Objective: This study aimed to determine the etiology of fine superficial fissures in women with vulvar pain.
Materials and Methods: The charts of women with vulvar complaints seen in the Mucosal Disorders Clinic at Northwestern University between April 2006 and May 2008 were reviewed. Outcome measures included mucocutaneous examination findings and results of microbiological swab cultures in the presence of fine, superficial, vulvar and/or perianal fissures. The presence of concomitant vulvar disorders was noted.
Results: Sixteen women who presented with vulvar pain were found to have fine, superficial, vulvar and/or perianal fissures with minimal or no erythema on examination. None had inflammatory vaginitis. Group B β-hemolytic streptococcus (Streptococcus agalactiae) was recovered in 6 (37.5%) patients. All women with group B β-hemolytic streptococcus–positive cultures had a concomitant vulvar disorder; however, fissures were present despite appropriate treatment directed at the concomitant vulvar dermatosis. Three patients reported improvement in vulvar pain after treatment with antibiotics, and fissures had resolved by the time of follow-up examination in these 3 patients.
Conclusions: Group B β-hemolytic streptococcus may cause painful fine superficial fissures and minimal erythema of vulvar skin. Obtaining microbiological cultures should be considered in the evaluation of vulvar pain even in the absence of purulent inflammatory vaginitis. The search for documentation and treatment of this relevant pathogen is a departure from published recommendations.