A labial or vaginal cut or tear (vaginal fissure) is a painful split, crack or break in the mucous membrane (skin) inside the vagina, inner or outer labia (vulva), perineum, clitoris or clitoral hood.
Vaginal and vulvar cuts and tears can cause pain, sting when you urinate, may bleed at first, and itch as they heal.
To solve the tear, you need to be clear why it’s there
Vulva and vaginal flesh is very delicate, but a cut or tear usually heals very quickly without intervention or leaving scars. Working out the cause of your cuts is the key to fast-tracking healing and preventing recurrence, which can be tricky sometimes.
Your immune system and healthy vaginal flora help keep infections at bay by preventing nasties from entering the wound. Infection in minor vulvar or vaginal cuts and tears are rare in an otherwise healthy vagina.
To speed up healing and provide some light lubrication, you can use a barrier ointment, vegetable oil, or get your hands on a vulva and vagina-friendly cuts cream.
Any cream or ointment you apply to your vulva or vagina must be safe for your delicate mucous membranes and labia. It might be tempting to slather on whatever you can find to get rid of the pain and speed up healing, but be judicious.
- Regular antiseptic liquid
- Antibiotic creams
- Any other ointments, creams, rinses or salve unless advised by your healthcare practitioner
- Harsh soaps
Where are your vulvar or vaginal fissures?
Finding the cause and treatment of your vulvar or vaginal cuts and tears
Simple vaginal or vulvar tears
Simple tears are usually caused by sex, fingering, fingernails, accidents, douching, infections or fiddling.
A simple vulvar or vaginal tear typically heals quickly with no interference. Tears inside the vagina may only be felt when touched since there are comparatively few nerve endings in the vaginal canal compared to the vulva.
Mystery vaginal or vulvar tears
Mystery tears are those that appear seemingly randomly and without cause. They may come and go or stick around long-term and typical treatments don’t seem to do anything.
Mystery tears can be caused by many issues, including an underlying infection (think fungus or yeast) or low oestrogen.
Rule out a simple tear first, then check through each condition and look for any other related symptoms that could shed light on the cause of your mystery tears.
The vulva and vagina-friendly cuts cream is particularly useful for mystery cuts, as you can apply as needed when a flare-up occurs. But, finding the root cause of mystery cuts and tears is key to eliminating them for good.
This list of causes of mystery cuts and tears is not exhaustive but offers a starting point. Mystery tears may need a proper medical investigation and diagnosis and benefit from targeted treatment.
Why mystery cuts and tears can appear
- Fungus or yeast (get a comprehensive microbiome test)
- Low oestrogen (breastfeeding, menopause, ovarian dysfunction) causing atrophic vaginitis (try Fennelope)
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Food intolerances (think colours, preservatives, flavours, salicylates, amines)
- Allergies, contact dermatitis
- Autoimmune conditions affecting the skin (genital psoriasis, lichen sclerosus)
- Sexually transmitted infection
The deep and nasty vaginal or vulvar tear
Very deep tears are most often caused by accidents, assault, or childbirth. See your healthcare provider for advice.
How do I know if what I have is a cut, and not something more serious?
Take a look! If you can’t reach, get a good light and a camera/your phone, and take some close-ups, though internal tears are impossible to see this way. Book in with your doctor to be examined.
How to tell what’s going on with your vagina or vulva based on feeling
Cuts and tears feel like cuts and tears. You know what your flesh usually feels like depending on what’s wrong so you are usually right, even if you can’t see it.
Sores feel different to ulcers feel different to bruises feel different to paper cuts.
Your vagina (inside) is tissue much like your mouth, so think about how your mouth feels when you damage it or get an ulcer, and compare the sensations.
Your mouth lips are the same sort of tissue as your inner labia lips. Outer labia skin is like regular skin. You need to make sure it is not a sore, blister, ulcer, plaque, lesion, lump, or growth.
Blisters, sores or other lumps are usually caused by infections or other medical conditions. Leaving them alone to heal isn’t going to work so see your doctor to be examined.
