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There are many different conditions that can affect your vulva, ranging from mild infections to skin conditions and, very rarely, to cancer. They can all cause very different symptoms, including itching, bleeding, rashes or a lump. It is very important that if you notice any new symptoms or lumps in your vulval region then you see a doctor promptly. Your doctor will be able to examine you and decide which treatment will be appropriate to you. This will depend on the underlying cause of your symptoms.

There are many different conditions that can affect your vulva

There are many different conditions that can affect your vulva

Where is the vulva?

Dr Sarah Jarvis MBE

What are the different types of vulvar problems?

Prof Lesley Regan
  • There are various conditions that can affect your vulva. Some are more serious than others. If you notice a new lump or swelling on your vulva or have any bleeding from around your vulva then you must see a doctor promptly.
  • Most conditions that affect your vulva can be diagnosed by examining you. However, it is sometimes necessary for other tests to be undertaken, eg swabs or a biopsy.
  • The symptoms will depend on the underlying condition. Symptoms may range from pain, itching (pruritus vulvae), and finding a lump to noticing a change in appearance of your vulva. See also the leaflet on Vulvitis.

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Skin conditions

  • In babies and toddlers wearing nappies, nappy rash can occur and be very irritating and distressing. Nappy rash can lead to the skin of the vulva and the area round the back passage (anus) becoming bright red and very sore.
  • Any skin condition can affect the vulval area too, eg eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus and lichen sclerosus.
  • Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN). This is not vulval cancer but it is a pre-cancerous condition, as VIN (after several years) may develop into vulval cancer in some women.

Lumps in the vulva

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Further reading and references

  • Lawton S; Nappy rash: diagnosis and treatment. J Fam Health Care. 2014 Jul-Aug24(5):36-40.

  • The Management of Vulval Skin Disorders; Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (February 2011)

  • Reyes MC, Cooper K; An update on vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia: terminology and a practical approach to diagnosis. J Clin Pathol. 2014 Apr67(4):290-4. doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2013-202117. Epub 2014 Jan 7.