A genital rash is a skin symptom that can be caused by a number of health problems and can occur on any part of the genital area.
Rashes are normally reddish in color, may be painful or itchy, and may include bumps or sores.
“If you have a skin rash that you can’t explain, you should see a doctor.”
There are a number of causes of genital infections.
- Jock itch, a fungal infection, or ringworm of the groin area. The rash is red, itchy, and scaly, and it may blister.
- Diaper rash, a yeast infection that affects babies because of the warm, moist environment in diapers. It’s red and scaly and may include bumps or blisters.
- Vaginal yeast infection, an infection that affects the vagina and often occurs as a result of taking antibiotics. It causes itching, redness, swelling, and white vaginal discharge.
- Molluscum contagiosum, a viral infection that affects the skin and appears as firm, isolated, round bumps. They may be itchy and inflamed.
- Balanitis, an inflammation of the foreskin or the head of the penis that’s usually caused by bacterial or fungal growth and is more likely to occur in those who have uncircumcised penises. It leads to itchiness, redness, and a discharge.
There are parasites that can cause a genital rash.
- Pubic lice are tiny insects. They lay eggs in the genital area and are most often spread from person to person through sexual contact. An infestation of pubic lice causes itchiness and sometimes sores.
- Body lice are different from pubic lice and are larger. They live in clothing and on the skin, and feed on blood. They cause an itchy rash on the skin.
- Scabies is an itchy skin rash that’s caused by very small mites. They burrow into the skin and cause intense itching, especially at night.
There are other possible reasons for a genital rash.
- Contact dermatitis is a common type of rash caused when skin comes into contact with an allergen or with an irritant such as a harsh chemical substance. Latex is an allergen that may produce a rash in the genital area because it’s commonly used in condoms.
- Psoriasis is a common skin condition. The cause is unknown, but doctors suspect it’s an autoimmune disorder. It can produce a pinkish, scaly, itchy rash anywhere on the body. Psoriasis may also produce sores in the penis area.
- Lichen planus is less common but also produces itchy skin rashes. Doctors are unsure of the exact cause, but it’s thought to be due to an allergen or autoimmune disorder. In the genital area, lichen planus can produce sores.
There are other possible causes of genital rashes.
- Genital herpes, a virus that can produce painful, blister-like sores in the genital area.
- Genital warts, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They’re small and flesh-colored and may be itchy.
- Syphilis, a bacterial infection that’s spread through sexual contact. It produces a rash that can be anywhere on the body. The rash isn’t necessarily itchy.
A doctor needs to determine the cause of a genital rash.
You can connect to a primary care doctor in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.
The diagnosis process can involve a lot of things.
A physical examination
“The doctor will look at the rash’s features. Let them know about any redness or discharge.”
They will look at other areas of the skin that may be affected. They may look for scabies by studying the webs of your fingers.
Doctors can take vaginal discharge and any discharge around the penis.
Skin scraping or biopsies
The doctor can order a skin scraper or a skin biopsy, where they remove a wart, a lesion, or skin cells.
The tissue is examined under a microscope. The findings can be used to diagnose conditions.
Some causes of genital rashes, such as herpes and syphilis, may be detected through blood work.
Home diagnostic tests can be used to test for STDs, but they may not be as reliable as tests run by a doctor. If you use a home diagnostic test and get a positive result, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
The underlying cause of a genital rash is what determines the treatment needed.
OTC creams such as hydrocortisone can be used to treat the itch of a rash.
A doctor may prescribe a cream to treat the underlying condition.
If the affected area is kept clean and dry, some skin infections will heal without treatment.
A doctor may recommend treatments for other conditions.
Vaginal yeast infections
These can be treated with OTC or prescription medication.
The disease is treated with antibiotics.
These are treated with prescription drugs. A doctor can remove visible warts by freezing them or using liquid nitrogen.
The condition can be managed with drugs.
Pubic and body lice
A medicated wash can be used to eliminate the disease, which can be left on for a period of time.
You should wash clothing and bedding in hot water.
Swelling can be treated with creams or creams.
The rash will clear up if the allergen is removed.
There is no cure for autoimmune disorders, but certain medications can help control symptoms and skin conditions caused by these disorders.
Lichen planus occurring in autoimmune disorders
This can be treated with OTC antihistamines or prescription medication skin creams, corticosteroid shots, or pills.
The cause of a genital rash will determine the prevention of a genital rash.
You can prevent the spread of the STDs.
- Condoms and dental dams are barrier methods that protect against STDs.
- Take medications to treat conditions that are not new.
You can prevent allergic reactions.
- “When it’s increased risk, take the drugs.”
- The reaction can be avoided if the allergens are not present.
Maintaining a balanced diet and lifestyle will keep you in the best shape you can be in, which will boost your immune system and help it fight off infections that could cause genital rash.
If you have a specific concern, you should seek the advice of a doctor.
The outlook is good for most people with rashes.
“The rash will clear up if the underlying cause is treated. Good hygiene can prevent and cure parasites and infections that aren’t STIs.”
The right medications can be used to manage conditions that have no cure.
If caught early, syphilis can be cured with penicillin. If it is later found, more courses of antibiotics may be needed.