Symptoms A-Z

What to Do About Dry Skin Outside the Vagina & Why It Occurs

If you are experiencing dry itchy vaginal lips, or dry scabbing skin on the outside of your vagina, this could be from using irritating chemicals for hygiene or hair removal. A dry rash on the outside of the vagina can also be a sign of a skin infection or STD. Read below for more associated symptoms and treatment options.

An image depicting a person suffering from dry skin on the outside of the vagina symptoms

Dry Skin On The Outside Of The Vagina Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your dry skin on the outside of the vagina

Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 5 Possible Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  6. Statistics

External Vaginal Dryness and Itching Symptoms

You've tried to ignore it, but that bothersome flake and itch just won't go away. It's become increasingly distracting, but you feel embarrassed and don't know where to turn. Dry skin in the vaginal area may not be dinnertime conversation, but it's a relatively common problem among women. Environmental irritants are often to blame, though there are many possible causes. Try not to worry and ask your doctor for help — these questions come with the job.

Common accompanying symptoms of dry skin on the outside of the vagina are

If you're experiencing dry vaginal skin, it's likely to also experience:

Why Does the Outside of Your Vagina Itch

Though in a sensitive area, the skin around the vagina is much like skin in other parts of the body. For instance, it can be damaged by irritating chemicals or clothes. It is also vulnerable to skin conditions that may occur anywhere on the body. There are also some more unique causes for skin problems that may be more specific for the area around the vagina. Some of the more common causes are listed below, separated by category.

Irritating chemicals

It's likely that some sort of chemical or something you apply to the skin around your vagina is causing dryness.

  • Wipes: Though wipes make some people feel extra clean, the chemicals they contain can be irritating. If you do choose to use wipes, be sure they are designed for sensitive areas and not for household cleaning.
  • Bleaching: Some women may choose to bleach the area around the vagina, and these chemicals can be extremely irritating.
  • Spermicide: These creams and foams act as a form of birth control by killing sperm as they enter the vagina, though they are also not so friendly to the skin outside the vagina.
  • Douching: While the cleansing feeling and perfumes can be tempting, douching often causes more problems than it's worth.
  • Lubricant: Some personal lubricants contain irritating chemicals, colors or scents.
  • Condoms: Standard condoms are made of latex, which can cause an allergy in some people. The good news is that there are alternative kinds.

Hair removal

Removing hair from around the vagina — or the products used to do so — may be part of the cause of dryness.

  • Depilatories: Popular products like Nair remove hair without shaving or waxing, but they can cause skin irritation, especially if the directions are not followed precisely.
  • Shaving: This popular method of hair removal creates small nicks in the skin, which can lead to irritation or infection, especially if done with an old blade or without moisturizing.
  • Waxing: Though effective in removing hair for longer periods of time, waxing is painful, removes the skin's natural protective layer, and causes irritation, especially it not done with the proper aftercare.

Infection

Infection can lead to dry skin around the vagina, such as the following.

  • Skin infection: Sometimes bacteria can build up in our private areas, penetrate the skin, and cause infection. The hair follicles and glands are particularly susceptible.
  • Sexually transmitted infections: Certain STIs like herpes or genital warts are particularly irritating to the skin.
  • Yeast infection: This uncomfortable infection is caused by a fungus that likes dark, warm and moist areas, including the skin folds around the vagina.

Skin conditions

Certain skin conditions can manifest as dryness.

  • Allergy: Certain people may be allergic to detergents or fabrics that can be found in underwear. Eczema is also a type of allergic skin condition.
  • Autoimmune condition: Diagnoses like psoriasis have characteristic skin findings that usually affect other parts of the body but can sometimes affect the area around the vagina.

5 Possible Dry Skin On The Outside Of The Vagina Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced dry skin on the outside of the vagina. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Irritant contact dermatitis of the vagina

Contact irritant dermatitis of the vagina occurs when there is an irritant of some sort that causes damage to the skin. The irritation is often caused by friction or chemicals.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: vaginal itch or burning, vulvovaginal redness, vaginal discharge, urinary changes

Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis of the vagina: vaginal itch or burning

Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis of the vagina: urinary changes, vaginal discharge

Urgency: Self-treatment

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is chronic skin condition in which a person forms patches of white, wrinkly, thin skin, often described as being like "cigarette paper." Most people with this condition will experience it on their anus and genital regions, and some will experience it on other parts of the...

