GENITAL ALLERGY: REASONS, SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT.
Genital allergy is an allergic reaction that is characterized by damage to the skin and visible mucous membranes in the genital area. Manifestations are hyperemia, swelling of soft tissues, itching, burning sensation and dry skin in the affected area.
Pathology is easy to identify upon examination, and its allergic nature is determined by the history of the disease (repeated reactions in contact with an allergen). Specific antibodies are also determined in the blood and allergological tests are performed.
Therapeutic tactics is to avoid contact with the allergen, as well as the appointment of desensitizing therapy. But the treatment is symptomatic – with increased sensitivity of the body, manifestations of genital allergies can be regular.
Genital allergy is a pathology that is quite widespread and which is often confused with sexually transmitted or gynecological diseases. The disorder is almost equally often diagnosed in men and women. Genital allergy is a local reaction. But at the same time, residents of large smoky megacities suffer more often than residents of small settlements located in ecologically clean areas – moreover, the difference in incidence is growing every year (over the past 10 years it has almost doubled). Children are equally affected, as are adults.
Genital allergy can be considered both as a separate disease without the presence of symptoms from other organs and systems (symptoms are observed only from the external genital organs), and the manifestation of other diseases.
So, the described pathology is often manifested in pathologies such as:
- allergic dermatitis – an inflammatory reaction of the skin to an allergen;
- Lyell’s syndrome (toxic epidermal necrolysis) – the most severe variant of allergic bullous dermatitis (skin lesions with blistering);
- urticaria – a skin disease of allergic origin, in which severely itchy, pale pink blisters quickly appear.
REASONS FOR GENITAL ALLERGY
The immediate cause of the development of the described pathology is the ingress of allergens into the blood. These are substances that literally force the body to react perversely.
As with other allergic conditions, the pathways for the entry of antigens can be:
In the first case, allergens enter directly on the skin and mucous membranes of the external genitalia.
In the second case, allergens penetrate:
- through the respiratory tract;
- parenteral – injection route;
- through the gastrointestinal tract.
Then they enter the bloodstream, which spreads throughout the body, including to the genitals.
The causes of allergies of the external genitalia are most often:
- medical preparations;
- hygiene products;
- decorative cosmetics;
- animal hair, bird fluff.
The role of contraceptives is as follows:
- mechanical protective equipment (condoms) can provoke an allergic reaction due to direct contact with the genitals.
Allergens are able to act the substances that process condoms, as well as the latex from which they are made;
- the same action can occur on the part of spermicidal (killing sperm) drugs. They can be in the form of ointments, gels and vaginal suppositories (vaginal suppositories).
Sperm is a biological substance, which means that, along with other organic elements, it can provoke the development of an allergic reaction. This occurs when seminal fluid enters the woman’s labia and pubic skin. It was determined that the immediate cause of this reaction are sperm glycoproteins – protein-carbohydrate complexes.
Medicines act as allergens in genital hypersensitivity most often.
A perverted reaction of the body can occur when they are used:
- local – in the form of ointments, gels, suppositories, liquid for washing and douching;
- systemic – when taking medication in the form of tablets or injection forms.
Sometimes, with severe allergies, the body of one of the sexual partners can react sharply upon contact with ointments and gels, which the second partner treated its skin with.
As a rule, drug genital allergy occurs when solutions and ointments are used. But its more pronounced manifestations were noted with their systemic use. Most often, this was observed when taking:
- sulfa drugs;
- iodine-containing drugs.
Hygiene products are increasingly causing genital allergies, because shower gels and cosmetics for intimate hygiene have an increasingly complex structure, and at least one of the components can be an allergen. Often, patients come to the clinic with genital allergies, which arose after the use of hand-made hygiene products – whether it was home-made soap, whether it was an “ordinary” decoction of herbs. Almost casuistic cases of genital allergy are described when using sanitary napkins, tampons, and diapers in bedridden patients.
How can cosmetics provoke the development of genital allergies? Some women and even men prefer to do hair coloring in intimate places. Since these zones are distinguished by increased delicacy, even a not too aggressive allergen can provoke a perverse reaction from the skin and mucous membranes when a small amount of such a substance gets on them.
Cases of genital allergies have become more frequent due to wearing underwear alone.
The reason for this is:
- creation of a print on fabric using allergenic paints;
- low quality cheap materials;
- manufacture of linen on uncertified (virtually unauthorized) home “industrial” lines, where the production process does not comply with established technological standards;
- the presence in the fabric of synthetic fibers (even in small quantities) or latex.
Animal hair and bird fluff are small enough to cause genital allergies. This can be observed if old “grandmother” pillows are used, or when cats are allowed to sleep in bed.
