Estrogen Treatment of Acetic Acid Burns to the Vagina, Cervix, and Perineum: A Case Report and Review of the Literature

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Abstract

In colposcopic evaluation of the cervix, acetic acid of 3 to 5% is commonly used for identification of preneoplastic and neoplastic cells. Acetic acid is a known caustic substance and has the potential to cause irritation and chemical burns when there is sufficient concentration or duration of contact. The authors present a unique case of a woman who inadvertently received undiluted acetic acid during a routine colposcopy, resulting in significant chemical burns of the vagina, cervix, and perineum. Her burns were treated with topical estrogen cream of 1 g twice daily applied directly to the wounds. The burn wounds were fully healed within 8 weeks without complication or additional treatment. At 6 months after the injury, the patient was allowed to engage in sexual activity, and vaginal dilation and pelvic floor therapy were initiated. At 12 months postinjury, her only symptomatic scarring at the left vaginal wall continues to improve. Thus, topical estrogen treatment of 1 g applied twice daily should be continued until burn scar maturation is complete and treatment improvement plateaus in cases of burns to the vagina, cervix, and perineum. This case is further clinical evidence of estrogen’s positive effect on wound healing and its potential role in burn treatment.

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