Is Blue Waffle Disease A Real STI? 

Fake photos of blue waffle disease have circulated on the internet. But, the condition is not real.

Woman taking a bath in a white bathtub in a white bathroom
Trinette Reed/Stocksy

Since its creation in 2010, the notorious "blue waffle disease" photo of a scabbed, infected, blue-tinted labia continues to circulate on the internet. This picture may look convincing, but there is no sexually transmitted infection (STI) called blue waffle disease that turns the vagina blue. Still, unsuspecting people may believe the photo is real and worry they could get the disease.

The bottom line: Blue waffle is not a real STI. Some people may notice that their labia becomes darker during and after puberty, but that's completely normal.

If your vagina has unusual rashes, sores, discharge, or pain, you could have a real STI or vaginal infection. But it won't be blue waffle disease.

What Is Blue Waffle Disease?

Blue waffle—"waffle" referring to a slang term for vagina—is a fake STI. The internet hoax claims that the fake STI turns the labia blue and mimics symptoms of real STIs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.

People often claimed the STI could only affect vaginas and also cause bruising and lesions. The photos may look terrifying and convincing, but the condition is not real.

Not only is blue waffle disease absent from reputable medical texts, periodicals, and websites, it has been debunked by prominent doctors. Dr. Anita Ravi, MD, a family medicine physician based in New Jersey, confirmed that the disease was not real in a 2017 speech posted on the Annals of Internal Medicine website.

"It is a well-known, elaborate internet hoax with somebody who has extensive, beautiful photoshopping skills," Ravi said in the 2017 presentation.

Dr. Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at the Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology at Orlando Health in Florida, also confirmed to Health that she has never heard of the disease and that it is not real.

Do Blue Waffle Symptoms Mimic Real Infections?

Some STIs and vaginal infections have similar symptoms to the fictional blue waffle disease. But no STI or vaginal infection can cause a blue-colored labia like in the fake photo.

Herpes Simplex Virus-2, or genital herpes, can cause blistering sores and ulcers that eventually become scabs (CDC, 2022). A vaginal yeast infection can also cause redness and swelling outside the vagina (CDC, 2022).

If you're experiencing discomfort, itching, or any other symptom on or around your vulva or vagina, Dr. Greves advises getting checked out by a healthcare provider. You won't be diagnosed with blue waffle disease, but tests might show signs of an STI or another condition. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis can also have symptoms similar to vaginal infections, such as abnormal discharge and discomfort (Garcia, 2022).

Should You Get STI Testing?

If something in your genital area doesn't feel right or you notice abnormal discharge, see your healthcare provider about STI testing.

"If someone is having STI symptoms, regardless of whether they were recently exposed or not, it is important that they see their doctor," says Dr. Greves. "Sometimes symptoms do not present immediately."

Most routine STI testing involves taking blood or urine samples (Workowski, 2021). However, depending on the length of the infection, these tests may not always be accurate. To confirm STIs, your healthcare provider may also do a swab test. This involves swabbing the vagina or cervix during a pelvic exam to test the cells or grow bacteria in a lab setting to detect an infection (Workowski, 2021).

Getting STI test results can take anywhere from a few hours to two weeks. The timeframe depends on the type of test and the lab. However, results for swab tests typically take longer than blood or urine testing (Workowski, 2021).

If you are sexually active, there is always a risk of getting an STI. STI testing can help you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment options (CDC, 2021). Practicing safer sex with barrier methods can also help you reduce your risk of STIs. But, the good news is that you don't need to worry about the fictitious blue waffle disease.

Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaginal candidiasis.
  4. Garcia MR, Wray AA. Sexually Transmitted Infections. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; July 11, 2022.
  5. Ravi A. Annals on being a doctor story slam - how to treat blue waffle disease. Ann Intern Med. 2017;166(5):SS1. doi.org/10.7326/W17-0027
  6. Workowski KA, Bachmann LH, Chan PA, et al. Sexually Transmitted Infections Treatment Guidelines, 2021. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2021;70(4):1-187. Published 2021 Jul 23. doi:10.15585/mmwr.rr7004a1
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