Genital Rash | Possible Reasons
Genital rash refers to onset of bumps or skin lesions on the private parts of the body. It is imperative to mention that genital rash is not a disease per se. In other words, genital rash is a symptom that is suggestive of an ongoing pathological process and may culminate in complications if not addressed appropriately.
Classic symptoms of genital rash are largely dependent on the causative agent. Most common symptoms are:
- Appearance of bumps, raised lesions, sores, scales or blisters on the skin that are suggestive of skin irritation, inflammation or infection
- Changes in the color of skin; ranging from reddish, pink to silvery or yellow
- Redness or inflammation of surrounding area
- Thickening of skin
- Burning micturition
- Discharge from the genitals
- Pelvic or inguinal pain
- Excessive itching in the genital area
- Pain during intercourse
- If genital rash is due to parasites, you may see small insects crawling under the pubic hair)
- Enlargement of draining lymph nodes
What Are Some Common Causes Of Genital Rash?
The etiology of genital rash can be infectious or non-infectious. However, it is imperative to mention that more than 80% cases of adult genital rash in clinical practice are due to sexually transmitted diseases. Most common STIs presenting with genital rash are:
- Human papilloma virus (HPV)
- Vaginal yeast infection
The appearance of rash can help a great deal in making preliminary diagnosis. For example, rash of syphilis is characterized by appearance of a red, solitary and painless sore in the genital region within a few days of exposure to the pathogen. Herpes rash appear in painful, itchy and red blisters that appear in clusters. Molluscum Contagiosum rash is flesh colored bumps with waxy center.
Most non-infectious cases of genital rash are due to allergy or contact dermatitis and psoriasis. Diaper rash is the most common cause of genital rash in babies due to colonization of yeast in the genital area. Other common causes include:
- Lichen simplex chronicus – a chronic dermatological condition marked by thickening of skin surface.
- Tinea cruris – a fungal infection that is also known as ringworm of the groin.
- Balanitis – a condition marked by inflammation of the head of penis due to improper hygiene in the foreskin region.
- Atopic dermatitis or other allergic reactions as a result of exposure to chemical irritants, such as douches, creams, perfumes, lubricants, soaps, feminine hygiene products etc.
- Folliculitis – onset of irritation due to ingrown hair mostly after pubic hair shaving.
- Scabies – caused by a small mite that lives under the skin and cause intense itching and irritation of skin.
- Reiter syndrome – characterized by rash, sores and arthritis.
- Body lice – caused by small parasites that feeds off human blood and presents with itching and rash.
- Eczema – an allergic condition of skin that is specific for dryness, itching and peeling of skin.
What To Do If You Have Rash On Genitals?
If rash is due to sexually transmitted diseases; your doctor may advise few tests to confirm the etiological agent. Besides taking appropriate antibiotics or antiviral agent, it is highly recommended to follow these simple tips as well:
- It is very important to maintain caution and care in the maintenance of sexual relations especially in case of chance encounters. Always practice protection (such as condoms) to minimize the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
- Make sure to seek immediate help if you are experiencing rash, itching or abnormal discharge from genitals. In most cases, appropriate antibiotics (or topical solutions) can help in clearing the rash and resolving the symptoms.
- Notify your partner and practice abstinence until you are completely cleared of infection.
In situations when you are experiencing genital rash due to non-infectious reasons; such as allergy or contact dermatitis, your doctor will advise you appropriate medications (anti-allergy ointments and topical steroids). Besides, following these tips can also help in reducing the intensity of symptoms:
- Maintain optimal physical and genital hygiene.
- Use medicated soaps and special preparations if your rash is due to scabies or pubic lice.
- Identify allergens that are causing skin reaction or rash.
- Avoid excessive dryness of skin. Make sure to apply lotion or skin moisturizer to prevent scaling or thickening of skin.
1. Butler, S. M., Smith, N. K., Collazo, E., Caltabiano, L., & Herbenick, D. (2015). Pubic Hair Preferences, Reasons for Removal, and Associated Genital Symptoms: Comparisons Between Men and Women. The journal of sexual medicine, 12(1), 48-58.
2. Erdmann, N., Hewitt, B. A., Atkinson, T. P., & Van Wagoner, N. (2015, September). Disseminated Primary Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection in a 22-Year-Old male. In Open forum infectious diseases (Vol. 2, No. 3, p. ofv092). Oxford University Press.
3. Harper, J., & Zirwas, M. (2015). Allergic Contact Dermatitis of the Vagina and Perineum: Causes, Incidence of, and Differentiating Factors. Clinical obstetrics and gynecology, 58(1), 153-157.