An overview of vaginal acne


Many vaginal pimples are what they sound like: pimples that appear on or around the vulva . The vulva is made up of the outer parts of the female genital organs. The vagina is an internal canal. However, people often refer to the entire vagina as female genitalia.

True vaginal pimples form when dirt, sweat, and / or bacteria build up inside a pore, causing inflammation. They look like pimples on any other part of the body.

However, not all bumps and bumps in the genital area are vaginal pimples. There are a number of other diseases, infectious and otherwise, that can be mistaken for vaginal acne.

Get Medication Information / Brianna Gilmartin

Reasons for the appearance of acne in the vagina.

Acne occurs when pores become clogged. It can be caused by hormonal changes. It can also be due to external factors. Poor hygiene (even wearing sweaty clothes after exercise) can increase your risk of vaginal acne. The same can happen with irritation from lubricants or other biological fluids.

Real vaginal pimples are like pimples on any other part of the body. They are usually small red bumps, often with a white dot at the end. Sometimes they can be dark at the tip or red all over. Some vaginal pimples may be filled with pus or swollen and painful.

Several other conditions cause bumps or lesions near the genitals that can easily be mistaken for acne. They aren't always painful, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken seriously. In some cases, pimples are caused by infections that can be passed to other people if left untreated. They can also be indicators of another condition that requires medical attention.

It's best to talk to your doctor to see if you have acne or another type of infection.

Ingrown hairs

Shaving, waxing , and plucking pubic hair are common causes of ingrown hair. In fact, one study found that 32.7% of women who removed their pubic hair developed ingrown hair at one time or another.

An ingrown hair develops when a hair follicle bends downward, causing the tip of the hair to curl into the skin. This results in a "foreign body reaction" characterized by inflammation , itchy papules and scabs, and hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin). In addition to how you care for your hair, certain genetic factors can make you more susceptible; People with thick hair or dense curls are more likely to have ingrown hairs.

When ingrown hairs appear, the first thing to do is stop shaving. This usually relieves the irritation within a few days. Otherwise, you may need to see a doctor, gynecologist , or dermatologist, who will recommend a topical or oral antibiotic to reduce inflammation and prevent infection.

If left untreated, recurrent ingrown hairs can become chronic and develop into a hair follicle infection known as folliculitis . The symptoms are usually similar to those of other types of acne and are treated in a similar way. Folliculitis can also be caused by tight clothing or irritated sweat.

Vulvar cysts

Cysts are fluid-filled sac formations that can grow almost anywhere on the body. Most cysts aren't a cause for concern, but they can sometimes be cancerous or precancerous , so it's always a good idea to check with a healthcare professional.

Bartholin gland cysts are benign growths that form on both sides of the lips. An estimated 2% of women develop at least one of these in their lifetime, and they are most common in women between the ages of 20 and 20.

This type of cyst occurs when the Bartholin gland, the glands responsible for sexual lubrication, becomes clogged, often as a result of injury or an E. coli infection . Because they grow very slowly and are often painless, you may not notice that you have a Bartholin cyst until a few years have passed. Some women report mild discomfort or difficulty urinating.

There are several treatment options available, depending on how far the cyst has reached. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for smaller cysts. Large cysts may require surgical drainage, and sometimes complete excision of the gland may be required to prevent the cyst from growing back.

Other common benign cysts that can form on the vulva include:

  • Milia Small, harmless whitehead-like cysts that heal on their own.
  • Epidermoid cyst : slow-growing, painless, hard cysts , also known as sebaceous or keratinous cysts.
  • Lipoma : painless, slow-growing cysts that are soft to the touch.
  • Pyogenic granuloma – A rapidly growing red papule that bleeds easily and can be hard or smooth.

Vaginal cysts

About 1 to 2% of women develop a vaginal cyst at some point in their lives. These cysts can form as a result of damage to the vaginal walls during childbirth or surgery, a blockage of the gland, or a benign tumor in the vaginal lining. Sometimes the cause cannot be determined.

About 10% of benign vaginal cysts are Gartner duct cysts, congenital (present at birth) cysts that generally go unnoticed until a woman visits a doctor or gynecologist for a routine checkup. These cysts arise during embryonic development.

Other benign vaginal cysts include:

  • Muller's cyst – Another cyst that arises from the remaining embryonic material that may be asymptomatic, but may also lead to vaginal bleeding or difficulty urinating later in life.
  • Enclosed Cyst – Small, painless cysts that develop at the back of the vagina, usually caused by damage to the mucous membrane during surgery or childbirth.