Most often, genital allergy manifests itself in the form of contact dermatitis – an inflammatory lesion of the skin after touching low-quality pants. In this case, the pathology develops as a delayed type reaction.
The mechanism for the development of genital allergies is classic, as with other allergic manifestations. Basically, these are reactions of the so-called immediate type, less often delayed (a typical manifestation of the latter is contact dermatitis).
In all cases, the provocateur is contact with the allergen, after which it begins to be recognized by the immune system, which immediately forms an allergic readiness – that is, upon subsequent contact with the allergen, it does not “prepare” for a long time to “repulse” the foreign element, but does so without delay . This is because the patient develops cells of immunological memory – they very quickly trigger a distorted reaction of the body in response to a new contact with the allergen. The following phenomenon may also be observed: with each subsequent contact, such a reaction is more and more pronounced.
What happens in tissues with an allergic reaction of an immediate type? Upon repeated contact, the following chain is quickly formed: antibodies are produced at an accelerated rate (elements that are designed to destroy antigens), and they, in turn, stimulate skin and mucous cells, which immediately release substances that provoke redness, itching, and burning (in this case – from the genitals). Such substances are histamine, serotonin and some other compounds.
Slowed reactions form rather slowly with prolonged and repeated contact with allergens – for example, with:
- stay in the flowering zone;
- regular use of condoms from the same manufacturer;
- constant wearing of synthetic underwear and so on.
Symptoms of Sexual Allergy
Genital allergies are not all “one face.” Depending on the symptoms, several types of this pathology are distinguished, which, in addition, differ in etiology (causes).
Their treatment tactics may vary. These are the following types:
- acute allergic dermatitis;
- acute allergic urethritis;
- acute allergic vulvovaginitis;
- fixed erythema;
- chronic forms of genital allergy allergy.
Acute allergic dermatitis is the most common type of genital allergy. It manifests itself in the form of hyperemia (redness) and itching of the pubis, perineum, labia majora in women and the skin of the penis in men. This type of violation develops both with local and systemic exposure to the allergen. May be due to local or systemic exposure to the allergen. Acute allergic dermatitis includes some types of drug allergy (damage to the external genitalia in Lyell syndrome and others).
In acute allergic urethritis, inflammation of the tissues of the urethra is observed, which in manifestations does not differ from infectious urethritis. As a rule, it develops with allergies to antiseptics, which are used intraurethrally for the relief and urgent prevention of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
Acute allergic vulvovaginitis is an allergic reaction of the skin and mucous membranes of the labia minora and labia minora, as well as the clitoris frenum.
It often appears when:
- ingestion of seminal fluid on the external genitalia;
- topical application of spermicidal birth control or medicinal ointments, as well as suppositories.
Fixed erythema is known as “unpopular”, a rather rare form of genital allergy – it occurs in a limited number of patients. Manifestations are specific spots of dark red or cherry color, which have clear contours. As a rule, they arise due to parenteral or oral administration of certain medications. Most often, such a reaction develops when taking antimicrobials from the sulfonamide group.
Chronic forms of genital allergy are protracted forms of the described pathology. Their feature is the frequent appearance of dry skin or its lichenification (thickening with the formation of folds). Pathological sensitivity to elements of various hygiene products, as well as to underwear, most often leads to a chronic form of genital allergy.
Manifestations of genital allergies are observed from:
- external genitalia;
- perianal (around the rectal) zone.
The latter is often observed in young children. Also, sometimes an allergic reaction can be observed from the side of the skin covering the inner thighs and lower parts of the anterior abdominal wall.
The most common manifestations of genital allergies are:
- skin itching;
- less commonly – swelling of tissues;
- in women – burning sensation in the vagina, especially after sexual intercourse.
Sometimes reactive urethritis can occur – inflammation of the urethra, namely its terminal (final) departments. At the same time, the following symptoms are added to the mentioned symptoms: discomfort during urination – burning, pain; frequent false urge to urinate – the patient is pushing in the toilet, as with an act of defecation, but to no avail.
If fixed erythema appears while taking medications, then only local redness of the skin and itching occur. The duration of the manifestation of genital allergies can be different – from several hours to several days. There are cases when patients suffered from this disorder for a week – but it is assumed that they have been in contact with the allergen all this time, not assuming that this is the cause of their torment. As a rule, the manifestations of genital allergies weaken, and then completely disappear within 2-3 days after the elimination of the provoking factor.
In addition to nonspecific symptoms, genital allergy sometimes manifests itself as:
- balanoposthitis (inflammatory lesion of the glans penis) in men;
- vulvovaginitis (inflammation of the skin of the external genital organs and vaginal mucosa) in women.