Treating vulvar and vaginal fissures – when to see a doctor
You need to be checked out if your vulvar or vaginal cuts or tears don’t heal, bleed, are infected, you have abnormal discharge or you are in pain that isn’t going away. If you’re concerned at all, see your doctor.
Cheat sheet for healing cuts and tears at home
1. Don’t douche to try to heal your vaginal tear
Douching upsets the natural balance of bacteria that protect your vaginal mucous membranes and keep your vagina healthy.
Your bacteria have a symbiotic relationship with your mucous membranes. They do us favours and we do them favours.
You may have a vulvovaginal infection of some kind anyway, but that needs to be dealt with in other ways and you need a diagnosis.
Douching will never get rid of an infection of any kind, and usually just makes it worse by washing away any good bacteria you have left.
2. Sex and fiddling are out when you have a vaginal cut
Don’t have sex or masturbate until your vaginal tear is fully, and properly, healed. You may just re-open the newly-closed flesh, sustaining the wound.
Be gentle – your vagina and vulva are very durable, but not magic.
3. Don’t irritate your vulva or vagina when you have a vaginal fissure
No tampons, diaphragms, Nuva rings, condoms or other vaginal devices until you are fully healed. No scratching or tight underwear.
Avoid douching, creams, potions, lotions, perfume or anything on your vulva or vagina unless it is prescribed by your healthcare practitioner.
4. Make sure you wash your vulva gently, daily, but do not wash inside your vagina
Don’t use harsh, drying soaps that can strip the delicate skin of its moisture and don’t be rough – gently does it.
Your fatty protective layer of oil is your friend. Don’t wash it off. Continually stripping the skin of its natural protective layer means it can’t do its job.
The skin stitches its proteins together when it heals just like sewing, and if you are rough, it can pull the stitches apart.
It’s best not to use soap on your vulva, but if you must, use a very mild pH-balanced product that is free from known irritants like SLS. Check your products against this list of vulva/vagina-unfriendly ingredients.
Do not use soap in the vaginal opening or vagina. Stick to the outer labial folds, and don’t use much.
Your vaginal mucous membranes (like your nose and lungs) do not need washing.
Wet your hands in the bath or shower, and just wipe your fingers across a bar of soap – that’s all you need if any. Minimal washing and disturbance are best for healing vaginal fissures.
5. Soothe vulvar fissures (outside labial skin only)
Use a small amount of healing vulva and vagina-friendly cuts cream, aloe vera gel, pawpaw ointment, vitamin E oil or other non-antibacterial soothing oil (you want to preserve your healthy bacteria).
Do not insert any creams or gels into the vagina unless prescribed by your healthcare practitioner, particularly antibacterial creams. Your mucous membranes and healthy flora will not be happy.
If your labia are itchy, dry or tender, try a warm oatmeal bath – oats are very soothing to the skin, reduce itching and inflammation, and generally make you feel nice. Soothing creams or vegetable oil can be helpful.
6. Eat well to heal your vaginal tear
When you are healing a vaginal cut, you are literally growing new skin and patching up wounds, so having the right nutrients in good supply will help heal your vulvar or vaginal cut quickly.
What you eat matters when it comes to your vaginal fissure. In particular protein (makes your ‘meat’) and zinc and vitamin C (for collagen) are required for faster wound-healing.
Check your protein levels. If you have weak, flaky nails, that may be a sign that you aren’t getting enough protein.
But, you also need protein to produce your happy-feelings neurotransmitters, so if you suffer anxiety and mood problems, make sure you’re getting enough protein every day to produce your brain chemicals.
We recommend a palm-sized portion of protein with every meal for a healthy body. That could be an egg, meat, cheese, lentils, chickpeas, seafood, or nuts. You can also try protein shakes.
Note for YOU if you have digestive disabilities and cuts
Without mincing words here, if you are funny with food, you may not be getting all the nutrients you need to heal well.
Feeling stuck? Getting help for chronic cuts
If you are still suffering or your vulvar cut or vaginal tear seems to be getting worse, make sure you see your healthcare practitioner for advice or book in with a My Vagina vulvovaginal specialist naturopath for holistic assessment and advice.
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