Most Gartner duct cysts, Mueller cysts, and inclusion cysts remain small and painless and do not require treatment. If a cyst is found during a pelvic exam , your doctor may order an ultrasound or MRI scan to diagnose it. A biopsy may also be done to rule out cancer. Enlarged, inflamed, or symptomatic vaginal cysts must be removed surgically to prevent recurrence.

Never pick a cyst or try to remove it yourself. This can lead to infection and scarring. To soothe the cyst at home, try a sitz bath (warm water) for 10 to 15 minutes several times a week. Adding 1/4 cup of Epsom salt can provide additional therapeutic relief.

Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum (CM) is a viral infection that can cause small, raised papules to grow anywhere on the body. There may be just one or an entire group, and while they are generally painless, they can be very itchy.

MC papules tend to be smooth and firm with a dimple in the center and can be pink, white, or flesh-colored. The infection is transmitted through sexual or non-sexual skin-to-skin contact and is most common in children, sexually active adults, and immunosuppressed individuals.

Fortunately, CM infections generally resolve within six to nine months, and there are several treatment options to aid in the healing process. Cryotherapy is considered one of the most effective treatments, although it has received some criticism for the risk of blistering, scarring, or hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin). A type of non-invasive surgical scaling, also known as curettage, is also effective in physically removing papules, although it can also cause scarring.

For the topical treatment of CM, ingredients such as cantharidin, potassium hydroxide, imiquimod, iodine, and salicylic acid are often used. Immunomodulatory and antiviral treatments may also be considered. As always, treatment must be prescribed by a doctor.


Varicose veins are a common disease in adults, generally affecting the superficial veins (close to the surface of the skin) in the lower extremities of the body . The condition occurs when blood pressure rises in a weak or damaged vein, causing the vein to kink, dilate, and stick out of the skin.

Varicose veins of the vulva are more common in pregnant and postpartum women, and are estimated to occur in 18% to 22% of pregnant women. As blood collects in the veins of the vulva, bumps can form on the outer surface of the lips, sometimes mistaken for a Bartholin gland cyst or hernia . While some women experience no symptoms, others report lip swelling, pressure on the vulva, fatigue, and a sensation of pain, burning, or itching.

Pregnancy causes increased blood flow to the pelvis and genitals, which usually stops after delivery. Within six weeks, varicose veins on the vulva also usually disappear, but if they don't (or continue to grow), they can be treated with surgery. The most common procedure is minimally invasive embolization, in which the varicose vein is blocked to prevent further congestion. Another option is sclerotherapy , a procedure in which a solution is injected into a vein to close it, causing blood to be redirected to other veins.

Genital warts

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year. There are at least 100 different types of HPV, and while most are considered relatively harmless, others can cause more serious health problems, such as cervical cancer or genital warts.

The first HPV vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2006, but was discontinued due to reports of side effects. In 2014, a newer version of the Gardasil 9 vaccine was approved for use in men and women and was shown to be 88% effective against nine cancer-causing strains of HPV.

HPV strains 6 and 11 do not carry a high risk of cervical cancer, but they are responsible for 85% to 95% of genital warts associated with HPV. The HPV vaccine is very effective in protecting against both strains.

Among those who have not been vaccinated against HPV, only 10% will develop genital warts . If you are infected with the strain of HPV that causes them, warts may not develop for several months (2.9 months is the average time for women). When they do develop, they often go unnoticed. They can form on or around the vulva, vagina, or cervix.

Genital warts can look very different. They can be raised or flat, smooth or similar in texture to cauliflower. They can be flesh-colored or lighter, dark purple, or brown. There may be only one or there may be a group. And while some people don't experience any symptoms, others may have warts that itch or bleed.

In most cases, genital warts go away on their own. Available treatment options include cryotherapy, surgery, antimitotics (podofilox), and imiquimod cream formulation (3.7%). This can reduce the number of flare-ups, but only time can completely eliminate HPV.

Genital herpes

There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV) called HSV type 1 and HSV type 2. In 2016, 47.8% of people between the ages of 14 and 49 were living with HSV type 1 in the United States. That year, 11.9% of people were also living with HSV type 2, making genital herpes one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. HSV It is a lifelong infection with no known cure and in increasing numbers, and women suffer from it more often than men.

