What is genital rash?

Although genital skin rashes can be related to noninfectious conditions, such as allergic reactions and contact dermatitis, many genital rashes are due to sexually transmitted infections. The area may be reddened with blisters or sores, or may retain its normal color but have noticeable bumps. Other symptoms, such as discharge, pain, burning with urination, or itching, may also occur.

Not all sexually transmitted infections cause genital rashes; the ones that most commonly do are herpes, syphilis, and human papilloma virus (HPV). Herpes typically causes clusters of painful red blisters that may be itchy. Syphilis may be associated with a solitary, painless, red sore on the genitals that may be followed by a rash on the hands and feet. Genital warts may develop as a result of HPV infection.

Molluscum contagiosum is a contagious disease caused by a virus that can be transmitted through contaminated objects, direct contact, and sexual contact. The rash associated with it consists of small, flesh-colored, painless bumps that often have a central plug of white, waxy material. Pubic lice and scabies can also be spread sexually and cause genital rash. Scratching can cause rash-like scabs and sores.

Tinea cruris, a fungal infection sometimes referred to as “jock itch” or “ringworm of the groin,” can also cause a genital rash. People who have tinea cruris may also have athlete’s foot or ringworm.

Genital rash treatment depends upon the cause. Syphilis is curable with antibiotics if treated early. Pubic lice and scabies are typically treated with topical solutions. Herpes and the human papilloma virus are not curable, but treatments are available that can help manage symptoms. Molluscum contagiosum goes away over a course of months to years without treatment; however, the individual bumps can be removed surgically or with topical medications. Sexual partners should be notified and treated as appropriate.

Sometimes genital rashes can be accompanied by conditions that can have serious or even life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have a high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) or severe abdominal or pelvic pain.

Since some causes of genital rashes are treatable, and because many can be spread to other people or lead to significant complications, if you develop a genital rash, you should seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with genital rash?

A genital rash may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that cause genital rashes can cause other genital symptoms or affect other body systems.

Genital symptoms that may occur along with genital rash

Genital rash may accompany other symptoms affecting the genitals including:


What causes genital rash?

Genital rashes can be caused by non-infectious conditions, such as allergic reactions, irritation, or inflammation, or by infectious conditions. Many of the infectious conditions are spread sexually, although some are not.

Infectious causes of genital rash

Genital rash may be caused by infections including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Sexual Health

Top Features in Sexual Health

Popular Sexual Health Slide Show

15 Ways To Get Better Medicine

People who are actively involved in their medical care stay healthier, recover quicker when they're ill, and live longer, healthier lives.