What Do Pimples on Your Vulva Mean?

Reviewed on 11/10/2022
A woman clasping hands in front of herself
Causes of pimple-like bumps on the vulva include folliculitis, contact dermatitis, molluscum contagiosum, and hidradenitis suppurativa.

The vulvar area is the part of the external female genitals which includes the labia, clitoris, vaginal opening, and the opening to the urethra from which urine passes.

Pimples on the vulva are usually not actually pimples, but other types of bumps that resemble pimples. For the most part, these bumps are not typically a sign of a serious condition.

4 Causes

What looks like pimples on the vulva are often caused by:

  • Folliculitis 
    • Most common cause of bumps on the vulva, usually due to bacteria
    • The bacteria enter pubic hair follicles and pores on the labia, and infections occur which can result in bumps that look like pimples 
    • Risk factors for developing folliculitis on the vulva include: 
      • Shaving pubic hair 
      • Wearing tight-fitting underwear 
      • Sweating 
  • Contact dermatitis 
    • Caused by irritation from contact with chemicals in products such as bubble baths, laundry detergents, vaginal creams, scented pads, tampons, and condoms, along with sweat, urine, semen, and normal vaginal discharge
    • The irritation can cause bumps to develop
  • Molluscum contagiosum virus
    • The virus is transmitted through casual or sexual contact with the skin of an infected person or objects that have the virus on it
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa 
    • A long-term condition in which bumps form in the hair roots near sweat glands due to a blockage of hair follicles and secondary infection or inflammation of sweat glands
  • Other causes of bumps that look like pimples

What Are Symptoms of Genital Pimples?

In addition to a red bump or lump in the vulvar area, other symptoms that can accompany pimples on the vulva may include: 

  • Itching
  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Sores
  • Blisters

How Are Pimples on Your Vulva Diagnosed?

The cause of pimples on the vulva is diagnosed with a patient history which may include questions about other skin problems elsewhere on the body, bladder or bowel issues, clothing you wear, and how you clean and care for the skin in the vulvar area. 

A physical examination of the vulva and a vaginal examination will be performed. Tests may include: 

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Swabs to collect samples from the vagina

How Do You Get Rid of Bumps on Your Vulva?

A woman clasping hands in front of herself
Causes of pimple-like bumps on the vulva include folliculitis, contact dermatitis, molluscum contagiosum, and hidradenitis suppurativa.

The vulvar area is the part of the external female genitals which includes the labia, clitoris, vaginal opening, and the opening to the urethra from which urine passes.

Pimples on the vulva are usually not actually pimples, but other types of bumps that resemble pimples. For the most part, these bumps are not typically a sign of a serious condition.

4 Causes

What looks like pimples on the vulva are often caused by:

  • Folliculitis 
    • Most common cause of bumps on the vulva, usually due to bacteria
    • The bacteria enter pubic hair follicles and pores on the labia, and infections occur which can result in bumps that look like pimples 
    • Risk factors for developing folliculitis on the vulva include: 
      • Shaving pubic hair 
      • Wearing tight-fitting underwear 
      • Sweating 
  • Contact dermatitis 
    • Caused by irritation from contact with chemicals in products such as bubble baths, laundry detergents, vaginal creams, scented pads, tampons, and condoms, along with sweat, urine, semen, and normal vaginal discharge
    • The irritation can cause bumps to develop
  • Molluscum contagiosum virus
    • The virus is transmitted through casual or sexual contact with the skin of an infected person or objects that have the virus on it
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa 
    • A long-term condition in which bumps form in the hair roots near sweat glands due to a blockage of hair follicles and secondary infection or inflammation of sweat glands
  • Other causes of bumps that look like pimples
    • Genital herpes
      • A sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus
    • Genital warts
      • Skin lesions caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)
    • Bartholin’s cyst
      • A small fluid-filled sac that can develop inside the vaginal opening
      • Usually doesn’t cause problems but if it grows very large or becomes infected, it can be uncomfortable 

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Reviewed on 11/10/2022
References
Image source: iStock Images

https://flo.health/menstrual-cycle/health/symptoms-and-diseases/pimples-on-labia-main-reasons

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/folliculitis

https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/molluscum-contagiosum/treatment.html

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1073117-overview

https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/default.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bartholins-cyst/treatment/