HSV type 1 is usually transmitted by the oral-oral route (herpes), although oral-genital transmission is increasing. Genital herpes is most often caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 and is transmitted through sexual penetration. This type is characterized by recurrent herpetic sores that appear and disappear at the site of infection and do not always have symptoms. Consequently, the infection can easily be transmitted between two sexual partners, even if neither party knows about it.

Women can develop a genital herpes rash on the vulva, inside the vagina, or on the cervix. The sores are usually small, clear, fluid-filled, and surrounded by red, irritated skin. They can burst and ooze with a green or yellow discharge, and they can be painful and itchy, accompanied by a burning sensation when urinating. If a rash appears inside the vagina or on the cervix, it can be misdiagnosed as a pelvic inflammatory disease or a urinary tract infection . About 70% of women also report fever, headache, and malaise during an outbreak.

According to the CDC, it is best to have a blood test for genital herpes if you have genital symptoms that may be associated with herpes, have (or have had) sex with a partner who has genital herpes, or have multiple sexual partners and they like it. take a comprehensive STD test.

Fordyce beads

Fox-Fordyce disease is an unusual condition that causes chronic inflammation of the apocrine sweat glands, glands found in areas with a large number of hair follicles, especially in the groin, armpits, and around the nipples. During an exacerbation, the apocrine glands enlarge and become inflamed with severely itchy papules. Women with this condition often develop multiple small, hard, flesh-colored papules on the lips, and their itching can lead to a secondary infection of the hair follicles.

More than 90% of patients with Fox-Fordyce disease are women; Researchers are not sure what causes this condition, although it is clear that hormones and genetics play a role in its development. Because the apocrine glands are responsible for stress-related sweating, breakouts are usually triggered by emotional stress and subsequent hormonal changes. Research also shows that laser hair removal can cause this condition in some people.

There are a variety of treatment options available, but the success of treatment may be limited because the available options do not prevent stress or sweating. Your healthcare professional may recommend:

Vaginal skin tags

Skin tags (or "polyps") are painless growths that can form anywhere on the skin. They are usually benign, although postmenopausal women are at higher risk of developing malignant polyps. In women, 50% of genital polyps form in the uterus (endometrial polyps), but they can also form on the cervix or, less commonly, in the vagina. Several factors can contribute to its development, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, age, or changes in sex steroid hormones.

Medical professionals or gynecologists may not find a polyp unless an ultrasound or hysteroscopy is ordered. Its appearance is different; Polyps range in color from reddish purple to gray or white. The growth also varies in size and tends to resemble a stem with a bulb at the end. Various symptoms have been reported, such as vaginal discharge and bleeding between periods or after intercourse.

Endometrial polyps can cause infertility, although women often spontaneously become pregnant shortly after the polyp is removed.

Small polyps that do not cause symptoms may not need treatment. Your healthcare professional may recommend surgical removal of large or potentially malignant polyps. Small polyps can be removed in the office with liquid nitrogen, while larger polyps may require hysteroscopic surgery, a procedure that involves anesthesia .


To diagnose vaginal acne, your healthcare professional will likely want to examine your acne. They can diagnose them by their appearance. You should also inform your doctor:

  • When did you notice the pimple (s)
  • If acne led to discharge
  • If the outbreak has changed over time
  • Painful or itchy pimples

If the bumps near your vagina don't look like pimples, your doctor may also ask about recent sexual intercourse.

Most diagnoses can be made based on the medical history and physical examination. However, depending on the probable cause, your healthcare provider may perform additional tests (such as an HPV test) to confirm the diagnosis.

Watch out

If your doctor has confirmed that your vaginal acne is acne, you have several treatment options. Basically, you should focus on good hygiene and keeping your skin clean.

Cure for the underlying condition

Skin in the genital area is more sensitive than skin on other parts of the body, so you should always discuss your options with your doctor before starting treatment. Different conditions require different treatments, which can range from topical medications to oral medications, subcutaneous medications (injected into the skin), or surgical excision. As you research the medications available for your condition, you may face:

  • Oral antibiotics: for ingrown hairs, Fordyce spots, or Bartholin's gland cysts.
  • Oral antiviral drugs: for sexually transmitted diseases like MC, HPV genital warts, or genital herpes.
  • Imiquimod cream: for genital herpes, genital warts caused by HPV, or infections such as molluscum contagiosum.
  • Oral contraceptives: for Fordyce spots or excessive acne.

Warm compress

Warm compresses are helpful for soothing painful cysts or ingrown hairs, while cold compresses are better for itching. If your condition is contagious or you suspect it might be, you can use a compress to ease the discomfort. However, you should use a clean towel each time to avoid re-infection and spreading the infection through the fomites .

