What Is GENITAL PSORIASIS? ▼▼ GENITAL PSORIASIS Natural Treatment
What to Do About Genital Psoriasis
Genital psoriasis can be hard to live with, especially when it comes to sex, but treatment can help. Get the facts, and some tips on how to treat it.
By Chris Iliades, MD
Medically Reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD
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When it comes to uncomfortable and embarrassing conditions, genital psoriasis would make most people's lists. But that doesn't need to be the case.
“Many people with genital psoriasis go undiagnosed for a long time. People may be too embarrassed to tell their doctors about their symptoms. Doctors may be too embarrassed to look," says Jeffrey I. Ellis, MD, a dermatologist for Northwell Health at Glen Cove Hospital in Glen Cove, New York. "This is especially true when genital psoriasis is the only type of psoriasis [a patient has]."
Usually, if you have genital psoriasis, you also have the more typical psoriasis on your knees and elbows. But for some, genital psoriasis may be the only form of the condition they have.
How It's Different From Other Forms of Psoriasis
Genital psoriasis usually doesn't have the thick scales and silvery plaques associated with other psoriasis. Inverse (or skinfold) psoriasis, which includes psoriasis of the genital areas, accounts for up to 7 percent of psoriasis cases.
In 2 to 5 percent of psoriasis cases, the disease is isolated to the skin of the genital area. Still, inverse psoriasis can also show up in the pubic area, upper thighs, groin creases, anal area, or on the genitals.
“Genital psoriasis looks like a red rash with sharp borders," says Dr. Ellis. "When it appears in the groin area, it is often mistaken for a fungus, like jock itch. When it appears on the genitals, it may be mistaken for a sexually transmitted disease."
Because of this, "we often see patients who have been diagnosed and treated incorrectly," he says. "A skin biopsy may be needed to make the diagnosis of genital psoriasis.”
Symptoms of genital psoriasis, like soreness, burning, and itching, are often made worse because the groin area is constantly exposed to friction, warmth, and moisture. “One of the characteristics of psoriasis is the tendency for it to get worse with any kind of skin trauma," Ellis says. "In the groin area, tight clothing, skin rubbing on skin, athletic activity, and sexual activity can all make symptoms worse."
A study published in June 2015 in theJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that patients who are younger at the onset of psoriasis, are male, or have more severe plaque psoriasis are more likely to develop genital psoriasis.
Treatments for Psoriasis on Your Genitals
Genital psoriasis occurs on skin that tends to be thinner and more sensitive than skin in other areas of the body. “Genital psoriasis is more sensitive, but also more responsive to treatment. You have to treat it gently, but you can often get symptoms to clear up completely,” Ellis says. Genital psoriasis treatments may include:
A report published in December 2012 in the journalDermatology and Therapydescribed a case of genital psoriasis that resisted other psoriasis treatments but responded well to the oral drug dapsone. Better known as an antibiotic for treating leprosy, dapsone cleared the genital psoriasis completely in four weeks and was continued for 10 months; the patient remained free of genital psoriasis for at least two years using only a .
“All the same treatments that we use for other psoriasis may be used for genital psoriasis," Ellis says. "Dapsone may be used as an alternative to other treatments." He notes that it's available as a pill or a gel.
Tips for Managing Genital Psoriasis
“The most important tip is to find a dermatologist that you feel comfortable with and can work closely with," says Ellis. "Self-care includes avoiding skin trauma and excessive dryness. Skin hydration is an important part of management."
Some ways to keep your skin hydrated include:
- Avoiding long periods of bathing in hot water
- Using a skin cleanser that is gentle on your skin
- Asking your doctor to suggest a good skin moisturizer
- Using your moisturizer after bathing, while your skin is still moist
- Applying cool compresses to dry and itchy areas
Genital Psoriasis and Your Sex Life
Genital psoriasis can make your sex life more complicated, but it's important to know that it does not interfere with sexual function. Start by sharing with your partner that genital psoriasis isn't contagious.
Here are some other helpful psoriasis sex tips:
- Use topical medication in the genital areas only as directed by your doctor. Don’t try to speed healing by using more.
- Keep your genital area clean.
- Do a gentle cleansing of the area after any sexual activity.
- Use a lubricated condom to avoid irritating inflamed genital areas.
“Sometimes it helps for a patient and his or her partner to come to a doctor visit together," Ellis says. "Knowledge is the key to living with psoriasis. Genital psoriasis is not contagious, and it's nothing you need to be ashamed about. Let your doctor know if you have any symptoms.
Video: Genital Psoriasis Treatment
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