7 Reasons Why You Might Have A Rash On Your Vagina

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
One of the most annoying things about summer? Rashes. Whether it's a heat rash, a bug bite, or poison ivy, being red and itchy is no fun. And while summer rashes often affect your chest, arms, or legs, they can also appear on your vulva. Yeast infections spike in the summer, as does razor burn (because people are shaving more often), STIs (because people are having more sex), and irritation caused by heat and sweat.
If you notice a rash on your vulva this summer, there are a lot of possible explanations. Often, these rashes are not serious. Some, like those caused by razor burn, can be treated at home. But if your rash doesn’t go away in a few days, if you have any other symptoms, or if you have any concerns, it’s always a good idea to check with a doctor.
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"Because it is difficult to figure out which kind of infection it is on your own, it is important to get the correct diagnosis and treatment from your doctor," Roshini Raj, MD, a board-certified physician and women's health advocate, previously told Refinery29. While you’re waiting for your appointment, wearing loose, breathable underwear or going commando can help relieve your symptoms. You can also apply a cold compress or a towel wrapped in ice if you’re feeling itchy. Again, you should see a doctor to be sure, but here are some of the most common rash culprits to know about.
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Razor Burn

What causes it: Razor burn occurs when you irritate your hair follicle while shaving or waxing, and razor bumps occur when the shaved hairs become ingrown while growing back. These terms (burn and bumps) are usually used interchangeably.
Symptoms: If you recently removed some pubes and you’re now seeing itchy red bumps on your vulva, razor burn is probably the explanation.
Remedies: Razor burn should go away on its own within a few days, but you can apply a cold washcloth to the area to help reduce the itching. To prevent razor burn next time, exfoliate your skin, use a fresh razor and shaving cream, and moisturize after shaving. You also could skip shaving altogether, if you like.
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Contact Dermatitis

What causes it: Contact dermatitis is a fancy name for a rash caused by something your skin came into contact with — think scented detergent, a strong soap, or wearing a menstrual pad for a long time.
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Symptoms: Along with an itchy, red rash, you may see swelling and feel a burning sensation.
Remedies: If you’re able to identify the product, stop using it ASAP. In fact, stop using any products on your vulva while the rash persists. The rash will go away on its own, but a doctor may prescribe an ointment or oral treatment as well.
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Yeast Infection

What causes it: A yeast infection occurs when there’s an overgrowth of yeast in your vagina. Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted and they are very common — about 75% of cis women will have at least one in their lives. Research suggests yeast infections are more common in the summer.
Symptoms: A rash is one possible symptom of a yeast infection, but not all yeast infections come with rashes. Other symptoms are an itchy, irritated vagina and vulva; a white, odorless vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese; and pain, soreness, or burning, especially while peeing or during sex.
Remedies: Over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections are available. However, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor to confirm this is a yeast infection, because many other conditions are frequently misdiagnosed as yeast infections.Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter oral medication or cream, or prescribe a medication.
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Scabies

What causes it: Scabies are tiny mites — so tiny you can’t see them — that burrow into your skin and lay eggs. These burrow track are made up of irregular bumps and can look similar to a rash. Scabies can affect different areas of the body, including the genital area.
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Symptoms: Along with the burrow tracks, scabies cause itching, which is often more intense at night.
Remedies: A doctor will likely prescribe a topical cream or lotion to treat scabies. In some cases, an oral medication is preferred.
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Pubic Lice

What causes it: Smaller than body or head lice, pubic lice are tiny bugs that live in your pubic hair. They are tiny, grayish, and look like crabs.
Symptoms: Along with itching and a rash, you may be able to see the lice themselves. Other symptoms include feeling feverish, fatigued, and irritable, and seeing dark spots on the skin.
Remedies: Pubic lice are easy to treat. Over-the-counter medications are available, as well as prescription medications. Check with your doctor to see what’s right for you.
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Molloscum Contagiousum

What causes it: Molloscum contagiosum is an infection, most common in children, caused by a virus. It results in growths on the body that can sometimes look like a rash. It can occur anywhere on the body, including the genital area.
Symptoms: Usually, the only symptom of molloscum contagiosum is the bumps on your skin.
Treatment: Molloscum contagiosum usually goes away on its own, but doctors may recommend treatment when it appears on the genital area. There are different options available, including physical removal, oral medication, or topical medication.
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Skin Condition

What causes it: If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, it can affect the vulva, as well as other areas of the body. These affected areas may appear look similar to a rash.
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Symptoms: Psoriasis symptoms include itchiness; tight-looking, red skin; discomfort or pain; and splitting of the skin. Eczema symptoms include itchiness and thicker skin. An eczema rash on the vulva usually only appears after scratching.
Treatment: Vulvar psoriasis or eczema may be treated with a topical medication, and psoriasis treatment may also incorporate phototherapy (UVB light). You can also work to reduce triggers, such as working with a therapist to reduce stress.
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Other Irritation

What causes it: There are other factors that can irritate your vulva, too. Think heat, sweat, or spending a lot of time in a hot tub.
Symptoms: These rashes may be itchy, but there are usually no other symptoms. If there are, check in with a doctor.
Remedies: These rashes often go away on their own within a few days or a week. (Again, if they don't, check in with a doctor.)
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