It should also take into account not only the physiological, but also the psychological aspect of the pathology. Itching and burning sensation interfere with the normal socialization of such patients.
Neuropsychiatric reactions may develop:
- causeless aggression.
A person must constantly control himself, so as not to scratch in a place of irritation in a public place.
The diagnosis of genital allergy can be made on the basis of patient complaints, an anamnesis of the disease (the fact that the person was in contact with the allergen), and an examination. Additional instrumental and laboratory diagnostic methods are used to clarify the details of the pathology and to conduct differential diagnostics. A consultation of a urologist and a gynecologist is prescribed.
The results of a physical examination for genital allergies are as follows:
- upon examination – the genitals are red, sometimes swollen, traces of scratching are visualized;
- with palpation (palpation) – swelling can be confirmed by palpation, but in general without features. Sometimes, due to reactive inflammation, the skin is warm to the touch.
Women undergo a vaginal examination. Of the instrumental diagnostic methods, urethroscopy is used – examination of the mucous membrane of the urethra using endoscopic techniques. Conducted with suspected urethritis.
Laboratory research methods used in the diagnosis of genital allergies are:
- a general blood test – it determines the increased number of eosinophils (cells that secrete inflammatory mediators, which provide the development of the clinical picture);
- enzyme immunoassay – determining the number of specific immunoglobulins (their number is increased);
- allergological tests – they are carried out in the form of scarification skin tests. At the same time, scratches are made on the skin, an allergen is applied to them, and the reaction of the body is monitored. As a rule, serological tests for the presence of antibodies to the causative agents of the main STDs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, are studied in response to latex, seminal fluid, and medication antigens.
Differential (distinctive) diagnosis of genital allergies is most often carried out with:
- sexually transmitted diseases;
- infectious urethritis;
- candidiasis – fungal infection;
- some bacterial diseases of the skin.
In the latter case, it is most often: eczema – non-infectious inflammation of the skin, which is manifested by various elements of the rash, burning and itching; seborrhea – increased fat production, observed due to a violation of the nervous and neuroendocrine regulation of the sebaceous glands of the skin.
There are no critical effects of genital allergies. They are mainly associated with the ingress of pathogenic microflora into the tissue through combs.
The most common complications in men are:
- the formation of adhesions and scarring in the area of the glans penis;
- phimosis – narrowing of the foreskin;
- paraphimosis – infringement of the glans penis with narrowed foreskin with the inability to spontaneously return to normal position.
Genital allergies in women can be a prerequisite for the occurrence of:
- cystitis – inflammation of the bladder mucosa;
- pyelonephritis – an inflammatory lesion of the renal pelvis, calyx and kidney parenchyma.
This pathology is able to mask the signs of certain sexually transmitted diseases.
TREATMENT OF GENITAL ALLERGY
The basic principles of the treatment of genital allergies are:
- elimination of contact with the allergen;
- stopping manifestations.
Eliminating contact with the allergen is not as simple a process as it might seem, since its accurate identification is necessary. Sometimes, with the seemingly obvious facts of allergization and the patient avoiding such contacts, the allergic reaction still does not stop.
As long as the diagnosis continues, the appointments are as follows:
- cessation of the use of latex-based products (condoms, pillows);
- the abolition of the drugs used or their replacement;
- abstinence from sex, as the allergen may be seminal fluid.
Some women use barrier contraceptives (condoms), but, as medical practice shows, during sex, it is not always possible to control the process of sperm getting on the woman’s genitals; the use of hygiene products with no or minimal aromatic and emollient components.
To eliminate the symptoms of this rather unpleasant condition, the following are used:
- antihistamines (desensitizing) agents – in drops for children or in the form of tablets for adults;
- ointments based on glucocorticosteroids – they have a calming effect;
- wound healing agents – used in severe cases to accelerate the healing of scratches.
If a secondary infection has developed, then antibacterial agents are prescribed.
Preventive measures to avoid the development of genital allergies are:
- avoidance of contact with substances that have caused at least the slightest manifestation of an allergy;
- the right choice of contraception;
- wearing natural hypoallergenic underwear.
The prognosis for genital allergies is in most cases favorable. If you avoid contact with the allergen, the symptoms pass quickly enough on their own. Exceptions are observed if, against the background of pronounced tissue changes in the area of the external genitalia, scars and synechiae (fusion) appear.
And if a woman is sensitive to seminal fluid, then she may have problems conceiving a baby. This pathology is a local manifestation of allergic reactions. But it is necessary to ensure that an instant expressed general reaction does not develop – anaphylactic shock is one of the critical conditions. Cases of its development during oral sex are described.