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Dry Skin On The Outside Of The Vagina Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your dry skin on the outside of the vagina

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a non-contagious chronic skin condition that produces an itchy rash. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin's ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens. The most susceptible are those with a family hi...

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Atrophic vaginitis

Atrophic vaginitis is a common condition that may affect up to 47% of postmenopausal women. It occurs due to low levels of estrogen which can be caused by menopause, medical treatments, and hormonal conditions, among other things.

Symptoms of atrophic vaginitis include vaginal dry...

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Symptoms of menopause

Menopause is the name for the natural process by which the menstrual cycle (period) stops happening in a woman. Usually, the process is gradual (takes months or years) and occurs from the age of 45 to 55 years. Menopause is officially diagnosed once a woman stops having a period for 12 months continuously. A woman with menopause will notice a decrease in the number and regularity of her periods until they completely stop. In addition, she may notice a number of symptoms that occur as a result of decreased estrogen levels, such as hot flashes, changes in mood, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, changes in libido, and changes in sexual function. Certain medications exist that can decrease these symptoms.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal discharge, anxiety, trouble sleeping

Symptoms that always occur with symptoms of menopause: delay in or irregular periods

Urgency: Self-treatment

How to Treat External Vaginal Itching

When it comes to the skin outside your vagina, prevention is a big part of keeping the area healthy. Good hygiene and keeping the area from being irritated are very important. Fortunately, there are several over-the-counter remedies that might help. For more serious or persistent issues, a visit to the gynecologist is recommended.

At-home treatment

The following treatments can be tried at home to address your dry vaginal skin.

  • Hold off on shaving or waxing: If you're experiencing irritation down there, don't add to the problem by prioritizing grooming over your health.
  • Moisturize: Choose an over-the-counter cream or lotion that is free of colors and perfumes that may be irritating. Try to moisturize at least twice per day.
  • Personal lubricant: Since some can be irritating, choose a brand that has worked for you in the past, if possible.

When to see a doctor

If at-home treatments and preventative measures are not enough, you should schedule an appointment to see your doctor. He or she may recommend the following.

  • Pelvic examination: A gynecologist can examine the area with special lights and tools to better determine what might be causing your problem.
  • Prescription creams and lotions: These medications can target your specific symptoms as determined by your doctor.
  • Biopsy: Your doctor may take a small sample of your skin and send it to a laboratory for further examination under a microscope.

When it is an emergency

Seek help without delay if you have:

  • High fever
  • Quickly spreading redness or swelling
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Severe pain: Especially if it radiates to your belly or back

Prevention

Preventative methods may be effective in controlling your symptoms.

  • Avoid irritating chemicals: Leave the Nair on the shelf and resist the urge to douche the vaginal area.
  • Try a new detergent: Certain chemicals in laundry soap irritate sensitive areas, so it can't hurt to make a swap if you're experiencing discomfort.
  • Wear well-fitting, cotton underwear: Synthetic fabrics aren't breathable and may cause problems, especially if too tight or too loose.
  • Change condoms or lubricant: If these items are a normal part of your routine, certain varieties can contact irritating ingredients.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dry Skin On The Outside Of The Vagina

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Are you sexually active?
  • Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Have you ever had a yeast infection?
  • When was your last menstrual period?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your dry skin on the outside of the vagina

Dry Skin On The Outside Of The Vagina Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced dry skin on the outside of the vagina have also experienced:

  • 45% Vaginal Itch Or Burning
  • 7% Vaginal Discharge
  • 4% Dry Skin

People who have experienced dry skin on the outside of the vagina were most often matched with:

  • 50% Lichen Sclerosus
  • 33% Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
  • 16% Irritant Contact Dermatitis Of The Vagina

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Dry Skin On The Outside Of The Vagina Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your dry skin on the outside of the vagina

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.