The vulva is an external part of female genitalia. This organ can be affected by various changes that affect either the skin or the mucous membrane. Sometimes both of these surfaces are covered with different skin lesions. Vulvar lesions range from benign growths to malignant tumors. There may also be dystrophies, dermatoses and infections. Even though in some cases vulvar lesions may go undetected because they are asymptomatic, it is a general rule that a woman must have at least one symptom such as pruritus (itchy sensation), dysuria (painful urination) or dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse).
Different Vulvar Lesions
- Viral Infections
- Bacterial Infections
One more bacterial infection associated with formation of vulvar lesions is lymphogranuloma venereum. In the first phase of the disease, the vulva is covered with a painless papule or ulcer which heals within a few days. In the second phase, after 2-6 weeks, patient's regional lymph nodes become enlarged and quite painful. Additional symptoms include fever and chills, myalgia, arthralgia and perianal edema. In syphilis the vulva is covered with typical lesions called chancres which develop 10-90 day after exposure to the bacteria. These lesions are painless.
Chancroid is a sexually transmitted disease with painful vulvar lesions and several more symptoms such as malaise, headache and fever. The vulvar lesions are accompanied by severe enlargement and tenderness of inguinal lymph nodes.
- Cysts and Tumors
Basal cell carcinoma is a nodular tumor with a central ulcer. It does not cause any kind of sensation such as discomfort/pain but may be itchy, a source of bleeding and discharge. The tumor can sometimes cause burning sensation.
And finally, one of the most serious illnesses associated with formation of painful vulvar lesions is definitely squamous cell hyperplasia/squamous cell carcinoma. In squamous hyperplasia lesions are red, brown or white, poorly defined, localized and extensive. Progression of hyperplasia leads to invasive vulvar cancer. The severe and non-healing ulcer causes pain, pruritus and depending on the stage of the disease it affects spreads to nearby organs. Because it initially may resemble other vulvar lesions, women who notice any change in their vulvar area are due to visit their doctor. This way even if they are suffering from vulvar cancer, the tumor can be timely diagnosed and treated.