REVIEWS: The Vulvar Dermatoses


Lara J. Burrows, MD, MSc, 3 Washington Circle NW, Suite 205, Washington, DC 20037, USA. Tel: (202) 887-0568; Fax: (202) 659-6481; E-mail:


Introduction.  Dermatologic diseases of the vulva may cause dyspareunia. These disorders may be overlooked by gynecologists and urologists because of lack of residency training experience. Dermatologists who are most familiar with these diseases are infrequently trained in vulvovaginal examination. As such, these disorders are often improperly diagnosed and treated.

Aim.  To describe the presentation and management of the major vulvar dermatoses including irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, lichen sclerosus, lichen simplex chronicus, and lichen planus.

Main Outcome Measure.  Data from a peer review literature search on the topic of vulvar dermatoses.

Methods.  The literature for this review article was obtained through a Medline search. Appropriate dermatology textbooks were utilized for additional information.

Results.  A comprehensive survey of the vulvar dermatoses.

Conclusion.  Vulvar dermatoses must be considered a part of the differential diagnosis of any woman with a sexual pain disorder. As such, healthcare providers who evaluate and treat women with dyspareunia must become familiar with the most common dermatologic disorders of the vulva. Burrows LJ, Shaw HA, and Goldstein AT. The vulvar dermatoses. J Sex Med 2008;5:276–283.