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Thrush related vulvitis

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What is it?

An irritation around the entrance of the vagina and its lips (vulva).

How does it show itself?

It usually leads to itching or soreness and there may be an unusual discharge. It can be easily confused with `thrush` which is caused by a yeast germ called `candida`. Thrush can however be one of a number of   causes of vulvitis.

Is it common?

Yes, very. Some women get it regularly especially if they suffer other skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. An allergy to certain drugs or chemicals may exist. A family history of allergy may also be relevant.

Where does it come from?

There could be a number of causes. Here are some of the more common ones:

Infection. Thrush is the commonest infectious cause. Some women experience this more during pregnancy or after taking antibiotics. It may be passed on from a sexual partner but this is thought to be rare. Other genital infections might cause vulvitis.
bulletAllergy or chemical irritation. It may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what substance causes a vulvitis. Common things are;
Feminine deoderant sprays
Scented bath/washing products (eg bath salts/bubble baths)
Creams used incorrectly (eg antithrush, antiseptics)
Contraceptive creams
Condoms (especially with spermicidal lubricant)
Chlorine in swimming pools
Hair shampoo in bath water
Chemicals/cosmetics used by a sexual partner on genitals/fingers.
Washing powders especially biological ones and fabric softeners.
Certain brands of sanitary protection products
bulletMenopause. This is a time when many women experience dryness and irritation as hormone levels reduce. Your G.P. may be able to help if this is the case.

Can it be treated successfully?

Yes. It is important to check for the presence of an infection by examining the vulva and taking swabs from the vagina. Treatment can then be given if needed. If no infection is found then it will be helpful to stop using products that may be causing the irritation. Underwear may best be washed separately using simple soap flakes. If condoms appear to be the problem then changing brands may help especially by avoiding ones with nonoxynol-9 lubricant. If it occurs during the menopause a GP may prescribe hormonal creams or replacement therapies. Use of a lubricant such as KY jelly may help with dryness and can be purchased from any chemist.

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