Desquamative vaginitis is a particularly rare type of vaginitis characterized by a discharge, vaginal itching, burning and general vaginal irritation. Some women also experience an apparent thinning of vaginal tissue, as well as a graying of the skin in the affected area. In many women, this condition also causes painful intercourse possibly caused by a narrowing of the vaginal opening, which is another common symptom. Desquamative vaginitis can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms are closely related to that of other conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or yeast infection. While the exact cause of desquamative vaginitis is not always easy to pinpoint, it is not a sexually transmitted disease or infection.
Also known as desquamative inflammatory vaginitis (DIV), some researchers believe this condition may be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. Others believe it may be caused by a malfunctioning immune system. Still, some medical researchers believe DIV is actually a related form of lichen planus, which is a fairly common dermatological condition usually found on other areas of the body.
Desquamative vaginitis is sometimes associated with a hormonal imbalance, such as is common in women during menopause or who have already undergone menopause, as well as in women taking birth control pills. Women who have not undergone recent hormonal changes, however, may also be diagnosed with desquamative vaginitis, which leads doctors and other researchers to believe that hormones may not play a large role in this condition at all. Essentially, this particular strain of vaginitis can and does affect women of varying ages.
The discharge associated with DIV is not usually associated with a foul or unusual odor. In addition to a yellowish discharge, women with this condition are found to shed white blood cells, which become evident through laboratory testing. In some, desquamative vaginitis may also cause slight bleeding after intercourse or other vaginal irritation, which is likely caused by friction on top of the inflammation widely associated with this condition.
A diagnosis of desquamative vaginitis usually occurs only after other possible causes for symptoms have been ruled out. As desquamative inflammatory vaginitis is a rare condition with origins that are not yet completely understood, treatment is often difficult and it is not unusual for doctors and patients to try multiple treatment strategies as symptoms continue to recur. Desquamative vaginitis is also sometimes misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) as the painful symptoms associated with PID, particularly during intercourse, are reportedly similar.