The skin in the vulval region is extremely delicate, making it susceptible to a wide range of conditions.
Some general tips for vulval care are:
- Switch to hypoallergenic versions of products like toilet paper and laundry detergent as these products have no or limited perfume and colourings known to cause irritation.
- Avoid soap or use a soap substitute.
- Take showers instead of baths and do not use douches or talc.
- Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting trousers, pantyhose and G-strings.
- When showering avoid getting shampoo or conditioner residue on the vulval area. Alternatively, wash hair in the basin.
- Use tampons rather than sanitary pads where possible—they are less irritating to the vulva. If pads are preferred, consider using washable cloth sanitary pads. Avoid the use of panty-liners between periods.
- Avoid repeated use of over the counter anti-fungal preparations for thrush. If symptoms of thrush continue after an initial treatment women should consult their doctor as these preparations are a common cause of irritation.
- Examine your vulva on a regular basis so that you are aware of any changes that occur.
Amongst several reasons, I will list some -
Ingrown hairs/sebaceous cysts
Ingrown hairs can develop in the vulva, particularly following waxing or shaving. The trend towards Brazilian waxing (where all hair in the vulval region is removed) has made this problem more common.
An ingrown hair can result in the development of a pimple or cyst on the skin's surface. Gentle exfoliation of the skin can help get rid of ingrown hairs.
Sebaceous cysts are caused by a blocked sebaceous gland (oil gland in the skin). They commonly occur in the vulva and appear as a small, hard lump which is generally painless.
Sebaceous cysts do not require treatment unless they cause discomfort.
Bartholin's glands cyst
The Bartholin's glands are tiny glands located on each labia minora, near the vaginal opening. These glands produce fluid that lubricates the entrance to the vagina and can become blocked, causing a cyst to develop. The cyst can become tender and, if large, can cause discomfort when walking/sitting.
If the cyst is small and is asymptomatic it can just be monitored. Sometimes the cyst can become infected and develop an abscess. In these cases, the cyst or abscess can be drained by a doctor.