Both patients and clinicians may incorrectly diagnose vulvovaginitis symptoms. Patients often self-treat with over-the-counter antifungals or home remedies, although they are unable to distinguish among the possible causes of their symptoms. Telephone triage practices and time constraints on office visits may also hamper effective diagnosis. This review is a guide to distinguish potential causes of vulvovaginal symptoms. The first section describes both common and uncommon conditions associated with vulvovaginitis, including infectious vulvovaginitis, allergic contact dermatitis, systemic dermatoses, rare autoimmune diseases, and neuropathic vulvar pain syndromes. The focus is on the clinical presentation, specifically 1) the absence or presence and characteristics of vaginal discharge; 2) the nature of sensory symptoms (itch and/or pain, localized or generalized, provoked, intermittent, or chronic); and 3) the absence or presence of mucocutaneous changes, including the types of lesions observed and the affected tissue. Additionally, this review describes how such features of the clinical presentation can help identify various causes of vulvovaginitis.
Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians
After completion of this article, the reader should be able to distinguish potential causes of vulvovaginitis symptoms including conditions associated with vulvovaginitis and clinical presentations.