There are multiple possible causes of genital sores, which can be itchy, painful, produce a discharge, or be free of symptoms.
All genital sores should be evaluated by a medical professional, especially if the wounds fail to heal in a few weeks. In rare cases, it may be a sign of some form of cancer, such as melanoma (a deadly form of skin cancer).
Itching in the genital region, pain during urination, or pain during sexual intercourse are often symptoms of genital sores, wounds, or lesions.
Genital sores in men
There are several potential causes of genital sores in males. Sexually transmitted infections such as genital herpes simplex, syphilis, chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum are known to cause lesions, sores, and ulcers on the genitals.
Other causes include venereal warts, molluscum contagiosum (water warts), allergic reactions, Behcet’s disease, and other non-sexually transmitted infections.
Genital sores in women
Similar to men, there are several potential causes of genital sores in women. Sexually transmitted infections such as genital herpes simplex, syphilis, chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum are known to cause lesions, sores, and ulcers on the genitals.
In females, the vulva is susceptible to genital sores. Possible causes include pre-cancerous changes of the vulva (vulvar dysplasia) which may appear as red, brown, or white patches on the vulva, which may be itchy. The vulva can also develop skin cancers such as melanoma and basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.
There are also non-sexually transmitted diseases which can produce sores, wounds, or lesions on female genitals. Common causes, especailly in young girls prior to puberty, include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and nonspecific vulvovaginitis. Some less common causes include skin conditions such as lichen planus, lichen sclerosis, seborrheic dermatitis, and vitiligo. Benign (non-cancerous) cysts can also be causes of genital skin lesions or sores.