Genital Rash: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

surgery 1822458 1280
surgery 1822458 1280

Genital rashes mostly occur as a consequence of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Knowing its clinical manifestations, causes, and treatments are essential to address them.

A genital rash is manifested by sores, itching, and bumps on the external tissue in the sexual organs, among other symptoms. The most relevant pathology contained in this clinical picture is genital herpes, which, according to medical studies, is the cause of primary genital ulcer globally (85% of infections of this type).

Although, in general, these pathologies are not serious, they promote a series of very uncomfortable symptoms for the infected person. That is why knowing how to detect the causes, types, and treatments of genital rashes are essential for healthy sex life. Next, we explain everything about these sexually transmitted diseases.

About sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Genital rashes are, as a whole, in the group of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Unprotected sexual practices contract this type of pathologies. However, sources indicate that there are also cases due to the use of syringes, blood contact with secretions, and even in childbirth and lactation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underscores the value of raising public awareness of STIs’ opportunity. Some of the data collected in the United States, in the year 2018, are alarming:

  • 1.8 million cases of Chlamydia annually, with an increase of 19% compared to 2014.
  • 583,405 cases of gonorrhea, with a 63% increase since 2014.
  • 115,045 cases of syphilis, 71% more than that registered in 2014.
  • 1,306 cases of syphilis among newborns, 185% of what was registered in 2014.

All of these data underscore that sexually transmitted infections (many of which manifest with genital rashes) have been on the rise in recent years. Therefore, it is essential to know them perfectly and take precautions, which is not difficult.

Genital rash: symptoms and causes

Once we have framed this pathology in its framework, it is time to discover its characteristics. According to a bibliographic review article in which we will base ourselves to address the subject, there are three types of genital injuries:

  • Infectious: include the STIs named above.
  • Inflammatory: non-infectious.
  • Neoplastic.

Infectious genital rash

Various types of germs can cause infectious genital rashes. In the case of being the result of bacterial colonization, we find the following subtypes:

  • Syphilis: it is a pathology caused by the microorganism Treponema pallidum. According to studies, it is characterized by the appearance of an injury called a chancre.
  • Soft chancre: This bacterial infection is caused by Haemophilus ducreyi. In this case, multiple and irregular cankers appear in the genital area. In 50% of cases, it is accompanied by lymphadenopathy (inflammation of the lymph nodes).
  • Gonorrhea:  Because of Neisseria gonorrhoeae.It produces urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), balanitis (widening of the head of the penis), and purulent secretions.

These are the most important, but not the only ones. We also have other examples, such as inguinal granuloma or Donovan’s disease, and venereal lymphogranuloma produced by the genus Chlamydia.

From a viral perspective, and as we have advanced, genital herpes simplex is the most common representative. This pathology is caused by a DNA virus that appears in two subtypes: HSV-1 and HSV-2. The second variant is the cause of 85% of genital infections.

This viral pathogen can be asymptomatic or give rise to a typical clinical picture (in 75% of cases) characterized by painful blisters in the genital area. They then develop into ulcers with fever, discomfort, and itching.

There are other infectious pathologies that generate genital rashes. We have not covered those of parasitic origin (scabies or trichomoniasis, for example) or those caused by fungi (such as candidiasis). These lines still give us a general idea: Most genital rashes are viral and bacterial in origin.

A neoplastic noninfectious inflammatory genital rash

These are much less common than the previous ones. Clinical dermatology books list some of the reasons why these types of rashes can occur:

  • Cutaneous mucosa reactions due to hypersensitivity to certain drugs.
  • Changes in the immune system.
  • Psoriasis: A common skin disease that quickens the life period of skin cells.
  • Self-inflicted injury or sexual abuse.

Finally, neoplastic genital rashes are generally caused by melanomas, which are a form of skin cancer. Second, epithelial carcinomas appear. They are associated with tumor processes and, like inflammatory ones, are not infectious.

How are they treated?

Genital rashes have such varied causes that covering them is difficult. The same happens with treatment since it changes drastically if it is a self-inflicted wound or an infection of viral origin.

  • In the case of genital herpes simplex, systemic antiviral drugs such as acyclovir are treatment options.
  • In bacterial infections, the use of antibiotics is the way to go. For example, penicillin is used for syphilis.
  • In the case of fungal eruptions, such as candidiasis, antifungal medications are used.

What to remember about the genital rash?

Although there are some types of genital rash that do not depend on the relationships or the precaution of the patient (such as psoriasis or epithelial cancers), most injuries in these areas are caused by sexually transmitted infections ( ITS).

These pathologies are on the rise, so it is essential to make the population aware of taking precautions when having sex. Talking with your partner, protecting yourself, and having a medical check-up when you suspect an STI is minimal are sufficient containment measures.


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