Vaginal rash

Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017

Vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina that typically results in itching, discharge, and pain, is often identified as a reddish rash by women. These rashes may be accompanied bumps and sores. These can also be painful or itchy.

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Vaginal rashes can also occur around the labia, clitoris, and the vaginal opening for some women. If left untreated, vaginal rashes can lead to more serious complications, depending on the root cause.

Can an STD cause a vaginal rash?

Yes. Getting tested regularly is the best way to stay up-to-date on your sexual health. If you are having unprotected sex or sex with a new partner, STD testing may be the right decision for you.

Most women don’t know that vaginal rashes can be a symptom of chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus type 1 & herpes simplex virus type 2.

Gonorrhea and chlamydia are curable with antibiotics if detected and treated early. As long as it’s treated in the early stages, associated long-term risks with gonorrhea and chlamydia are minimal.

There is not a cure for Herpes 1 & 2. Antiviral medications can help prevent the spread of Herpes 1 & 2 but it is not a 100% guarantee. By taking prescribed medications, using condoms and notifying their partners, women who test positive for herpes 1 & 2 can help reduce the risk of infecting others while being sexually active.

Untreated STDs can cause long term health problems for patients, so it’s important to get tested if you believe you’re at risk.

Before you can discuss treatment options with a doctor, you need to get tested.

Can anything else cause vaginal rashes?

Without diagnostic testing, there are a number of contributing factors that could be giving you vaginal rashes and redness. Getting tested is a helpful option in narrowing down what exactly is causing your vaginal rash and vaginal itching.

Aside from STDs, vaginal itching and associated rashes can be caused by:

  • Yeast infections. Also called vaginal candidiasis, they can cause a rash in the moist skin folds of the vaginal area. These can cause itching, redness, swelling, and a white discharge.
  • Psoriasis. This condition typically appears as raised red or white patches topped with silvery, scaling skin. These patches are typically found on a the elbow, tailbone, scalp, knee, and back. But it can be found in other areas of the body like the vagina.
  • Molluscum contagiosum. This infection spreads due to skin to skin contact. It typically appears as firm, round bumps on the skin. These bumps may be itchy and inflamed for some women.
  • Contact dermatitis. The cause of this skin rash is contact with a certain substance.
  • Eczema. This inflammation of the skin is not caused by an infection, but can be triggered by foods or environmental factors.
  • Bacterial vaginosis. This condition is associated with a bacterial overgrowth in the vagina.
  • Genital warts. Small bumps occur on the genitals.
  • Scabies. This itchy skin condition is caused by tiny mites that burrow into the outer layers of the skin.
  • Chancroid. This venereal infection rarely occurs in the U.S., causing ulceration for the lymph nodes in the groin.
  • Granuloma inguinale. This rare condition is a bacterial disease typically characterized by ulcerative genital lesions.
  • Lymphogranuloma venereum. An uncommon STD caused by rare strains of Chlamydia trachomatis that infect the lymph nodes in the groin area.
  • Folliculitis. This infection affects one or more of the pockets from which hair grows, also called a hair follicle.
  • Vitiligo. An autoimmune disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches.
  • Acanthosis nigricans. A skin condition characterized by dark, velvety patches in body folds and creases.
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa. A chronic skin condition featuring lumps in places such as the armpits or groin.
  • Skin tags. A common skin growth in which a short, narrow stalk sticks out.
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