Why is My Vagina Peeling?

white petals on white surface

Women can experience a variety of symptoms that cause itchy, flaky vulva skin. It may be a result of regular activities that irritate the skin or an underlying medical condition.

Vulvar itching often happens as a result of estrogen levels falling during perimenopause. This can lead to dry skin, itchiness and sloughing of dead cells.

Eczema

The outer layer of skin on your vulva and vaginal vestibule can get dry for many reasons. It can happen naturally (as a result of aging or hormonal changes), from using scented soaps, wipes, and toilet paper, or as a reaction to certain sexually transmitted infections. It can also be caused by a yeast infection (which can cause thick, odorous discharge) or lichen sclerosus.

If you have a rash that is itchy, red, and painful, make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she can help you figure out what the cause is and prescribe a treatment plan.

Yeast infections are common in the genital area and can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams. If over-the-counter treatments don’t work, talk to your doctor about prescription medication.

Lichen sclerosus is another condition that affects the outer layer of your vulva and anus. It looks like a figure eight and can be painful and itchy. It can be caused by an overactive immune system or by hormones, and it is usually seen in young girls and postmenopausal women.

The best way to prevent vulvar peeling is to protect the skin with daily habits, including washing with mild, unscented soaps and patting gently rather than rubbing. Wearing breathable cotton clothing, changing out of wet clothes quickly, and avoiding products that can irritate the vulva are helpful, too. Boosting your water intake and using a high-quality vaginal lubricant can also keep the skin healthy.

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Psoriasis

If you have a skin disease like psoriasis or eczema, the genital area is more prone to irritation. The outer layers of the vulva and vaginal vestibule can get irritated by sweating, humidity, friction, and tight clothing. Itching can lead to the formation of raised plaques, which causes the surrounding skin to thicken and peel. If you have psoriasis of the genital area, your rash may look red and pink with cracks. The rash may also appear white, lacey, or streaked with yellow.

Vulvar dermatitis is another condition that can cause intimate itching, dryness, and shedding of dead skin cells. It is a common problem during perimenopause, when estrogen levels decline and the skin thins. It can also occur as a reaction to prolonged heat or wetness and the use of scented soaps, wipes, toilet paper, or chemicals.

Yeast infections, which are caused by an overgrowth of Candida, a naturally occurring yeast that lives in the vulva, can also lead to itching, dryness, and peeling of the outer layers of the vulva and vaginal vault. Yeast infections can also cause a thick, odorous discharge that looks like cottage cheese. If you have a yeast infection, your doctor can prescribe antifungal medications.

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Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is an autoimmune condition that can cause bumps and sores, especially in moist areas like the mouth and genitals. It is believed to be triggered by an overactive immune system and can occur in people of all ages, but it is more common in middle-aged adults. It may also be a side effect of certain medications or can be a result of an infection, such as hepatitis C.

If the vulva is affected, it can cause sex problems for both men and women, such as painful sex, and a sticky yellow discharge. It can also cause a burning sensation when passing urine and itching of the vulva. In more severe cases, erosive lichen planus can lead to scarring, which changes the shape of the vulva and inner lips. The clitoral hood can disappear and the outer and inner lips may fuse together.

The rash of this condition can look similar to squamous cell carcinoma, so it is important for people who have erosive lichen planus in their mouth, genitals, or vulva to be monitored for signs of cancer in these mucosal sites. In the mouth, lichen planus looks like lacy white patches in the cheeks and tongue. In the genitals, it may look like bright red patches with sores or crusty ulcers. It can also affect the nails, causing them to thin and develop ridges.

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Yeast Infections

The natural bacteria in the vagina usually balance out between the “good” and the “bad.” However, when the yeast overgrows, it can cause a thick, odorous discharge. This condition is called bacterial vaginosis, and it can be treated with antibiotics. The good news is that it should go away once the balance between bacteria and yeast is restored.

Itchy skin around the vulva can also be caused by contact dermatitis, which occurs when the area comes into contact with an irritant or allergen, such as perfumes, laundry detergent, lubricants, and latex. Contact dermatitis can be very irritating, causing itching, flaking and redness of the skin.

Another condition that can cause itching and dryness of the vulva is lichen sclerosis, which leads to crinkly and shiny skin in both the inner and outer vulva. Other symptoms include a lacey pattern on the skin and a thick, sticky discharge. Lichen sclerosis is most common in postmenopausal women and girls who have not gone through puberty.

If you have any of the conditions mentioned above, it’s important to see a doctor so that they can diagnose and treat the underlying problem. Many of these conditions respond well to treatment, especially when the underlying causes are addressed. You may want to try a few home remedies, such as eating fermented foods and probiotics, to help balance the microbiome of your body and eliminate itching and dryness of the vulva.

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