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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) causing dry skin

The skin is the largest part of the body and one of the body organs that protect us from infections due to bloodborne pathogens and other dangers. The skin plays other vital roles like regulating body temperature, preventing moisture loss, acting as a sensory organ, etc.

We should, therefore, ensure that we protect our skin the same way it protects us.

The skin is usually moist, but sometimes it can be dry due to aging, medical treatments, harsh soaps and detergents, the environment, heat, and too much bathing and scrubbing. Sometimes, skin dryness can be due to sexually transmitted infections like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, human papillomavirus, genital herpes, and Mycoplasma genitalium.

These STDs can lead to burning, tingling, and itching of the skin around your genitals and other affected areas during sexual intercourse. These symptoms are painful, so it is important to know the STDs that can affect your skin and how they affect it so that you treat them immediately after you notice the symptoms.

Here are some of the STDs causing dry skin:

Mycoplasma genitalium: This is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium. You can transmit Mycoplasma Genitalium through vaginal, oral, or anal sexual contact.

Its symptoms usually appear 1-3 weeks after infection, and they may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Penile and vaginal discharge

You can do a Mycoplasma genitalium test through a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT).

Chlamydia: Chlamydia is the most common STD affecting both men and women. The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis causes it, and one can spread it through vaginal, oral, or anal sexual intercourse.

Chlamydia can have adverse effects if not treated. It can spread to other parts of the body and cause urethritis- an inflammation of the urethra and prostatitis- an inflammation of the prostate gland in men.

In women, it causes infection of the cervix (cervicitis) and fallopian tube (salpingitis). This leads to infertility in both men and women.

Chlamydia rarely shows symptoms in both genders, but when it does, they may include:

  • Vaginal and penile discharge
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Painful urination
  • Redness around the vagina and rectum

Human papillomavirus: Human papillomavirus is another common STD in the US. This virus has many strains causing different conditions. The most common strains cause genital warts, cervical cancer, anal cancer, and mouth and throat cancer.

Genital warts usually appear on the skin and look like pimples.

You can spread HPV through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral, and anal sex.

Genital herpes: Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), a type of herpes virus. It is mainly spread through vaginal sexual contact but can also be spread through oral sex and is caused by herpes virus type 1 (HSV-1).

Genital herpes cause symptoms like itching, burning, pain, and irritation of the affected area. It causes blisters or warts to form in the skin of the affected area, which can be flaky, itchy, and dry.

Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease after chlamydia.

It is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae and can be spread through sexual contact. Like chlamydia, gonorrhea rarely shows symptoms, and when it does, it can cause dry skin on the affected area.

The symptoms may include:

  • Skin dryness
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Penile discharge
  • Painful testicles

To prevent gonorrhea, ensure you use condoms any time you have sexual intercourse and limit the number of sexual partners. Also, ensure you regularly undergo STD testing if you are sexually active and get treatment.

Leaving gonorrhea untreated can lead to serious health complications.

Syphilis: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.

Syphilis can confuse you with various diseases, hence the name “the great imitator.” It mainly causes skin rash and soreness on the skin of the genitals but can also affect other parts of the body like the nervous system, brain, and heart.

Its primary transmission mode is sexual contact, but you can also get it by being in contact with an infected open sore. The sores can also appear in the mouth and throat and can be very contagious.

Although it rarely shows symptoms in its early stages, if it does, one of the most common signs is the appearance of a small sore called a chancre. This sore usually appears three weeks after the initial infection and is usually found in the area where the bacteria entered the body.

Other possible causes of dry skin

Besides STDs, other conditions can also cause dry and itchy skin.

Things like fungal infection or chronic eczema can cause your skin to irritate and dry.

Yeast infection: Yeast infection or vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection of the vulva and vagina that causes irritation, itchiness, and discharge. The fungus candida causes it.

Yeast infections usually impersonate the symptoms of the STDs, causing dry skin and making it hard to know your infection. Yeast infection is treatable with a single dose of an antifungal oral drug or cream.


Sexually transmitted infections are common and majorly affect youths and young adults who are sexually active. They can cause symptoms, including dry skin, but not all of them can. The STDs that can cause dry skin are syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, etc.


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