As you may know, there are times when a VP maintainer will post on behalf of someone who wishes to remain anonymous. This is one such post. Thanks for helping them get the answers they need.
For the VP Team
For maybe 6-8 months or so, I've been intermittently falling victim to some sort of a rash on my outer labia. It seems to be about where the outer labia come into contact with my panties/pantyliners. It started on just my right labia and later spread to my left as well, but hasn't expanded beyond the "contact with panty area" region.
At first, I thought it was some shaving irritation after I had an encounter with a very poorly-made disposable razor that cut me up pretty badly, so I stopped shaving for a while, but having my hair just seemed to irritate it more and I eventually fell back to my normal shaving routine, which actually didn't seem to aggravate the rash. I treated it as possible dry skin, and it seemed to improve a bit at first, but then proceeded to get worse. It cleared up to some extent, and came back. It took on the symptoms of eczema (dry and flaky + moist and weepy areas), which I've suffered from since literally days after birth and is typically triggered by allergies and stress and was also flaring up at the time, so I tried treating it as eczema, and it went away for quite a while. It came back, I treated it as eczema, and it went away again. This continued until I ran out of my last bits of eczema cream, which I really didn't have much of to begin with; I picked up some OTC hydrocortizone cream, and that helped with the itching and inflammation, but didn't have much of an effect on the rash itself. I lost the cream and didn't have any opportunity to pick up more, and my rash again returned with a vengeance. It became so itchy that I absolutely couldn't bear it and scratched it to the point of bleeding, which I know was a mistake, but I was desperate to make the itching stop. I started taking an OTC antihistamine to help with that, but that just treats a symptom, and not the underlying cause, so that was a stopgap measure at best. I stopped wearing my panytliners because the fuzzy outer cloth was agony on the raw, weepy skin of my poor outer labia. I started splashing a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture on the area after shaving, too, in case that might be relevant. (It's rinsed off in the shower.)
More recently, it occurred to me that it might be fungal in nature (exterior yeast infection, maybe, or some form of jock itch/diaper rash/etc.) and I figured it probably couldn't make it worse, so I started applying a topical fungal treatment to the area 2x daily, and the relief was incredible! The weeping stopped and the whole area began to dry out more, not in the flaky rashy way, but more like regular dry skin. I started mixing some Eucerin in with the fungal treatment and in the course of just a few days, it's almost completely gone and the skin is returning to a more normal color. (It was quite red with irritation, and even when the rash itself was gone, the skin remained darker/redder/wrinklier than I would consider to be normal for me. I've been really insecure about the possibility of scarring or permanent damage to the area. I like my vulva and want it to be happy!)
With that in mind, I'm left with some questions. I realize that I ideally need to seek the attention of a medical professional, but my present circumstances make that difficult, and it's unlikely that I'll be able to go in for as long as several more months, so I'm stuck trying to reason this out the best I can and treat it naturally/OTC.
Is it possible that this did begin as eczema brought on by extreme stress, but that the broken skin was infiltrated by a fungal infection? Could the infection have been spread by exposure to my own vaginal secretions? To the best of my knowledge, I have a steel vagina and have never had a yeast infection, but I was experiencing some pain with arousal/intercourse a while back that cleared up. As far as I could tell, it seemed to be the result of a combination of vaginal dryness/delayed secretion response, which was kind of weird because I typically produce a lot of vaginal fluids, and some tightness in my vaginal scarring that was probably brought on a period of abstinence. Still... if this is an external yeast infection, should I treat for an internal yeast infection as well, just to be on the safe side, or is that overkill if I'm not having any symptoms? I handwash my underwear, cloth pads, and cloth pantyliners in a "sensitive skin" dye- and fragrance-free detergent and rinse them well, then hang to dry; is there anything else I need to do to ensure that I'm not re-infecting myself? (Underwear is cotton, clothies are minkee and zorb from TreeHugger.) My husband has had no symptoms of any kind even though we've had sex during a flare-up (I know, I know, poor decision.) Should he be treated for an infection as well? If so, what's the best way to go about it? I have zero experience with male YIs. Thinking on it now, I realize that I should have been tracking my flare-ups and sexual activity on a calendar to see if there's any correlation, in case we're passing a YI back and forth, but it didn't occur to me before.
As an aside, I think that the chances of this being an STI are slim to none. My husband and I have been together for a very long time and are mutually exclusive, and I've no reason to believe that he's been unfaithful. I was tested before we married and again a few years ago, at the insistence of my gyn at the time, and the results were negative. If any of you are absolutely convinced that I need STI testing, please feel free to speak up, but I thought I'd mention the unbroken monogamy because it's a factor and I really doubt that he's had a moment of weakness on that front.
No recommendations for the application of aloe, either, please. I'm allergic, of all things!
Sorry for all of the questions, and thank you for any help and advice that you can offer.