Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vulvar Dermatoses

Stockdale, Colleen K. MD, MS; Boardman, Lori MD, ScM

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002460
Contents: Clinical Expert Series
Take CME Test
Expert Discussion
Spanish Translation

Vulvar symptoms of pain, dyspareunia, and pruritus are common and may significantly affect a woman's sense of well-being and sexual function. Despite this, vulvar symptoms are often underreported by women. When identified, however, vulvovaginal symptoms should be addressed by health care providers to optimize care. The evaluation of patients with vulvovaginal complaints begins with a thorough history and physical examination. Biopsy is indicated when concern exists for malignancy or the diagnosis is uncertain. Treatment, if possible, should be evidence-based, although for many vulvar disorders including vulvar dermatoses, treatment is based on limited evidence and anecdotal experience. Although many vulvar dermatoses represent chronic conditions and thus cannot be simply cured, control is possible for the majority of women. Patient education regarding vulvar hygiene and skin care is the foundation for optimal management of inflammatory vulvar dermatoses. These conditions may be triggered or worsened by aggressive hygiene. Additionally, patients should be counseled regarding the need for individually tailored long-term maintenance to achieve optimal outcomes.

Vulvar dermatoses can severely affect a woman's quality of life; evaluation with accurate diagnosis is essential to optimize outcomes.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; and Florida Hospital for Women, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Orlando, Florida.

Corresponding author: Colleen K. Stockdale, MD, MS, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242; email

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

Continuing medical education for this article is available at

Each author has indicated that she has met the journal's requirements for authorship.

© 2018 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.