Vulvar psoriasis is both uncomfortable and embarrassing for women, but with the right treatment, the condition can be managed.
Understanding Vulvar Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin on various parts of the body. Even though there is a genetic component to psoriasis, not every person who inherits the genes linked to the disease actually gets it.
Symptoms of Vulvar Psoriasis
There are many different types of psoriasis, each with its own distinct characteristics. Inverse psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis in the genital region Typically, it presents as bright red shiny patches of skin and is found on the upper thighs, in the creases between the thigh and groin, around the anus, in the pubic area and even on the genitals. Inverse psoriasis can also develop in skin folds of the armpits, under the breasts and on the buttocks.
The scaling seen with many types of psoriasis is not usually present in inverse psoriasis since constant friction between the two skin parts rubs away the scales. However, genital psoriasis does cause itching, dryness and skin thickening. Scratching can cause the itch to intensify and may even lead to skin breaks and infection.
Treatment of Vulvar Psoriasis
Genital or vulvar psoriasis often responds positively to treatment, but care should be taken to avoid damaging the sensitive genital skin. Harsh or highly concentrated preparations are not recommended. Treatment is tailored to the individual since no one therapy works for everyone.
Your gynecologist will likely prescribe a low-strength topical steroid cream or ointment to treat your vulvar psoriasis. Corticosteroid preparations should be limited to short term use, since they can permanently thin the skin. Low dose ultraviolet light may also be beneficial.
If you have genital or vulvar psoriasis, talk with your OBGYN about steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of flare-ups. Keep the area clean and dry and avoid clothing that rubs or causes irritation. Opt for unscented soaps and lotions and use lubricants to reduce friction during sexual intercourse.
Psoriasis does not usually cause sexual dysfunction, but it is common for women with genital psoriasis to experience difficulty with intimacy. Talk openly with your partner about your condition and explain that psoriasis cannot be passed on to others.
Working with your gynecologist to better understand psoriasis and how to manage it will help in dealing with the disease.