Have you been doing that awkward dance of trying to scratch covertly at an itch between your legs? Nobody likes to talk about genital rashes, as they can be disruptive and painful. It may be tempting to ignore a rash on your genitals because it is awkward to talk about, but it’s crucial to find treatment, whether an STD or an allergic reaction caused it.
Keep reading to learn more about genital rashes, what causes them, and how doctors treat them. If you suspect you have an STD, Rapid STD Testing is here for you. We have labs all over the US where we offer same-day STD testing in an empathetic and confidential environment.
Below, we have listed many STDs that cause itching and rashes in genital areas.
Genital warts are small, flesh-colored itchy bumps (or groups of bumps) caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). These bumps tend to appear on a woman’s labia and vagina opening and a man’s penis tip or foreskin, although they can also appear on the shaft of the penis and around the anus.
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), also called genital herpes, causes sores and lesions in the genital area. These sores, often clustered, start as fluid-filled sacs that ooze and then crust or scab over.
They can cause tingling, pain, and itchiness. Scratching herpes sores may also cause intense pain. Men and women can develop genital herpes around their genital areas, including their thighs.
Caused by a poxvirus, molluscum contagiosum produces small, whitish growths in the genital area. These bumps, or papules, are often painless and firm with a dimple in the middle. They may itch.
Although professionals classify these bumps on the genitalia as an STD because molluscum contagiosum spreads through skin-to-skin contact, these growths may appear on the faces and trunks of children. In people with healthy immune systems, these viral skin growths tend to disappear within six to nine months, but you can have papules removed by a doctor.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria. The first stage, called primary syphilis, often presents with a chancre, an open sore that can show up on the outer genitals and inside the vagina or rectum.
You may not immediately notice a chancre because chancres often cause no pain. Once the chancre heals (or is close to healed), you may see a new rash on your genitals or other parts of your body. These rashes range in appearance from reddish-brown spots on your palms to oozing blisters.
Syphilis can look like many conditions, so tell your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any other signs of infection, including fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, weight loss, or fatigue. To get an accurate diagnosis, call one of our Rapid STD Testing labs to speak with a healthcare professional.
You may develop a rash on your genitals due to a parasitic infection. Microscopic mites called Sarcoptes scabiei cause one such condition. It causes bumps that resemble pimples, usually in a line or grouped together.
You may also develop a red, itchy rash caused by the bites of public lice, also called crabs. You can likely see these tiny insects with your naked eye.
A healthy amount of yeast called Candida albicans lives on your skin, but an overgrowth of Candida can lead to infection. Candidiasis, also called a yeast infection, causes painful red rashes and often occurs in moist areas, including the genitals, armpits, and skin folds on stomachs or under breasts.
When a yeast infection gets transmitted through sexual contact, professionals consider it an STD. Yeast infections share many symptoms with urinary tract infections (UTIs). Click here to learn about differentiating between a UTI and a yeast infection.
STDs don’t cause every genital rash. Keep reading to learn about some other causes.
Medications can lead to genital rashes due to allergic reactions and side effects. These rashes vary depending on the drug but sometimes appear as blisters, swelling, redness, or red and gray plaques.
Skin conditions like psoriasis can cause rashes on your genitals. Although psoriasis often causes scaly rashes, genital psoriasis produces red, shiny patches that may itch or crack from dryness.
Dermatitis essentially means skin irritation. You may experience contact dermatitis after coming into contact with a substance, fabric, or other product that irritates your skin. This may appear as redness, itchiness, or swelling in the genital area.
Balanitis describes a symptom that may be caused by poor hygiene, an allergic reaction, an STD, or a yeast infection. It causes inflammation, redness, and tenderness on the tip of the penis and itchiness, an unpleasant odor, and foreskin discharge and bleeding.
You may develop a rash on your genitals due to an allergic reaction. These types of rashes tend to appear and spread quickly. You can prevent these genital rashes by avoiding the allergen.
Two types of inflammation commonly affect the genital area. The first is a rash caused by too much moisture called intertrigo (“diaper rash” in babies). It often looks red and shiny with scaly edges.
The second condition, hidradenitis, affects your sweat glands, leading to boils and skin lumps. These painful growths appear in moist areas like armpits and genital regions.
Sexual contact is not the only way to get a yeast infection. Poor hygiene or antibiotics may lead to a yeast infection. Weakened immune health caused by a viral infection like HIV may also cause this rash on the genital area.
Having a rash on your genitals causes a lot of discomfort and embarrassment, but treatments and methods exist to help you recover and prevent future outbreaks.
You can’t prevent every rash on your genitals, but there are a few things to keep in mind that may stop one from developing:
The last bullet point above often proves to be the most important. Your doctor can help you with a diagnosis and provide advice.
If you’re wondering what to put on a genital rash or what medication to take, that depends on what caused it. Your doctor may prescribe or recommend various treatments, including:
Your doctor will determine what the best treatment option is for your condition. They will also advise you to avoid sexual contact until the rash has cleared and you have finished all prescribed medication. It’s essential to follow these instructions to avoid infecting partners with transmissible diseases.