What causes a genital rash?

The person who holds the crotch

By Jon Johnson  

Reviewed by Suzanne Falck, MD, FACP

Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment

A genital rash can cause
worry, especially if the reason for it is not fully understood. In most cases,
a genital rash is a symptom of another disorder.

A genital rash typically
refers to a spread of bumps, lesions, or irregular patches of skin on the
genitals. Understanding the causes and symptoms of genital rashes can help to
properly diagnose and treat them.


There are many causes for
genital rashes, some more concerning than others. Most people find that they
can identify the cause quickly, with the help of a doctor, and can take action
to treat it.

There are many different
symptoms of a genital rash, which vary based on the cause of the rash.
Common symptoms include:
  • sores, bumps, blisters, or
    lesions on the skin on and surrounding the genitals
  • thickening of affected skin
  • irritation or inflammation
  • itching or burning sensations
  • discolored skin ranging from
    pink, red, or yellow
  • discharge from the genitals
  • pain during intercourse
  • pelvic pain
  • fever
  • enlarged lymph nodes
In any case, where the cause
of the rash is unknown, it is important to see a doctor or dermatologist for a
proper diagnosis. A full diagnosis will include a physical examination as the
doctor needs to know the specifics about the rash to be able to treat it.

Doctors may also perform a
swab test on discharge or on the surface of lesions to check for specific
infectious causes. In some cases, a doctor may also want to do a skin scrape,
where they take a small piece of a lesion or wart to be investigated. Other
cases may require blood work to be done as well.
While there are home tests
that can be used to check for the presence of some STDs, the most reliable way
to diagnose any genital rash is by seeing a doctor.

There are many different
treatments for a genital rash, each influenced by its cause. There are some
common threads through all of these treatments.
For instance, while waiting to
be diagnosed by a doctor, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or spray may
help with an itchy rash on the penis or vagina. Doctors commonly prescribe
creams such as these to treat symptoms while they are investigating an exact
cause. Hydrocortisone cream may also be purchase online.
Body lice and pubic lice are
usually removed with a medicated wash. This is left on the genitals for a long
time to kill the infestation, and then rinsed away. Scabies is usually treated
with medicated ointments and creams.
Treating yeast infections is
done with antifungal medications, which come as creams and powders with pills
rarely necessary for rashes. Yeast infections are also treated using home
remedies, such as yogurt or oregano oil. According to one study, oregano oil
shows promise in getting rid of the fungus that causes yeast infection. Oregano
oil can be purchased online.
Cases of genital warts are
either treated with prescription medications or by removing them with liquid
nitrogen. The best option is for a doctor to remove them.
Bacterial infections like
syphilis are treated with antibiotics.
There is no known cure for
genital herpes, but the symptoms are often controlled with medications.
Similarly, there are no known
cures for autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, but some medications help
control the symptoms caused by the disorder.
If the genital rash is due to
an allergy, removing the allergen will usually allow it to clear up. The
symptoms can be treated in the meantime, and a doctor can run allergy tests if
the exact allergen is unknown.
Preventing a genital rash

Practicing safe sex will help
avoid rashes caused by STIs. Eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising
will keep the immune system strong and help to fight off germs. Allergic
reactions can be prevented by avoiding the things that trigger the allergies.

For many causes of a genital
rash, the symptoms can be removed by treating the underlying cause. Even
conditions that have no known cure can be successfully controlled with
By working directly with a
doctor to diagnose and treat the rash, the outlook for most cases is good.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.