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Is My Itchy Skin an STD or Genital Psoriasis?

If you suddenly develop dry, scaly patches of skin around your genital area that are red, angry, and intensely itchy, your first thought might be ‘Do I have an STD?’ However, Genital Psoriasis is a condition that can occur on the upper thighs and buttocks that has similar symptoms to various common STDs.

In this article, we aim to outline the conditions that can commonly be mistaken for Genital Psoriasis, to help you determine the cause of your itchy skin.

What is Genital Psoriasis?

Genital psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that affects the genital area, and the surrounding skin of the upper thighs and buttocks. In some cases, this may be the only place on the body affected however, some people will have psoriasis on other parts of their body.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition caused by an individual having an increased production of skin cells. This build-up of skin cells causes red, flaky, itchy patches of skin that can be sore and appear scaly. It is thought that the condition is associated with the immune system.

Is Genital Psoriasis an STD?

Genital Psoriasis is not an STD and it cannot be transmitted to another person. However, it can be uncomfortable, sore, and itchy, which is why it can be mistaken for STDs such as Herpes, Trichomoniasis, and Genital Warts.

Symptoms of Genital Psoriasis

Symptoms of Genital Psoriasis are very similar to other genital conditions. These include:

  • Intense itching
  • Dry patches of skin in the genital region that usually appear red, but can have thick silvery scales 
  • Infection as a result of dry, cracked skin
  • The affected patch of skin may crack, bleed, and be sore
  • Burning and stinging sensations
  • Pain due to irritation, sweat, chafing, and sex

What Can Be Mistaken for Genital Psoriasis?

As Genital Psoriasis has some similar symptoms to various STDs, it can be mistaken as such. It can also be mistaken for other skin conditions or infections. These include:

STDs that can be mistaken for Genital Psoriasis:

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is the most common STD to be mistaken for Genital Psoriasis as they share many of the same symptoms. Symptoms of Genital Herpes include pain or itching, small red bumps, and scaly scabs which can appear on the buttocks and upper thighs, as with Genital Psoriasis. However, Genital Psoriasis shouldn’t cause pain internally or anywhere other than the patch of skin affected.

Genital Warts

Genital Warts may cause small, painless growths and lumps that are often flesh-coloured around the vagaina, penis, anus, or upper thighs. These lumps may be confused for the patches of skin caused by Psoriasis as they can be itchy and uncomfortable. 

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis can cause itchiness, redness, and soreness to the genital region, like Genital Psoriasis, however will also often cause difficulty urinating and a change to the vaginal discharge in women, which is not associated with Genital Psoriasis. 

Skin conditions and infections that can be mistaken for Genital Psoriasis

Thrush

Thrush is well known to be a condition that causes itchiness in the vaginal area, however this is usually limited to the vagina and labia, where Genital Psoriasis will normally be located on the upper thighs and buttocks. Unlike Genital Psoriasis, Thrush is also often associated with thick, white discharge (often said to resemble cottage cheese), and pain when urinating. 

Eczema

Eczema is very easy to mistake for Psoriasis, as many of their symptoms overlap. These include dry, sensitive, itchy skin that can appear red, inflamed and scaly at times. The main main difference is that Psoriasis may also be painful, or cause burning and stinging sensations, whereas Eczema will sometimes cause intense itching to the point that you may make yourself bleed from scratching. 

Ringworm 

Ringworm, also known as Jock Itch in the genital area, is a fungal infection that will usually cause a rash that may appear red, silver, or darker than your natural skin tone, and is scaly, dry, and itchy. Unlike Genital Psoriasis, Ringworm can be transmitted to another person via close contact and infected objects. As symptoms of Ringworm are so similar to those of Genital Psoriasis, it is recommended to consult a GP if you think you may have these symptoms to avoid spreading the infection. 

What Causes Genital Psoriasis?

Whilst the exact cause isn’t known, Psoriasis is an immune disorder where skin cells are replaced more quickly than usual. Your body produces new skin cells in the deepest layers of the skin, which then gradually move up to the surface of the skin where they die and flake off. Usually, this process takes around 3-4 weeks, but in cases of Psoriasis it can happen within 3-7 days. 

Many people that suffer from Psoriasis can go years without it being an issue. It can begin for the first time, or flare up for a number of reasons, with triggers including:

  • Injury or trauma to the skin
  • Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Some medications
  • Infections
  • Other immune disorders

How is Genital Psoriasis Treated?

To effectively treat Genital Psoriasis, it is best to first be seen by a dermatologist  that can confirm your diagnosis and recommend a course of action to treat the condition. Whilst there is no test for Psoriasis, a dermatologist should be able to diagnose the condition on sight. 

Genital Psoriasis can be tough to treat due to the nature of the environment, and various treatment options may work for some, but not for others. Consult with your doctor or dermatologist to find something that works for you.

Treatments for Genital Psoriasis include:

  • Low-dose steroid cream
  • Mild vitamin D cream
  • Calcineurin inhibitors
  • Dapsone (Aczone)
  • Systemic medicines
  • Moisturiser
  • Weight loss
  • Gluten-free diet
  • Wearing loose clothing with natural fibres like cotton, linen, or silk

Sexual Health Testing With Your Sexual Health

As Genital Psoriasis can appear to be and has very similar symptoms to various STDs, it’s a good idea to be tested for sexually transmitted infections. Your Sexual Health offers a wide range of STI tests at sexual health clinics across the UK. We also offer home testing kits against a number of STDs, and comprehensive profile testing for peace of mind. Book online, or contact our friendly team for more information today.