STD Information: Allergic Vaginitis


Sometimes referred to as 'chemical vaginitis,' this condition is a great mimicker. Because it often affects not only the vagina itself but external tissues (the vulva), it is often mistaken for a yeast infection, or even new onset genital herpes. It's due to genital contact with an irritant, the most common offending agents being latex or components of spermicides, lubricants, a new detergent/soap/bath gel, silicone sex toys, or 'feminine' deodorants.  Anything that can cause an allergic skin reaction (like a rash) can cause a similar reaction on mucous membranes, including genital tissues.

  • Symptoms: red, painful or irritated or itching vulva; increased vaginal discharge. The vulva may have whitish or grayish striations or hue, along with some scaly skin.
  • Treatment: if you can figure out the offending substance, discontinue use. Antihistamines (Benadryl for example) may help relieve symptoms. Low-dose (0.5%) cortisone cream is also effective, but consult your health care provider before applying any steroid cream to the genital area. 

    Please note that for the purpose of our web site we are focusing primarily on woman to woman transmission (WTW) and only providing a general overview of the infections themselves. You may want to check out our Bibliography and Links sections for more in depth information or contact us with specific questions through STD Q&A's.