Losing skin from your vagina? Causes and treatments - Netdoctor

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Have you started losing skin from your vagina? If your vaginal[1] region sheds skin internally or externally, it can be alarming. But try not to panic! We lose skin from every area of the body and more often than not it is nothing to worry about.

We speak to Sarah Welsh, O&G SHO and co-founder of luxury vegan condom brand HANX[2] about vaginal skin loss and when you should be concerned:

Is it normal to lose skin from your vagina?

Vaginas are complex reproductive organs and it is perfectly normal to intermittently shed skin from inside or outside this region of the body, so try not to worry. 'The vagina naturally sheds skin, like many other areas of the body, at certain intervals,' says Welsh. 'This is more profound at the time of ovulation[3].'

'Skin shedding is normal, and normally the life cycle of skin cells is around six weeks, explains Welsh. 'The vulval is made of many layers, including the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris[4] and different glands. The labia and clitoris are made up of erectile tissue which can become engorged with blood and are very sensitive. Some areas of the vulva can be subject to skin conditions like anywhere on the body such as eczema and psoriasis.'

Some areas of the vulva can be subject to skin conditions like anywhere on the body such as eczema and psoriasis.

'Inside the vagina, an elastic muscular canal is lined with a mucosal membrane and this is very different to skin outside on the vulva,' she adds. 'For example, inside your mouth is very different from the skin outside around your mouth!'

However, if you are genuinely concerned, don't be afraid to seek medical advice. 'It is important to see a doctor or sexual health advisor, who can complete an examination if you are concerned about feeling uncomfortable or having unusual vaginal symptoms.'



What causes vaginal skin loss?

You lose skin from every area of your body, for a variety of reasons. 'Skin flaking externally is commonly due to dry skin or chafing which can be caused by ill-fitting underwear or certain fabrics that keep skin moist,' says Welsh.

'Keeping the skin dry, using a moisturiser on the vulva - the lips outside the vagina, not inside, can sometimes help.'

'However, occasionally irritated skin around the vaginal opening is due to thrush[5], which requires anti-fungal treatment,' she adds.



What about vaginal peeling or itching?

While shedding skin is perfectly normal, certain skin conditions can indicate something is amiss. 'Peeling skin on the vulva can indicate dermatitis[6], a type of eczema that causes inflammation of the skin when you come into contact with a particular substance,' says Welsh. 'This may be due to products you are using on the area, or certain materials the skin is coming into contact with.'

'Itching can also be a sign of dermatitis or infections, such as STIs or thrush,' she adds. 'In women over 50, skin conditions called lichen sclerosus and lichen planus are much more common causes of itching or rashes on the vulval skin.'

'It is important to see a specialist for a proper examination whatever your age,' she adds.



When should you visit a GP?

As with all health concerns, trust your instincts if you think something may be amiss. 'If you're experiencing symptoms that are new or different to what's normal for you, it is important to get checked,' says Welsh. 'Most of the time there is nothing untoward, but it is necessary to exclude infections, skin conditions or even something more sinister such as vulva or vaginal cancers.'

'Symptoms such as abnormal bleeding[7], pain during or after sex, itching or soreness that is not improving, should be checked by a professional,' she adds.



Vaginal skin loss treatments tips

Welsh recommends the following vaginal skin treatment tips:

✔️ Don't use perfumed products, which often include many chemicals and irritants. This includes soap and often marketed as "vaginal cleaning" products.

✔️ Basic moisturising creams can help simple dryness on the skin on the vulva, but it is important to be seen by a professional, so other conditions can be ruled out first.

✔️ Certain skin conditions, including lichen planus and eczema[8], may respond to steroid creams but these need to be prescribed firstly by a doctor.

✔️ Natural, water-based lubricants[9] are a great way to help keep things supple during intercourse. They are safe to use with condoms and shouldn't cause any irritation if they are all natural.



Sexual health resources

If you are concerned about anything relating to your sexual health, it's important you get tested. Try one of the following resources:

References

  1. ^vaginal (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
  2. ^HANX (www.hanxofficial.com)
  3. ^ovulation (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
  4. ^clitoris (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
  5. ^thrush (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
  6. ^dermatitis (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
  7. ^bleeding (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
  8. ^eczema (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
  9. ^lubricants (www.lovehoney.co.uk)
  10. ^sexual clinic (www.nhs.uk)
  11. ^Find a Service tool (www.brook.org.uk)
  12. ^contraceptive services (www.nhs.uk)
  13. ^Rhalou Allerhand (www.netdoctor.co.uk)
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