Genital Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention.

Woman with genital psoriasis

Genital psoriasis is a severe but not very common disease condition. Studies have shown that 2-3% of people around the world and about 2.2% of people living in the United States have psoriasis.

This figure may look very negligible compared to the total population of people (over 8 billion from current research) on planet earth, however the severity of this disease makes it a topic worthy of discourse

What is Genital Psoriasis?

Before we look into what Genital Psoriasis means, let’s start by defining Psoriasis. Psoriasis is an inflammatory auto-immune condition that can affect the skin anywhere on your body.

It is more uncomfortable and harder to treat than other types of Psoriasis. It is also not an Infection, therefore cannot be contracted.

Genital Psoriasis is therefore a type of the skin condition psoriasis that you get on or around your genitals, that may be the only place you have it sometimes.

Some people may already be thinking it’s an STD (sexually transmitted disease) because it affects the genitals, well no, it’s not an STD, but it can change the way you feel about your body and may also affect your love life.

Research show that up to two-thirds of people with psoriasis experience genital psoriasis at some point, but rarely does psoriasis affect only the genitals (Ryan et al., 2015)

Genital psoriasis often develop around your genital region, it can flare up:

    • On the vulva or penis
    • On the upper thighs
    • In the folds of skin between your thigh and groin
    • Between your buttocks

      Causes of Genital Psoriasis?

First, you have to understand that the causes of genital psoriasis are the same as that of psoriasis.

You should also remember that when you have psoriasis, the cells of the skin multiplies rapidly than normal. The body is not able to get rid of all of them so they build up in scaly red patches. This happens mainly because there is a problem with the immune system.

We know the work of the immune system is to fight foreign invaders but when you have psoriasis, it makes a mistake and attacks healthy skin cells.

Next, psoriasis also tend to be caused by genetics and the environment. Though it may be present in your family lineage, it doesn’t affect everyone and is also not contagious.

Furthermore, it is possible not to have psoriasis flare for months, if the triggers are absent. Such triggers include:

    • Stress
    • Heavy alcohol consumption
    • Infection
    • Some medications
    • Injury
    • Smoking
    • Humidity
    • Certain Foods

Genital Psoriasis

 

Genital Psoriasis on the breast

Genital Psoriasis on the buttocks

What are the symptoms of genital psoriasis?

It may be hard to tell the difference between genital psoriasis, contact dermatitis and some other type of infection. Not all genital rash, is due to psoriasis.

The fact is this, there are various causes of genital rash. Therefore, it bests to be certain the cause of your own. So you can treat accurately.

You could have genital psoriasis and an infection. It is very possible to have both at the same time, which may require combination of treatment.

The skin around your genitals is also very delicate, so it is best to contact your doctor if you develop a rash on or around your genitals for diagnosis before treatment.

Common symptoms you should look out for are:

    • Itching: It’s the worst part of the disease. It can keep you up at night and you might scratch till you bleed.
    • Burning and stinging
    • Pain
    • Infections: The skin can become open and raw and leave open for bacterial and fungal infections.

Can genital psoriasis prevent sexual intercourse?

The answer is No, but depending on the severity of flare up. Genital psoriasis could make a person feel very irritated and friction from sexual contact could be painful and worsen symptoms.

However, it’s important to reiterate here again that genital psoriasis is not an infection and is not spread through sexual contact. It doesn’t affect fertility too.

In addition, you can also ask your doctor if condoms and lubricants are advisable and which is best.

Some of these tips could also be of great help:

    • Avoid or postpone sex when the skin on or around your genitals is raw.
    • Before sex, gently cleanse the area.
    • Men should use lubricated condom as this could lessen risk of irritation of the inflamed area.
    • After sex, wash the area. This helps reduce irritation.

What treatment is available for genital psoriasis?

Natural remedies and tips to reduce irritation

To prevent your symptoms from getting worse, take note of these tips:

    • Avoid personal hygiene products with fragrances or other harsh ingredients.
    • Keep the area clean.
    • After bathing or showering, use a soft towel and clean yourself dry.
    • Avoid rubbing the surface.
    • Use soft, absorbent toilet paper to reduce irritation.
    • Minimize friction by wearing cotton underwear or boxers, and avoid tight thongs.
    • Choose loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
    • Use very mild unscented soap — avoid antibacterial soap

At this point, it is important to state that genital psoriasis has no cure but it is manageable.

Medication therapy

A treatment plan for genital psoriasis may include:

    • Mild corticosteroid (with or without calcitriol ointment)
    • Medium-strength or potent corticosteroid (used for a short time)
    • Mild coal tar (use this only if a doctor recommends it)
    • Calcipotriene cream
    • Pimecrolimus cream or tacrolimus ointment
    • Stronger medicine such as cyclosporine, methotrexate, or a biologic

If you follow the treatment plan and it fails to work, tell your dermatologist. No one treatment works for everyone. You may need different treatment to get relief.

Dietary Changes

According to a 2017 survey, dietary changes may also help, they include:

    • eating fresh fruits and vegetables
    • eating whole grains
    • eating fat-free or low fat dairy
    • reducing alcohol consumption
    • eating lean proteins, like salmon, poultry, shrimp, walnuts, and soybeans
    • avoiding trigger foods, like red meat and foods high in saturated fat
    • maintaining a moderate weight

What to remember?

Studies have shown that despite the high prevalence of genital psoriasis, almost half of patients with genital lesions do not discuss their symptoms with their physician.

Lack of communication and awareness about genital psoriasis in the healthcare environment may result in underdiagnosed and under-treated genital psoriasis, subsequently increasing the risk of inappropriate self-treatment.

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