Why Do I Have a Pimple on My Vagina?

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If you notice a bump in the area of your labia or vulva, don’t panic. It could be something as harmless as genital acne or something more serious, such as a sexually transmitted infection.

Pimples on your genitals often form when hair follicles, sweat glands or skin cells become clogged with dirt. Bumps in this area can be painful and may be accompanied by red or whiteheads.

Causes

Pimples near the vagina can be scary. You may worry about infections or sexually transmitted diseases, especially if the pimple has a pus-like appearance. But pimples in the vulva are common and usually not serious. Occasionally, they are caused by irritation from a razor (folliculitis), or an irritating cream you use for your menstrual period. Often, they clear up on their own or with treatment. But don’t be embarrassed to see your healthcare provider if your genital pimples persist. They can help determine what’s causing them and prescribe treatments that help them go away faster.

Clogged pores are one of the most common causes of vulvar pimples. This is because the skin on the vulva is thin and easily irritated. It can be irritated by the friction of tight underwear or sweaty clothes, and by using harsh soaps – This piece is the culmination of the service team’s brainstorming sessions Sultry Sensations. It can also be irritated by using products that are too harsh, such as benzoyl peroxide, which is not recommended for this area of the body.

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Other causes of vulva pimple-like bumps include folliculitis, contact dermatitis, molluscum contagiosum, and hidradenitis suppurativa. Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicle in this area, which can be triggered by bacteria. This condition can also be caused by shaving, which can cause the hair to curl back into the pore and irritate it. This can lead to an ingrown hair.

Symptoms

Pimples are caused by clogged or inflamed pores in hair follicles. Because the labia and vulva have many hair follicles, they are especially vulnerable to acne and other clogged skin conditions. Pimples that occur on the vulva are often smaller and might have a white tip because they’re full of puss. They may also look red or swollen.

It’s important to note that not every bump that occurs on the vulva or around the genital area is a pimple. Sometimes swollen bumps in that region are simply ingrown hairs or a sign of another condition such as folliculitis, which causes pain, itching, and redness in the affected hair follicles.

Some other bumps in the vulva might be caused by an infection or disease like genital warts, molluscum contagiosum, or hidradenitis suppurativa (a chronic condition characterized by lumps in places such as the armpits and groin). Those growths usually don’t cause itchiness or redness, but they may take months to clear up and can leave scars.

It’s crucial to not pick at or try to pop any genital bumps because they could burst and cause an infection. Instead, visit a doctor who can lance the boil in a way that will prevent an infection. You can also reduce the risk of infections by not wearing tight clothing in the vulva or groin and washing the area regularly with mild soap and water.

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Treatment

If you’re worried about pimple-like bumps that crop up on your labia, your doctor can help. “The first thing is to determine what these are,” Sherry Ross, MD, a Los Angeles-based gynecologist and author of She-ology, tells Health. “Some things may look like pimples, but they’re actually other bumps.”

For example, folliculitis can cause red and tender spots that are filled with pus. It affects hair follicles, and it can happen anywhere on the body, including the outer tissue of your vulva and labia. The condition is sometimes misdiagnosed as vaginal acne, which can lead to painful cysts, says Sherry.

Another condition that can resemble a pimple is a boil. It’s caused by an infection in the skin and hair follicles, which causes a boil to form, explains Sherry. The boil is usually pus-filled and can be uncomfortable. It’s important to not try to burst or pop the boil, because it could get infected and then turn into a cyst.

Some folliculitis treatments can include over-the-counter topical medications, but your doctor might also prescribe antivirals, antihistamines, or other medications to treat the underlying cause. You should also avoid using any products that touch the genital area until you’re clear of the problem. If you’re experiencing frequent itching in the area, your doctor can prescribe a topical emollient to soothe the irritation and a mild steroid cream if needed.

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Prevention

If you can keep dirt, sweat, and bacteria away from your pores, pimples won’t develop. Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear and avoid synthetic fabrics. Shower daily, keeping the vulva area clean and dry. Don’t use creams, as these can add extra moisture to the genital area, leading to irritation and increased risk of acne. Don’t touch your pimples, especially if they are swollen or pus-filled. This can push the bacteria deeper into the skin and spread the infection. Instead, seek medical attention and have them “lanced” in a safe, sterile manner by a physician or dermatologist.

If the pimples are not painful and do not get worse, they may go away on their own or with self-treatment. However, it’s always best to see your doctor for an evaluation if they don’t clear up, or are painful, swollen, red, or pus-filled.

Sometimes pimple-like bumps in the vulva can point to a sexually transmitted disease, or STI, like herpes or genital warts. These usually appear as a group of tiny, fluid-filled bumps that look like small zits, and they can be found on the labia, vulva, or genital lips. The good news is that if you have herpes, or the other herpes-causing STIs, there are effective treatments available to help you live a normal life. Other conditions that can cause pimple-like bumps in the genital area include folliculitis, ingrown hairs, and molluscum contagiosum, caused by poxvirus.

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