Vulvar Pain: Care Instructions

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The vulva is the genital area outside the body that surrounds the opening of the vagina and urethra. The cause of vulvar pain is not always clear, but it may include inflamed nerves, allergies, skin diseases, or infection. You may have pain just in the vulva, or it may reach to the rectal area or legs. Vulvar pain can flare up with activities such as sitting on a bicycle, having sex, or inserting a tampon.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Relieve itching with a cold water compress or cool baths. Do not scratch the area.
  • Wear loose-fitting, cotton clothes. Avoid nylon and other fabric that holds moisture close to the skin. This may allow an infection to start.
  • Avoid soaps and other products that can irritate your skin, such as vaginal sprays or douches.
  • Limit exercise that can irritate the vulva, such as bike riding or horseback riding.
  • Avoid hot baths, and do not use soaps or bath products to wash your vulva. Rinse with water only, and gently pat the area dry.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding.
  • You have new or worse belly or pelvic pain.
  • You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.