer to inflammation in the top layer (epidermis) of the skin. This can make the skin dry, itchy, red, broken and sore. There are several different types of eczema including atopic, seborrhoeic and the severe form lichen simplex and allergic contact dermatitis.
VIN (Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, vulval precancer, vulval dysplasia) is a condition affecting the vulval and skin around the anus which is the skin equivalent of an abnormal cervical smear, abnormal cells are found in the top layer of the skin and have not yet invaded beyond the skin.
Vulvodynia has been defined by the International Society for the Study of Vulval diseases as vulval discomfort, most often described as a burning pain, occurring in the absence of relevant visible findings or a specific, clinically identifiable, neurologic disorder. Patients can be further classified by the anatomical site of the pain (e.g. generalized vulvodynia, hemivulvodynia, clitorodynia) and also by whether pain is provoked or unprovoked.