Genital Skin Conditions

A wide range of skin conditions can affect the genitals. 

To read Stuart's recent co-authored publication about genital skin problems, click here   

Some of the signs and symptoms people notice are:

Lumps and bumps
Lumps and bumps on genital skin can be caused by a range of conditions. Warts and molluscum are both viruses that cause lumps on genital skin. A range of normal anatomical features that can appear as lumps on genital skin: these are harmless and do not require treatment. Rarely, serious conditions, including cancers can present as lumps. Diagnosis of genital skin lumps is best done by an experienced health professional. 

There are a number of skin conditions that cause rashes on the genital skin. Often these are related to a skin condition that affects several parts of the body, but sometimes they are restricted to the genitals. Common causes of rashes are eczema (dermatitis) and psoriasis. There are several other less common conditions that require careful examination and sometimes extra testing to diagnose. 

Ulcers, sores and skin splits
Sores and splits are a common problem for genital skin. The most common cause is probably eczema (dermatitis), although herpes and Candida (thrush) infections may look identical. Diagnosis requires collecting tests for viral, bacterial and fungal infections and a very careful examination of the affected skin. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and often must be tailored to the individual person’s situation. 

Tight foreskin
Tightness of the foreskin is a common problem. The commonest cause is simply that the foreskin failed to stretch enough during growth, but some important skin conditions can cause tightening of the foreskin. These skin conditions include lichen sclerosus and balanitis. Both of these conditions can be managed, but only after careful diagnosis. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, but most cases are treated with topical treatments (creams and ointments). 

Genital pain
A medical practitioner should always investigate pain that occurs on the genitals. Determining the cause of pain can take several steps, and treatment is tailored to any underlying cause. While most people are found to have a treatable cause, some have less common conditions such as burning vulva, or other conditions. 

Rashes around the buttocks or anus
The skin around the bottom is quite prone to develop problems. Common symptoms include itchiness, pain, rashes, splits, and lumps. There are many conditions which lead to these symptoms: some infections, some skin problems, and occasionally cancers may cause a wide range of symptoms. These conditions require a careful examination and usually a range of tests to determine the cause. Most people respond well to treatment targeted at the underlying problem. 

Dr Stuart Aitken is a specialist sexual health physician, and has been practicing on the Gold Coast since 2003. During that time, he has developed his interest in the diagnosis, management and prevention of genital skin problems. He has an interest in genital skin problems and understands that these conditions can significantly affect quality of life, relationships and self-esteem. 

Stuart is an advocate for evidence based practice for dermatological problems, and enjoys collaborating with patients to get the best outcomes. Helping patients understand their condition, reduce the symptoms, reduce recurrence and use safe, effective treatments underlies his treatment philosophy.  

Stuart co-authored a two-part review of genital skin problems, and published this in Australian Doctor. 

Stuart has been active in teaching about genital skin problems for many years. He taught genital dermatology through University of Queensland’s Sexual Health Course for General Practitioners for over ten years, and has been invited to speak on the topic at several conferences. He has taught workshops and given lectures on genital dermatology to medical students at Bond University, and Griffith University Medical Schools.  He taught the genital dermatology components of Family Planning Queensland’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Course for over ten years.