Ulcus vulvae acutum in a 13-year-old girl after influenza a infection

Alison J. Bruce, Kathy L. MacLaughlin, Roy S. Rogers, David A. Wetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


A 13-year-old otherwise healthy premenarchal girl presented with acute onset of painful vulvar ulcerations. One day before developing vulvar ulcerations, she experienced flu-like symptoms, including a low-grade fever, cough, sore throat, and myalgia. Results of a throat swab were positive for influenza A infection (polymerase chain reaction [PCR] assay), and the patient was treated with oseltamivir. The patient's constitutional symptoms improved slightly, but within 2 days after her initial presentation, she returned to her primary care provider and described 24 hours of dysuria and vulvar swelling. She had a history of herpes labialis (cold sores) and rare episodes of minor oral aphthae (canker sores) that occurred less than twice a year. The patient denied a history of sexual activity, sexual abuse, or physical trauma. Physical examination showed ulceration and swelling of the labia minora, and the patient received an empiric dose of acyclovir (200 mg 4 times daily) for presumed autoinoculated herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. An ulcer swab was performed, and urinalysis revealed no evidence of infection. Two days later, the patient presented to the emergency department with increasing vulvar pain and vaginal discharge. The previous ulcer swab findings were negative for HSV (PCR assay), and consequently, acyclovir was discontinued after 1 day of therapy. She received topical viscous lidocaine and an empiric dose of oral fluconazole. The lidocaine provided temporary symptomatic relief. Results of DNA amplification studies were negative for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. A potassium hydroxide preparation was negative for fungi, and an ulcer swab for bacterial culture revealed usual flora. Of note, the PCR assay for Epstein-Barr virus was not performed on ulcer cells. The patient was referred to the department of dermatology, and results of a physical examination showed copious white mucoid discharge and a 2-cm ulceration of the left labia minora (Figure, panel A). Two smaller pinpoint ulcerations and swelling of the left labia minora were also noted. The lesions were clinically indistinguishable from the genital aphthous ulcers of patients with complex aphthosis (recurrent, severe aphthous ulcers on oral or genital mucosa). A diagnosis of ulcus vulvae acutum was made, and treatment was started with clobetasol 0.05% ointment (4 times daily) and lidocaine gel as needed. Four days later, the patient reported marked symptomatic improvement. Physical examination showed near resolution of the large vulvar ulceration (Figure, panel B). The patient tapered use of clobetasol ointment over the next several days until the ulcerations healed completely. Two months after her initial episode, the patient again had 3 small vulvar erosions after symptoms that included low-grade fever, malaise, and vomiting. She did not receive oseltamivir for this illness; clobetasol ointment was applied 4 times daily, and the vulvar erosions ameliorated within a few days. Her constitutional symptoms resolved without treatment. The patient has not experienced any further episodes of vulvar ulcerations in the 18 months after the most recent treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-98
Number of pages4
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Dermatology


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