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Vulvar lesions: Differential diagnosis based on morphology

Lynette J Margesson, MD, FRCPC, FAAD
Hope K Haefner, MD
Section Editor
Robert P Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Deputy Editor
Kristen Eckler, MD, FACOG


A wide variety of lesions occur on the vulva. Some of the disorders causing these lesions are limited to the vulva, while others also involve skin or mucocutaneous membranes elsewhere on the body. This topic provides a morphology-based classification system that can help clinicians with the differential diagnosis of these lesions after performing a history and physical examination. This classification system is also useful for guiding the choice of diagnostic tests and procedures.

The pertinent history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests and procedures used to evaluate women with vulvar lesions are described separately (see "Vulvar lesions: Diagnostic evaluation"). Treatment is also discussed separately in topic reviews on these disorders.


Mucocutaneous vulvar lesions can be classified using the morphologic definitions described in the table (table 1).


After history, physical examination, and morphologic classification (see tables), the information in this topic can be used to begin differential diagnosis of the lesion. Diagnostic entities are listed for each morphologic classification and often listed under more than one morphologic classification since many lesions have more than one presentation (morphologic type, color). The complete description of the diagnostic entity is provided only once; for morphological variants, the entity is noted and linked to its descriptive section.


Differential diagnosis (table 2).

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Dec 14, 2016.
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