Medically reviewed by The Dermatologists and written by Dr. Alexander Börve
- Requires medical diagnosis
- Symptoms: Shiny rashes, itching, stinging or scales
- Color: Typically red
- Location: Genital areas, upper thighs, skinfold, buttocks crease
- Treatment: Topical creams or UV light therapy
Genital psoriasis is psoriasis that develops around the genitals. The condition is not contagious and usually inherited. It can be triggered by yeast infections, and those with a genetic predisposition are more susceptible to psoriasis. Psoriasis usually manifests around age 20.
Usually, if you have genital psoriasis, you also have the more typical psoriasis on knees and elbows. But for some, genital psoriasis may be the only type you have.
Symptoms of Genital Psoriasis
Genital psoriasis can sometimes manifest as well-demarcated, red, shiny rashes on the genitals in women and men. It can also show up as smooth, dry, red lesions, without the scale typically associated with other types of psoriasis. Most common of genital psoriasis is the so-called inverse psoriasis under the breasts, near groin, and armpits. The rash generally itches and stings.
In the genital area, they are generally symmetrically spread over the skin of the labia, and sometimes around the anus. It can flare up on the pubis (the region above genitals), vulva or penis, but rarely affects the inside of the vagina. Psoriasis of the vulva often appears as a smooth, non-scaly redness. Scratching this area may cause an infection, create dryness, and result in thickening of the skin and further itching. Psoriasis of the penis may appear as many small, red patches on the glans, or shaft. The skin may be scaly or smooth and shiny. Genital psoriasis affects both circumcised and uncircumcised males.
It can also appear on the upper thighs, which often consists of many small, round patches that are red and scaly. The condition in between the thighs is easily irritated, especially if the thighs rub together when you walk or run.
Psoriasis generally appears as non-scaly and reddish-white in the folds of skin between your thigh and groin, or near the anus. The skin may have fissures (cracks). People who are overweight or athletic may have an infection called intertrigo, which looks similar to a yeast infection in the folds of the skin.
Psoriasis in the buttocks crease may be red and non-scaly or red with very heavy scales. The skin in this area is not as fragile as that of the groin.
What can I do?
Using quality toilet paper, loose-fitting underwear and even using a fiber supplement to ease defecation can help prevent a flare-up. Using lubricants or a lubricated condom can help prevent a friction injury from sex.
Should I seek medical care?
It can be hard to tell the difference between psoriasis of the genitals and contact dermatitis or some types of infection. Even if you have psoriasis, it’s not a given that a genital rash is due to psoriasis. You should seek a healthcare professional to diagnose your skin condition if you suspect that you have genital psoriasis.
Treatment for Genital Psoriasis
While there is no known cure, the disease can be managed. Topical creams and UV light are the most common treatments for genital psoriasis. Vaginal infection due to psoriasis is a fairly common problem that can be treated with potent cortisone creams. Avoid tight-fitting clothing which can cause itchiness and pain.
Ann Pietrangelo. What You Should Know About Genital Psoriasis. Healthline. http://www.healthline.com/health/genital-psoriasis#Overview1
Chris Iliades, MD. What to Do About Genital Psoriasis. Everyday Health. Available at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/psoriasis/what-to-do-about-genital-psoriasis.aspx
National Psoriasis Foundation. Genital Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/specific-locations/genitals
National Psoriasis Foundation. Genital psoriasis: How to treat it, how to manage it. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/genital-psoriasis-how-to-treat-it-how-to-manage-it
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