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Monday, August 25, 2008

Common Conditions Affecting the Genitals

Itchy skin rashes are very common in the genital region, which generally includes the area below the belly button to the top of the legs: the buttocks the area around the anus, and the vulvar, penile, and scrotal areas.

Many of these conditions on the genitals are sexually transmitted and uncommon in children or in those who are not sexually active. Conditions that may

be sexually transmitted (but can also be acquired by other means) include viral infections such as molluscum contagiosum, warts (caused by the human papillomavirus), and genital herpes; infestation by insects such as pubic lice and scabies; and fungal infections, such as that from jock itch (tinea cruris).

Non-contagious conditions that affect the genital region include psoriasis, intertrigo (breakdown and irritation of skin from moisture), allergic contact dermatitis, and irritant dermatitis, such as the condition diaper rash, which is common with infants.

Genital warts
Genital warts (condyloma acuminata) are caused by more than 30 types (strains) of human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity and there does not need to be vaginal or anal penetration in order to become infected. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have symptoms and will clear the infection on their own. However, some of the virus types may cause cervical cancer.

Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum contagiosum is a common painless and usually harmless viral infection of the skin. Although it is painless and usually goes away after several months, some cases can last a few years. Molluscum can spread to surrounding skin by scratching or rubbing and can spread to others by skin-to-skin contact or handling contaminated objects such as towels, toys, and clothing. Poor hygiene and warm, moist climates encourage the spread of molluscum. Use of public or school swimming pools is associated with childhood infections.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis is an inflammatory rash caused by direct chemical injury to the skin. Unlike allergic contact dermatitis, which appears 48–72 hours after exposure to an allergen, the symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis can result within a few hours if the exposure is a strong irritant.
  • Patients typically present complaining of a burning or stinging early in the course of irritant contact dermatitis.
  • As the irritation becomes chronic and the skin becomes continually inflamed, itching can become a predominant symptom.

Intertrigo
Intertrigo is irritation of touching skin surfaces in body fold regions (armpits, under the breasts, belly, buttocks, groin, and sometimes between fingers or toes). Intertrigo can be worsened by any conditions causing increased heat, wetness, and friction. Intertrigo may be complicated by superficial skin infection with yeast or bacteria.

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