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Vulvar Dermatitis: Care Instructions


Vulvar dermatitis happens when the vulva becomes red, painful, and itchy. Dermatitis can be caused by heat or wetness or can be a reaction to scented soaps, powders, creams, toilet paper, spermicides, or clothing. A skin condition, such as eczema, also can cause dermatitis. Your doctor may do tests to find out what is causing your symptoms.

You can treat symptoms of vulvar dermatitis with medicine and home treatment. Try not to scratch your rash. Scratching can make the rash last longer or get worse.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Use your medicine exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. Tell your doctor if you are taking other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
  • Wash your vulva no more than once a day. Use cool water with or without unscented soap. Pat dry or use a hair dryer on a low setting.
  • Do not have sex until you feel better.
  • Do not douche or use powders or sprays in your vagina or on your vulva.
  • Try not to scratch. Use a cold pack or a cool bath to treat itching.
  • If itching affects your sleep, ask your doctor if you can take an antihistamine that might reduce itching and make you sleepy, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Try sleeping without underwear.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing. Do not wear nylon or other materials that hold body heat and moisture close to the skin.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge that smells bad.
  • You have burning or pain when you urinate.
  • You have increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in your vagina or vulva.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your rash spreads.
  • You have new or increased pain in your vagina or vulva.
  • You have new or increased itching from your vagina or vulva.
  • You do not feel better after 2 or 3 days.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.