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Dermatology pp 836-843 | Cite as

Disorders of the Female External Genitalia

  • Otto Braun-Falco
  • Gerd Plewig
  • Helmut H. Wolff
  • Richard K. Winkelmann

Abstract

In females the boundary between the external genitalia and normal skin is formed by the labia majora. The labia majora have the structure of normal skin on their outer surfaces although they have well-developed fatty tissues and loose connective tissue, which explains the rapid edematous swelling associated with inflammatory reactions. The skin on the inside of the labia majora is smooth and moist and merges into the mucous membrane. Appendages such as sebaceous glands associated with hair follicles and eccrine sweat glands are found on the outside while only free sebaceous gland follicles occur on the inside. The latter are also located on the labia minora, sometimes in large numbers. Careful inspection of the sebaceous papules may prompt patients to visit their physician. Apocrine sweat glands are very densely distributed, especially in the region of the mons pubis and the labia majora. This is the basis for extra-mammary Paget’s disease that may occur in these areas. One Bartholin’s gland is on each side of the lower third of the inside of the labia minora. They may become involved in gonorrhea or other bacterial infections (Staphylococcus aureus). The vagina is covered by several layers of stratified squamous epithelium and has an acid pH (4.8-5.0) on the surface. The mucous membranes of the introitus vaginae produce secretion. The transition from physiological secretion to pathological discharge occurs easily. The contact of secretions with the outside, friction caused by clothing, and pruritus may rapidly lead to inflammatory changes showing all the characteristics of intertrigo.

Synonym

Vulvovaginitis of adults Infantile vulvovaginitis Primary genital atrophy Senile genital atrophy 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Otto Braun-Falco
    • 1
  • Gerd Plewig
    • 2
  • Helmut H. Wolff
    • 3
  • Richard K. Winkelmann
    • 4
  1. 1.Dermatologische Klinik und PoliklinikLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMünchen 2Federal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Hautklinik der Heinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfFederal Republic of Germany
  3. 3.Klinik für Dermatologie und VenerologieMedizinischen Universität zu LübeckLübeck 1Federal Republic of Germany
  4. 4.Dermatology — Dermatopathology, Mayo ClinicMayo Medical SchoolRochesterUSA

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