Ulcers on the female genitals (genital ulcers in women): What's it, causes, symptoms, diagnostics, treatment, prevention

Genital soresfemale; Sores on the female genitals

Ulcers on the female genitals: What's it?

Ulcers on the female genitals, also known as vulvar lesions, are a common problem. These ulcers can be of different shapes., size and even location along the vulva and labia and may be accompanied by itching, burning and pain. In some cases, the affected area may appear red, swollen and inflamed.

There are many causes of ulcers on the female genital organs., and it is important to understand the root cause, to treat the problem and alleviate the condition of the affected area.

Causes of ulcers on the female genital organs

Ulcers on the female genital organs can have a number of causes, including:

Infection, sexually transmitted, can cause the following ulcers:

  • Herpes is a common cause of painful sores.
  • Genital warts can cause painless sores.

Less common infections, such as soft chancre, inguinal pellets, molluscum contagiosum and syphilis, can also cause ulcers.

Changes, which can lead to vulvar cancer (vulvar dysplasia), may appear as white, red or brown spots on the vulva. These areas may itch. Skin cancer, like melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, can also cause ulcers, but less common.

Other common causes of genital ulcers include:

  • Long (chronic) skin disease, manifested by red itchy rashes (atopic dermatitis)
  • Skin, may blush, get sick or inflamed after contact with spirits, detergents, fabric softeners, feminine sprays, ointments, creams, syringes (contact dermatitis)
  • Cysts or abscesses of Bartholin's or other glands
  • Injury or scratches
  • Influenza viruses, which in some cases can cause genital sores or ulcers

Learn more about common causes of female genital ulcers:


One of the most common causes of female genital ulcers is an infection.. The most common infection is caused by infections, sexually transmitted (STI), such as herpes or genital warts. Other infections, which can cause lesions of the vulva and labia, include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis.

Chemical irritants

Some chemicals can cause skin irritation, what causes ulcers. Women may experience irritation due to personal care products, detergents, perfumes or even bubble baths or sexual lubricants.


In addition to chemical irritants, some women are very sensitive to certain tissues, so it's important to avoid them. Could it be synthetic fabrics?, lace and even some soaps and lotions. Besides, some products, such as chocolate and citrus, can also cause ulcers.


Women, who are active, eg, cycling or running, may experience ulcers due to friction. In some cases, tight clothing can also rub against the genitals and cause sores..

Symptoms of ulcers on the female genital organs

Symptoms of female genital ulcers can vary depending on the underlying cause. Common symptoms include:

  • Itch: the affected area may feel itchy and uncomfortable.
  • Burning: women may experience a burning sensation in the affected area.
  • Pain: ulcers may be tender to the touch and/or cause pain during urination.
  • Redness: the affected area may appear red and inflamed.
  • Edema: the affected area may feel swollen and painful to the touch.
  • Selections: some infections can cause a thick yellow discharge from the affected area.

When to See a Doctor for Female Genital Ulcers

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor, to get an accurate diagnosis. It is especially important to seek medical attention, if symptoms persist, if they get worse or if they are accompanied by fever or fatigue. Besides, it is important to see a doctor, if you or your partner have a known STI or if you are pregnant and experiencing such symptoms.

Questions, questions your doctor may ask about female genital ulcers

When you seek medical attention for female genital ulcers, your doctor, probably, asks the following questions:

  • When symptoms appeared?
  • What is the exact location of the ulcers?
  • Itch, burning or pain in the affected area?
  • You are pregnant?
  • Do you or your partner have known STIs?
  • Do you use scented soap, bath foam or personal lubricants in the genital area?

Diagnosis of ulcers on the female genital organs

To determine the cause of ulcers on the female genital organs, the doctor may perform a physical examination and take a sample of the affected area for laboratory analysis. This may include a swab to detect bacteria and other organisms, as well as culture to evaluate fungal infections. Besides, you can take a sample of secretions and analyze it for signs of STIs.

The following tests can be carried out:

  • General blood analysis
  • Differential blood test
  • Biopsy of the skin or mucous membranes
  • Vaginal or cervical culture
  • Microscopic examination of the vaginal secretion

Treatment of ulcers on the female genital organs

Treatment for female genital ulcers depends on the underlying cause. Antibiotics may be prescribed for infections, antifungal or antiviral drugs. In the case of chemical irritants, the doctor may advise avoiding the substance or recommend a protective cream. In some cases, topical ointments may be prescribed., to soothe the affected area.

Home treatment for female genital ulcers

In addition to medical treatment, there are home treatments, which can help reduce symptoms and bring relief to the affected area. These include:

  • Cold compresses. Applying a cold, wet compress to the affected area may help reduce swelling and pain..
  • Sitz baths. Sitz bath, which is a bath with warm water for the genital area, can help soothe the affected area and speed up healing.
  • Cotton clothing. Wearing cotton clothing and avoiding clothes that are too tight can reduce irritation.
  • Coconut oil. Applying coconut oil to the affected area can speed up healing and reduce inflammation and pain..
  • Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil can be added to mild soaps and used to wash the genitals.. This will help reduce discomfort and speed up healing..

Prevention of ulcers on the female genital organs

In addition to seeking medical help and managing symptoms with home treatments, you can use the following tips, to prevent the recurrence of ulcers on the female genital organs:

  • Practice safe sex: it is important to practice safe sex, to prevent the transmission of STIs.
  • Avoid chemical irritants: some chemicals can irritate sensitive tissues of the vulva; it is important to avoid harsh soaps, lubricants and scented pads or tampons.
  • Wear cotton underwear: wearing cotton underwear will help reduce irritation and improve breathability.
  • Know about food allergies: be aware of any food allergies, to avoid them and reduce irritation.
  • Limit strenuous activity: avoid these activities, like cycling or running, associated with rubbing of sensitive areas of the vulva against tissue.

It is important to remember, that ulcers on the female genital organs are a common complaint among women, but it is important to understand the root cause, to properly treat the problem. If you experience any of these symptoms or suspect, that you may have an infection, it is important to contact a healthcare professional, to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Used sources and literature

Eyebrown MH. Genital skin and mucous membrane lesions. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 106.

Frumovitz M. Neoplastic diseases of the vulva and vagina. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Crazy FOUR, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 30.

Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Genital tract infections: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Crazy FOUR, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 23.

Link RE, Tang N. Cutaneous diseases of the external genitalia. In: Party AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavousi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 59.

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