Genital Dermatoses

Genital dermatoses is the term used to describe skin conditions that affect the skin of male and female reproductive organs.


These conditions can be classified according to whether they are venereal, meaning they are sexually-transmitted; or non-venereal.

Some genital dermatoses may be infections, such as scabies or folliculitis; and others may be inflammatory conditions, such as psoriasis or lichen planus; or malignant, such as skin cancers. Some genital dermatoses can be neurological or pain syndrome related.

While genital dermatoses are very common, unfortunately, due to the stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections (STIs); and because many people erroneously confuse the symptoms of a non-venereal condition with venereal conditions, sometimes they go untreated, or patients may attempt to treat conditions themselves, which can result in further complications, or the condition worsening.

If you have any symptoms of genital dermatoses, you should see a doctor, irrespective of your age, or whether you are currently sexually active.

Symptoms of Genital Dermatoses

There are different types of genital dermatoses, each with their own set of symptoms, however some conditions may present similarly to others, and may require additional investigations, such as blood tests or biopsy in order to confirm a diagnosis.

This is why patients should always present to a GP, or to another qualified medical professional (for example, a medically-trained sexual health specialist) in order to confirm a diagnosis and get appropriate medical treatment.

Genital dermatoses may be divided into the following categories;

  • Non-sexually transmitted inflammatory
  • Non-sexually transmitted infectious
  • Sexually transmitted infectious
  • Malignant
  • Neurological or pain syndrome related

It is important to note that some cases of genital dermatoses might be relatively asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show many worrying symptoms until the condition has progressed, or at all. This is why it is essential that patients undergo routine examinations of the genital area as part of their overall health treatment – usually this is performed through the GP.

In patients who are sexually active, it is essential to have regular tests conducted either by the GP, or by a sexual health clinic (most of which are free and very discreet) to ensure that they are being regularly screened, even if they are already using protection such as latex condoms.

Some common symptoms of genital dermatoses can include one or more of the following symptoms;

  • Pruritus (itching);
  • Pain or soreness in the genital region or the surrounding area;
  • Difficulty urinating, or pain or burning during urination;
  • Lesions, spots or lumps;
  • Sores, blisters or ulcers;
  • Discolouration of the skin, especially if it has recently appeared;
  • Dry, crusty or flaky skin;
  • Discharge that is abnormal either in amount, colour, odour or texture;
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

Depending on the type of condition, a patient may need to see another specialist in addition to treating the symptoms occurring on the skin – for example, a patient whose genital dermatoses is part of a neurological condition may also need to consult with a neurologist.

Non-sexually transmitted inflammatory genital dermatoses include;

Non-sexually transmitted infectious genital dermatoses conditions include;

  • Boils
  • Folliculitis
  • Impetigo
  • Scabies
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis (thrush)
  • Jock itch

Sexually transmitted infectious genital dermatoses conditions include;

  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Pubic Lice
  • Trichomoniasis

Malignant genital dermatoses conditions include;

  • Vulval intra-epithelial neoplasia
  • Penile intra-epithelial neoplasia
  • Invasive squamous cell carcinoma
  • Extramammary Pagets disease
  • Mucosal melanoma

Causes of Genital Dermatoses

The cause of the genital dermatoses will depend on the condition – for example, a sexually-transmitted infection would likely be caused by sexual intercourse, or other close skin-to-skin contact of the genitals.

Some genital dermatoses may be as a result of autoimmune conditions or inflammation issues that may or may not affect the skin on other parts of the body – for example, psoriasis or lichen planus are caused by the immune system functioning abnormally. Malignant conditions are usually caused by the abnormal growth of a specific type of cell, which causes cancerous growths to occur.

Some types of genital dermatoses could be the result of a fungal skin infection, like thrush or jock itch; or due to a parasite living on the skin, such as scabies or public lice.

To reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, it is not recommended to have sexual contact with others if you are experiencing symptoms of genital dermatoses, and to undergo routine sexual health testing at regular intervals even if you are symptom-free (asymptomatic.)

It is especially important to undergo more frequent testing for sexually transmitted infections if you are sexually active with more than one partner, and you may need to return for testing more than once, depending on the period a condition could remain dormant or if tests might be inconclusive – the person performing your tests will advise you as to when, and how frequently.

If you are prescribed treatment for a sexually transmitted infection, it is important that you follow all instructions you are given, and complete any course of treatment in accordance with the doctor before resuming sexual activity.

Treatment of Genital Dermatoses at Derma

While your GP can be very helpful in diagnosing and treating cases of genital dermatoses, we are more than happy to see patients who prefer to consult a private dermatology specialist.

At Derma, we are sympathetic to the feelings of discomfort and embarrassment that can be caused by genital dermatoses, and you will be treated with the utmost discretion to maintain your confidentiality.

Your appointment will be will begin with a skin check and medical history, which will allow the dermatologist to assess conditions that may be co-occurring.

It may be necessary to perform investigations to diagnose a condition before it can be treated. In some instances, you may need to have blood tests and/or a biopsy, and you may need more than one appointment in order to confirm a diagnosis, or to treat a condition.

Together with the dermatologist, you will be able to discuss the latest and most effective treatments and explain all potential side-effects, enabling you to select the best option for you.

Some types of genital dermatoses can be managed using topical treatments available from chemists, but prescription creams may be helpful to reduce itching, or tablets might be necessary to resolve certain conditions, or if the skin has become infected from scratching. Depending on the condition and your overall health, other types of treatment may be suitable.

Whatever your needs, you can rest assured that Derma will provide the very best care for your skin, with access to the latest research and treatments.

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