Vulval Discomfort

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-724/2021
  • Departments: Gynaecology
  • Last Updated: 12 March 2021


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your condition.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is vulval discomfort?

Vulval discomfort may include persistent pain, burning and itching of the vulva.  This may follow a vaginal infection such as thrush, childbirth or other sources of genital trauma. In a significant number of cases, this may be of sudden onset. The advice below is for these cases have no defined cause or to support any treatment to eliminate original problem that led to this discomfort.

What do I need to do to help my condition?

  •  We recommend that you only clean the vulval area once a day; avoiding scrubbing with flannels and brushes. Pat dry the area.
  •  We suggest that you use only plain water to wash with; you should always use an emollient cream (emollients are moisturising treatments applied directly to the skin to reduce water loss and this covers the area with a protective film) and moisturiser. Showers are preferable rather than a bath.
  • Avoid the use of soaps, bubble baths, deodorants and vaginal wipes from coming into contact with the vulval area as this may irritate the area.
  •  If passing urine makes your symptoms worse, then wash the urine away from the vulval area using a jug of warm water whilst on the toilet and apply emollient cream twice daily.
  •  Avoid the use of non-prescribed creams (for example over the counter thrush treatments).
  •  Avoid using antiseptics in the bath.
  •  Wear loose fitting cotton underwear.
  • Consider a low oxalate diet
  •  Try washing undergarments with WATER only. Fabric conditioners and biological washing powders contain potential irritants to the skin.
  •  Only use white or unbleached toilet tissue.
  •  When washing your hair, avoid the shampoo from coming into contact
    with vulval area. You may want to try washing your hair in the sink.
  •  Use a moisturiser especially if you have urinary incontinence.
  •  Organic cotton underwear and other natural healthcare products may help.
  • Avoid or reduce the use of intimacy gadgets for the time-being

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Gynaecology Outpatients, Women and Children’s Hospital (01482) 607829

Useful Contacts

Vulval Pain Society
VPS, PO Box 7804, Nottingham, NG3 5ZQ

Worldwide Lichen Sclerosus Support (formerly known as National Lichen Sclerosus Support Group) Contact with queries or phone Helpline 07765 947599. (operate weekdays from 4pm to 6pm, subject to volunteer availability)

Information on gynaecology services

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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