Use a cold compress to soothe varicose veins, as the heat increases blood flow and causes the veins to dilate. Cold compresses can also be more therapeutic for conditions that cause itching, such as MC or Fox-Fordyce disease. Just remember to dry your skin afterwards.

Local treatments

Your healthcare provider may also recommend topical treatments to help with acne. It could be an antibiotic, antihistamine, or even an acne medication. Understanding the nature of your condition is critical to treating it properly.

For example, the use of antibiotics kills the "good bacteria" on the skin as well as the bad ones. For this reason, you should only use topical antibiotics after your doctor has instructed you to do so. These treatments are useless for skin tags or varicose veins.

Always check with your doctor before using over-the-counter acne medications to treat vaginal acne. If you use products like benzoyl peroxide, you should stick to low concentrations and only use these creams on the outer skin.

Acne creams should not be applied to the vulva, lips, or other sensitive areas that may be irritated, unless done on the direct advice and under the supervision of a physician.


Here are some things that can help prevent a recurrence of vaginal acne:

  • Wear clean cotton underwear.
  • Avoid clothing that is too tight or that rubs the genital area.
  • Practice good hygiene, including showering after exercising and removing sweaty exercise clothing (instead of sitting in it for hours)
  • Change your menstrual products frequently during your period.
  • Trimming pubic hair instead of shaving (if acne is associated with razor use)

Also, if acne started after changing the type of soap or laundry detergent, try going back to the old product. It may happen that your skin finds a new product irritating and reacts with rashes.

Sexually transmitted infections

If you are sexually active, you can reduce (but not eliminate) your risk of infection in the following ways:

  • Learn to use latex condoms correctly and always use them
  • Get Pap tests and HPV tests at the times recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Maintain a mutually monogamous relationship with your sexual partner and ask him to be tested as well.
  • STI testing every time you have a new sexual partner

Remember that STIs can be transmitted even if you have no symptoms. For lifelong conditions like genital herpes, it's important to be honest with your partner and let them know if you have a herpes outbreak. Discuss the risks involved and together develop a safer sex plan.

Be sure to keep your doctor informed about your condition. You can always check with them if you are unsure whether it is safe for you to have sex.

Front facing

If your acne is caused by an STI, understand that getting an STI is not the end of the world, even if the type never goes away. According to the CDC, at least one in six people lives with genital herpes. In addition to this, millions of people have or will contract HPV at some point in their lives. In other words, you are not alone and you definitely do not need to stop enjoying life or connecting with other people.

Use this as an opportunity to strengthen your communication skills with romantic and sexual partners. Consult a psychologist if you need help with your diagnosis. If you are not in a relationship and you are concerned that your condition will prevent you from finding a partner, know that there are several dating apps for people with herpes, HPV, and other STIs.

Finding out that you have an STI can be intimidating, but you may just find that new doors will open for you as you learn to cope. Focus on your health and managing your condition with the help of a doctor and trust that everything else will fall into place. What you have is not who you are. Remember this.

Frequently asked questions

Is it normal to have acne on the lips, vulva or vagina?

Yes, pimples on the vagina are similar to pimples on other parts of the body and everyone gets them from time to time. Pimples in the private area are usually caused by ingrown hairs, clogged pores, or skin irritation due to allergens or friction.

What are these pimples on my lips?

Small, painless, skin-colored bumps on the labia majora may indicate vestibular papillomatosis, a harmless and normal difference in skin topography that affects approximately one in three women.

Can I tear a pimple on my lips?

It is not recommended to squeeze the pimples in the genital area. Pimples on the lips have a higher risk of infection than pimples on other parts of the body. Also, the appearance of a pimple on the lips can be more painful than the appearance of a pimple on other skin tissues.

How to get rid of a pimple on the lips?

Pimples in the genital area usually heal in a few days, but they can be uncomfortable. A warm compress can ease acne discomfort caused by ingrown hairs, while a cold compress can ease itchy acne. If the pimple doesn't go away after a few days, call your doctor.

Get the word of drug information

If you have concerns about the appearance of bumps or irritations on your genitals (or any other part of your body), consult your doctor. If these are not vaginal pimples, you may need to be tested for an infection. Be careful if you are sexually active and stay safe.

If the bumps are painful, emit pus, or other discharge, it's best to see a doctor right away. Therefore, if the bumps are not simple acne, they can be treated properly.

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