Treatment of Genital Skin Conditions

Genital skin problems can cause pain, itchiness, and dryness to the genital area, often interfering with sexual, physical, and psychological well-being. Genital skin problems may be contagious, including sexually transmitted infections and diseases.


Dermatitis, or eczema, is one of the most common skin conditions, and although rare, can occur on the genitals as well. It affects your skin’s ability to retain moisture, leading to the drying or blistering of the skin surface which causes pain and itchiness. Acute dermatitis refers to the sudden outbreak of a red rash which may be blistered or swollen. Chronic dermatitis is a longstanding rash, often resulting in a permanent darkening of the area of skin. Treatments include bathing less, wearing softer clothing, use of antihistamines, topical steroids, antibiotics, or emollients.


Psoriasis can occur in many forms and can even effect the genital area. It results in large red, inflamed, dry and thickened patches of skin located in the folds of the genital area, similar to the ones that most people generally associate the term “psoriasis” with, occurring in the folds of the armpit, anus, behind the ears, and face. Treatments are usually in the form of topical agents, including coal tar topical and salicylic acid topical, or sometimes in the form of various steroids.

Reiter’s Syndrome

Reiter’s Syndrome is a type of reactive arthritis . Reactive means that it occurs in reaction to a bacterial infection in the body. It usually affects the genitals and urinary tract. There is no cure, but symptoms can be controlled and typically dissipate in 2-6 weeks.

Reiter’s Syndrome is typically triggered by STI’s such as Chlamydia. Symptoms may include painful, shallow ulcers in the penis, urinary tract infection, conjunctivitis, or gastrointestinal infection. Antibiotics are typically utilized to cure the infection and control symptoms of Reiter’s Syndrome.

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus most commonly affects post-menopausal women. This skin condition refers to the thickening of external genitalia, and presents thick white patches. Unbearable itching, blood-blisters, and bruising may also be present. Lichen sclerosus also may make sexual intercourse very uncomfortable, and may result in the splitting of the skin.

There is no known cure, but treatment has shown to greatly reduce symptoms of this genital skin condition. Treatments include topical steroids, lifestyle changes, and surgical procedures in severe cases.

Genital Warts

Genital warts (Human Papillomavirus) are one of the most common STI’s and is spread through skin-to-skin contact of the genitals with someone who has the virus. Symptoms include pain, itching, redness, and the development of a wart, but most people do not immediately know they have genital warts and may not experience any symptoms until 2-3 weeks after infection. The actual warts do not present themselves until active infection.

To diagnose genital warts, your doctor will perform a Gynecological Exam and/or Physical Exam. Once diagnosed, there is no cure for genital warts but treatment can rid the genitals of any warts for a period of time. Some treatments include: Electrocautery, Cryotherapy, laser surgery, and surgical removal of the genital warts.

Even without warts present, the virus is still in your cells, and it is still possible to spread the virus through sexual activity. Condoms are the best prevention of STI’s.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is another extremely common sexually transmitted infection. Genital herpes is caused by one of the two types of the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both types produce two kinds of infections: primary and recurrent. Primary genital HSV infections can be severe, as they present painful blisters, burning during urination, vaginal discharge, fever, headache, and/or fatigue. Recurrent HSV infections are usually milder than the primary infection, though the lesions look similar. Most people will have a recurrence of genital herpes during the first year after a primary infection.

Because of the infectious nature of genital herpes, most people who come in to contact with it will have a primary infection. Only 20% of people will see visible blisters after their first infection, but regardless the virus hibernates in their nerve cells.

Anyone who is sexually active can be exposed to genital herpes through unprotected sex. It is estimated that 10-60% of people are already infected with genital herpes. Treatment to control outbreaks includes antiviral and antifungal medications.

Pubic Lice

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, is the infestation of lice in the pubic region. Lice are small, wingless, bloodsucking insects that can quickly nest and reproduce in areas of the body that produce hair.

Lice will lay eggs in the pubic hair, and generally infest men because they have courser hair. Symptoms include itching, swollen lymph nodes on groin, and blue spots where insects bite, but some people do not experience any symptoms. Treatment includes the use of an insecticide cream, which will kill the lice and eggs. All sexual partners should be notified and treated to prevent further spread of the lice.


Scabies is a skin condition that causes itching due to small mites that burrow into the skin. They occur due to close contact with someone else who is infected, and can rapidly spread in crowded spaces. While scabies can occur anywhere in the body, they can be found in the buttocks area and men may experience them on their genitals.

The most common symptom of scabies are small pink or red bumps that resemble a pimple or bug bite. Infestations are usually hard to see, but the mites will crawl, they do not fly. Your doctor will prescribe a lotion to kill of the infestation and symptoms will dissipate after about 2 weeks. During that time, these precautions are advised to take within the household.

Jock Itch

Jock itch is a form of ringworm found in the groin. It is usually spread from infection of athlete’s foot. Symptoms of jock itch are large round, red patches of bumpy, scaling edges in the groin that may extend down the inner thigh or onto the belly or buttocks areas. Jock itch is usually not present on the genitals, and is commonly extremely itchy.

Jock itch is usually treated with over-the-counter medication. It is advised to check for athlete’s foot and start by treating that, and then treat other areas with an anti-fungal cream including Terbinafine, Clotrimazole and Miconazole. It is also advised to clean showers and floors with bleach to prevent re-infection.

Treating Genital Skin Conditions

If you suspect that you may have one of these genital skin conditions or are experiencing any symptoms that make you feel as though something in the area isn’t right, it is important to speak with your doctor. Most conditions are extremely contagious and treatment is the only way to control the symptoms and spread. Your doctor as Somerset Urological Associates will help you decide on the best treatment option for you.

Appointments can be made by calling 908-927-0300. Somerset Urological Associates is located at 72 West End Avenue Somerville, NJ 08876.

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