Wounds in the vagina or vulva can arise from various causes, mainly due to friction during sexual intercourse, allergy to clothes, pubic absorbents or be a consequence of hair removal that is done without much care. However, these wounds may also be a sign of sexually transmitted infections such as genital herpes and syphilis which come with other symptoms aside from wounds.
When the wounds do not disappear over time and they are accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, pain, discharge or bleeding, it is important to consult with a gynaecologist so that specific tests that indicate the cause of the wound may be done and the most appropriate treatment is started.
The main causes of wound in the vagina include:
1. Injuries and allergies
The wound in the vagina or vulva may arise from using tight underwear that causes friction, friction during intercourse or injury during pubic hair removal. In addition, allergy to the material of the panties or the pubic absorbent can also lead to the appearance of wounds. This is because one of the symptoms related to allergy is itching in the genital region which further favors appearance of wounds.
What to do: In normal cases, the wound usually heals by itself after a few days, however, to favor healing it is important to wear comfortable clothes and cotton panties. In addition, it is advisable to avoid waxing and sexual intercourse while with the wound. If there is no improvement after a few days, it is recommended to consult the gynaecologist to verify the use of ointments that will facilitate healing.
2. Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections are major causes of wounds in the vagina, and the most common include:
- Genital herpes: This is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, and is acquired by contact with the blisters or ulcers of the partner. It causes the appearance of redness and small blisters that cause pain, burning or itching.
- Syphilis: It is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum which is most often transmitted through intimate contact without use of a condom. Generally, the initial stage arises after 3 weeks of contamination, common as a single and painless ulcer. If left untreated, syphilis can progress to other stages and become very severe.
- Soft cancer: Also known as cancer, is an infection caused by the bacterium Haemophilus ducrey, which causes multiple ulcers, painful and with purulent or bloody secretion.
- Venereal lymphogranuloma: It is a rare infection, caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, and usually causes small lumps that turn into painful wounds, deep and accompanied by inguas.
- Donovanosis: Also known as inguinal granuloma, is caused by the bacterium Klebsiella granulomatis, and causes initial lesions that are subcutaneous nodules or small lumps that evolve to non-painful ulcers, which grow gradually and can cause great damage to the genital region.
Incase the wounds in the vagina or vulva are caused by a sexually transmitted infection, they may not disappear over time. It is common for them to be accompanied by other symptoms such as discharge, bleeding and pain during intercourse.
It is also important to remember that the presence of genital infections may represent a risk of HIV infection. The wounds are gateways to infection by the virus and other microorganisms. They should therefore be prevented by using a condom and getting proper treatment from a gynaecologist or infectologist.
What to do: In such cases, it is important to consult the gynaecologist so that tests are performed to identify the infection that has been caused by the wound, so as to start the appropriate treatment; which can be done using antibiotics of antivirals. It is also important for the sexual partner to get tested and treated even if they do not show any signs and symptoms of the disease.
3. Autoimmune diseases
Some autoimmune diseases can also cause wounds in the genital region such as Behçet’s disease, Reiter’s disease, lichen planus, multiform erythema, complex aphthosis, pemphigus, pemphigoides, Duhring-Brocq herpetiform dermatitis, or linear IgA dermatitis. The diseases are rarer and may appear in young adults or older women and they usually manifest with ulcers in the mouth and anal.
Wounds caused by these autoimmune diseases may also be accompanied by other systemic symptoms such as fever, weakness, weight loss or impairments of other organs such as kidneys and blood circulation. They can therefore be worrisome and should be investigated and treated by a rheumatologist or dermatologist.
What to do: If a woman has an autoimmune disease or a history of the disease in the family, she should communicate to the gynaecologist as soon as the wound is detected so that medication can be made to regulate immunity using drugs such as corticosteroids or immunosuppressants and ointments, to help heal the wound. In addition, autoimmune diseases can lead to hypersensitivity reactions, it is therefore recommended to avoid the use of allergen products such as cosmetics, as well as very spicy foods, which have color and strong smell.
Cancer is a rare cause of wounds in the vagina that usually causes itching, bad smell and secretion, and is more common in older women. The chance of a wound in the vagina becoming cancer is higher when it is caused by the HPV virus.
What to do: If the woman knows that she has HPV, as soon as she begins to notice the wound with secretion, it is advisable to seek a gynaecologist, so that a biopsy can be done. If confirmed, she should start treatment for vaginal cancer, which usually involves the removal of the site affected by surgery, in addition to completing treatment with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and checking of nearby lymph nodes.