Vulvar Dermatoses: A Primer for the Sexual Medicine Clinician

Susan Kellogg Spadt, Elizabeth Kusturiss
Sexual Medicine Reviews 2015, 3 (3): 126-136

INTRODUCTION: Vulvar dermatoses are common dermatological conditions that affect the vulva, and can cause considerable pain, irritation, pruritus, and burning, and have an adverse impact on a woman's sexual function.

AIM: To provide an overview of the clinical features, etiology, and management options for the common vulvar dermatoses, including lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, lichen simplex, contact dermatitis, and vulvar psoriasis, and briefly describe the impact of vulvar dermatoses on sexual function.

METHODS: The key words "vulvar dermatoses," "lichen sclerosus," "lichen planus," "lichen simplex chronicus," "vulvar dermatitis," and "vulvar psoriasis," were utilized to search Medline and PubMed for articles, with special attention given to those published within the past 5 years.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Five hundred thirty-six results were generated from the literature search. Publications that were judged current and relevant to the pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of vulvar dermatoses were included in the review.

RESULTS: Fifty-seven articles were selected for inclusion in this review.

CONCLUSIONS: Vulvar dermatoses can cause chronic pain, itching, and dyspareunia, and can have a profound effect on a woman's sexual expression and comfort. Delay in diagnosis is often due to hesitancy to seek treatment on the part of the patient or delay in biopsy on the part of the provider. This can result in failed prescriptive and self-treatment measures, worsening symptoms, and frustration and sexual dysfunction for the patient, and potentially the development of squamous cell carcinoma. It is imperative for sexual medicine providers, who commonly treat women with vulvar concerns, to be familiar with the presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of common vulvar dermatoses and their effect on sexual function. Kellogg Spadt S and Kusturiss E. Vulvar dermatoses: A primer for the sexual medicine clinician. Sex Med Rev 2015;3:126-136.

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