What causes redness and swelling of genitals and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Redness and swelling of the genitals can be a concerning symptom that may indicate an underlying issue. It is important to understand the potential causes of genital redness and swelling and how to effectively treat it. In this article, we will explore the various factors that can contribute to this symptom and provide valuable insights on managing and alleviating discomfort.

Understanding Genital Redness and Swelling

Genital redness and swelling, also known as genital inflammation, can occur in both males and females. It is characterized by the abnormal enlargement and reddening of the genital area, including the external genitalia such as the penis, scrotum, vulva, and labia. This symptom can be accompanied by itching, pain, or a burning sensation.

Potential Causes of Genital Redness and Swelling

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of genital redness and swelling. It is essential to identify the underlying cause in order to determine the most appropriate treatment. Some common causes include:

  • 1. Infections: Genital infections, such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes or gonorrhea, can lead to redness and swelling of the genitals.
  • 2. Allergic reactions: Contact dermatitis or allergic reactions to certain substances, such as soaps, detergents, latex, or spermicides, can cause irritation and inflammation in the genital area.
  • 3. Dermatological conditions: Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or lichen planus can affect the genital area and result in redness and swelling.
  • 4. Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly during pregnancy or menopause, can cause genital redness and swelling.
  • 5. Trauma or injury: Any form of trauma or injury to the genital area, including rough sexual activity or accidental injury, can lead to inflammation and swelling.

Treating Genital Redness and Swelling

The treatment of genital redness and swelling depends on the underlying cause. It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. However, there are some general measures that can help alleviate discomfort and promote healing:

1. Maintain proper hygiene:

Ensure that you keep the genital area clean and dry. Use mild, fragrance-free soaps and avoid harsh chemicals that may further irritate the skin. Pat the area dry gently after washing.

2. Avoid irritants:

If you suspect an allergic reaction or contact dermatitis, identify and avoid potential irritants. This may include changing laundry detergents, avoiding scented products, or using non-latex condoms.

3. Use over-the-counter remedies:

For mild cases, over-the-counter creams or ointments containing hydrocortisone or antifungal agents can help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. However, it is important to follow the instructions and consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist or worsen.

4. Practice safe sex:

If the cause of genital redness and swelling is an STI, it is crucial to practice safe sex and seek appropriate medical treatment. Abstain from sexual activity until the infection is fully treated to prevent further complications or transmission.

5. Seek medical advice:

If the symptoms persist, worsen, or are accompanied by other concerning signs, it is essential to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and prescribe specific medications or treatments tailored to your condition.


Genital redness and swelling can be a distressing symptom, but it is important not to panic. By understanding the potential causes and following appropriate treatment measures, you can effectively manage and alleviate discomfort. Remember to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Maintaining proper hygiene, avoiding irritants, and practicing safe sex are essential steps in promoting healing and preventing further complications. Take care of your genital health and prioritize your overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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