Psoriasis and eczema are common skin conditions that affect different parts of the body. In recent years, people became more familiar with these diseases and how they present on the skin; however, when they appear in the genital area, it can be very concerning for patients.
For instance, genital psoriasis can affect the penis or vulva, your upper thighs, and the folds of the skin between your thigh and groin. Eczema may have a similar pattern. Most people associate rashes around the genital area with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which can create panic and restlessness.
In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of psoriasis and eczema in the genitalia and how to treat both conditions.
The signs and symptoms of genital skin conditions
Generally speaking, psoriasis appears as patches of red skin with shiny scales. When this condition develops in the genitalia, the patches tend to be bright red, and the classic scales of psoriasis are absent. In the vast majority of cases, your doctor will make the diagnosis of psoriasis by inspecting your skin. However, some tests may be necessary to rule out other diagnoses (e.g., bacterial infections, fungal overgrowth). Genital psoriasis may cause itching, burning, and a sensation of discomfort. In rare cases, patients complain of pain in the affected areas.
The following products may worsen your symptoms:
• Rough toilet paper
• Tight clothes
• Sanitary products that irritate the skin
As for genital eczema, it presents with the following signs and symptoms:
• Bumpy skin (red)
• Skin dehydration
• Itchiness around the rash area
• Patches of brownish or grayish skin
• Thick or scaly skin
• Blisters that release fluid when burst
The causes of genital skin conditions
Researchers are still uncertain about the causes of genital psoriasis. However, it does seem that some patterns of psoriasis affect the genital regions in varying degrees. In a 2018 study, researchers found that 33–63% of patients with psoriasis develop symptoms around their genitalia at some point.
As we discussed in a previous article, eczema is an umbrella term that encompasses several skin conditions. Some of these forms include:
Atopic dermatitis – this type of eczema appears to cause a rash or itchy bumps.
Irritant contact dermatitis – the triggers of this condition are allergens or chemicals. Possible irritants include underwear, athletic equipment, and condoms.
Seborrheic dermatitis – this type occurs where oil glands appear. In uncommon cases, it may appear on the penis or vulva.
All the forms of eczema cited above can affect the genitalia at some point. If you notice a rash around your penis or vagina, you may want to speak with your primary care physician or dermatologist for further evaluation.
The treatment options for genital skin conditions
If you notice that there is a rash around your genital area, you may want to follow these steps in order to prevent exacerbation:
• Avoid hygiene products that contain harsh ingredients (e.g., fragrances)
•Use a soft towel to pat yourself dry after the shower
• Avoid rubbing the affected area
• Use absorbent toilet paper
• Wear cotton underwear to minimize friction
• Wear breathable clothes
If your doctor confirms that you have genital psoriasis, there are several treatments for this condition. Prescription topical ointments and creams can ease the discomfort and itching felt in your genitals. Your doctor may also prescribe topical steroid creams. Some evidence suggests that using over-the-counter moisturizers can be helpful. You should ask your doctor about the proper way to use these products.
Fortunately, treating general psoriasis with oral or injectable drugs may alleviate the symptoms of genital psoriasis. Note that your doctor may need to try several therapeutic plans before they find the best solution for you.
For genital eczema, the treatments that may help with this condition include:
Calcineurin inhibitors – these drugs modulate your immune system to dampen inflammation. Common prescriptions include tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel).
Inflammation control – drugs that control inflammation and immune response, such as prednisone, are an excellent way to treat inflammation.
Antibiotics – infections are a common complication of genital psoriasis and eczema. The prescription of antibiotics in this situation is necessary to prevent severe forms.
Injectable treatments – if your skin condition does not respond to treatment, your doctor may recommend dupilumab (Dupixent). This drug gets injected to treat severe cases of eczema.
Phototherapy – light therapy may be an effective method to treat dermatological conditions that affect the genitalia. However, this treatment is reserved for severe cases.
Implications for sexual health
Genital psoriasis becomes worse as a result of the friction that occurs during sexual intercourse. Some patients report feeling less discomfort when wearing condoms. Additionally, the condoms will serve as a barrier that prevents skin-to-skin irritation. After sexual intercourse, patients with genital psoriasis need to cleanse the area thoroughly and apply moisturizers.
Psoriasis and eczema may also change the appearance of the genitalia, which can be uncomfortable for you and your partner. For this reason, you should openly communicate with your partner about your condition to remove the tension. You need to remember that neither condition is transmissible, which means there is no risk of infecting another person who does not have the disease.
Psoriasis and eczema that affect the genitalia are common in the general population; however, people are not familiar with their presentations. Learning about the signs and symptoms of these conditions will prevent the panic that arises from thinking it’s an STD. We hope that this article highlighted the clinical presentation of genital psoriasis and eczema.
If you want to read more about what your eczema might be, read this: https://itsitchy.com/do-i-have-psoriasis-eczema-or-is-it-something-else/
Written by Zac Hyde