JOURNAL ARTICLE

Common Benign Chronic Vulvar Disorders

Nancy E Ringel, Cheryl Iglesia
American Family Physician 2020 November 1, 102 (9): 550-557
33118795
Common benign chronic vulvar conditions include genitourinary syndrome of menopause (formerly called vulvovaginal atrophy), lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, lichen simplex chronicus, and vulvodynia. Genitourinary syndrome of menopause results from the hypoestrogenic state that leads to atrophy of normal vulvar and vaginal tissues. It is typically treated with lubricants, moisturizers, and intravaginal estrogen. Lichen sclerosus is an inflammatory condition characterized by intense vulvar itching. It is treated with topical steroids or, in some cases, topical calcineurin inhibitors. Patients with lichen sclerosus are at risk of vulvar squamous cell carcinoma and should be monitored closely for malignancy. Lichen planus is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that can affect the vulva and vagina in addition to other skin and mucosal surfaces. The first-line treatment is topical steroids, and significant scarring can occur if left untreated. Lichen simplex chronicus manifests as persistent itching and scratching of the vulvar skin that leads to thickened epithelium. Breaking the itch-scratch cycle, often with topical steroids, is the key to treatment. Vulvodynia is a common vulvar pain disorder and is a diagnosis of exclusion. A multimodal treatment approach typically includes vulvar hygiene, physical therapy, psychosocial interventions, and antineuropathy medications.

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