What is Vaginal Peeling?
There are many conditions that can lead to peeling, flaking and itching of the skin around the vagina. The vagina is a part of the vulva that contains multiple layers that are designed to cover and protect the sexual organs and urinary openings.
The parts of the vulva are:
Vagina: A muscular canal that connects the cervix to the outside of the body.
Vaginal vestibule: It is located between the urethra and the anus, which is the vaginal opening.
Clitoris: It is located just above the urethra and is a sex organ that produces pleasure.
Urethra: It is a part of the renal system and helps in moving urine out of the body.
Labia majora: It is the outer lip of the vulva.
Labia minora: it is the skin beneath the labia majora. It encloses the clitoris.
Perineum: It is the area between the vaginal opening and the anus.
Bartholin glands: These are the lubrication glands and are located on each side of the vaginal opening.
Irritation and inflammation of any part of the vulva can lead to peeling and flaking of the skin. Also, dryness of skin in and around the vagina can lead to itching and flaking.
Causes of Vaginal Skin Peeling
There are numerous causes of vaginal peeling.
There are seven different types of eczema and the types that mostly affect the genitals are:(1)
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can affect many parts of the body including the face. It leads to a red rash-like appearance that can be itchy.
Eczema can occur in the outer layer of the vulva and vaginal vestibule. It can get worse on scratching and lead to thickening of the skin, swelling, and vaginal peeling.
Eczema can occur due to exposure to irritants. The vulva can be sensitive to the following products:
- Hair removal products
- Soaps, wipes, and body washes
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition in which there is a rapid build of skin cells that leads to raised plaques and scales on the skin.
Up to 63 % of people with psoriasis develop psoriasis in the genital region.(2)
There are two types of psoriasis that can occur in the genital region:
- Plaque psoriasis
- Inverse psoriasis
Psoriasis affects the skin and leads to red and pink patches and cracks. It also leads to skin peeling.
Candida or vaginal yeast infection occurs due to the overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast that lives in the vagina.
It leads to a thick odorous discharge that looks like cottage cheese. The skin may get swollen and be itchy. There may also be peeling off of the skin.
Lichen sclerosis is an inflammatory skin condition that is known to affect postmenopausal women and females who have not entered puberty or menstruated yet.
The symptoms of lichen sclerosis include crinkly and shiny skin with intense itching. There may be peeling, bruising, and blistering of the skin due to thinning.
Lichen planus occurs due to an overactive immune system and can affect the skin inside the vagina and also the outer layers of the vulva.
It causes soreness and burning of the skin, inside and outside the vagina. The skin may crack and look peeled with a white streak and lacey pattern.
If these signs are present inside the vagina, there may be a thick yellow discharge.
Sexually Transmitted Disease
There may be peeling of the skin on or around the vagina because of the sexually transmitted disease.
The sexually transmitted disease are:
Symptoms of Vaginal Peeling
There are other symptoms that may accompany vaginal skin peeling. These symptoms depend on the cause of the condition.
The symptoms include:
- Intense burning and itching
- Small skin tears
- Scaling of the skin
- Stinging and burning sensation
- Bumpy rash
- Patches on the skin that are red or white in color
- Vaginal odor and discharge
Treatment of Vaginal Peeling
If there is vaginal peeling, it is important to discontinue the use of products that irritate the skin.
Soothing treatments such as soaking in the warm colloidal oatmeal bath would also prove to help.
Wear breathable fabric preferably cotton and loose undergarments.
Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams.
It is important to consult a doctor for treatment recommended as wrong treatment might worsen the symptoms.
Vaginal peeling is caused by underlying factors that are mostly accompanied by itching, swelling, and burning sensation. It responds well to the treatment only if the underlying condition is properly diagnosed.