Female Genital Sores
STIs (sexually transmitted infections), particularly herpes, are very frequently associated with an increased likelihood of developing genital sores in women. These infections are characterized by appearance of bumps and lumps that are formed around the vaginal area and may cause tenderness, pain, itchiness and vaginal discharge.
What Causes Female Genital Sores?
STIs are the infections that are spread via genital secretions or physical contact during an unprotected sexual encounter. Following infections are considered to aggravate the risk of genital sores in females:
- Genital herpes: This infection results in the formation of ulcers or blisters on the genital region. In USA, most cases of genital sores are a result of genital herpes. 90% of the HSV-1 and HSV2 (herpes simplex virus) carriers exhibit no noticeable symptoms. However, in case of a genital herpes outbreak, single or multiple lesions may occur around the rectum or genital region. Although these lesions may be painless but may cause pain if blisters or lesions burst. The infection lasts the life time as Herpes virus resides in the nerves (and is not curable by any drug). Having sex during an outbreak can serve as the spreading medium for the viral transmission to healthy contacts.
- Chancroid: It is a bacterial STI that is characterized by sporadic outbreaks along with ulceration and excruciating pain. The symptoms alleviate after initiating the treatment whereas the infection usually disappears by the seventh day of therapy. Healing time may extend up to 14 days for ulcers that are bigger in size.
- Granuloma Inguinale: It is also a bacterial STI characterized by the formation of bleeding ulcers with a dark red discoloration. They usually cause no pain.
- Molluscum contagiosum: It is characterized as a superficial skin infection that is highly contagious in nature and may causes tiny bumps or lesions along the lower abdomen, groin, buttocks and thighs. The lesions may last up to a couple of weeks to a month.
- Syphilis: It is a bacterial infection that causes rashes and ulcers in the area around the genitals. The infection can be taken care of by a Penicillin G course.
- Genital warts: This infection is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). The lesions caused by HPV are not always visible. On hairy skin, the warts may appear firm but on a smooth skin, they may appear as soft. Warts that are large in size requires surgical removal.
STIs can be prevented by practicing safe sex. For example, always make sure to use a latex condom in case of chance encounters. Having sex during an outbreak should be avoided by all means.
Other Contributing Factors
- Non-sexually acquired genital ulceration (NSAGU): These sores may result from fluctuation in the hormonal levels, deficiency of certain vitamins or Crohn’s disease. These sores are rather very painful and may be observed as one or more round shallow sores. The sores tend to cause the swelling of the genital region.
- Contact dermatitis: It is an inflammatory condition which occurs in response to an allergic reaction to certain products.
- Varicosities: It is a condition that is characterized by the clustered swollen veins which may appear around the vagina and vulva. The sores are usually observed during pregnancy and can be taken care of by cold therapy, swimming and support garments.
Physical exams and other tests recommended by the doctor can help in identifying the primary cause of the genital sores. Your doctor may need to collect the blood samples to rule out other factors.
Herpes is a chronic condition whereas other conditions may resolve over time such as contact dermatitis.
- Wagner, N. (2015). Female genital cutting and long-term health consequences–nationally representative estimates across 13 countries. The Journal of Development Studies, 51(3), 226-246.
- LeGoff, J., Roques, P., Jenabian, M. A., Charpentier, C., Brochier, C., Bouhlal, H., … & Belec, L. (2015). Variability of human immunodeficiency virus-1 in the female genital reservoir during genital reactivation of herpes simplex virus type 2. Clinical microbiology and infection, 21(9), 873-e1.