4 Causes of Bumps Near Your Vagina—And How To Treat Them

Did you notice small bumps near your vagina or vulva? Here's what they could be—and what you can do about them.

If you spot small bumps near your vagina or on your vulva, don't panic. Many times, the bumps will resolve on their own without treatment. 

However, medications and creams may be available for more severe cases. Here's what you need to know about four common causes and treatments of bumps in the vaginal area, as well as when to see your healthcare provider.

Hair Follicle Inflammation

Do your bumps look like little pimples? Small red bumps—sometimes itchy or slightly tender—can occur when hair follicles get clogged or infected.

That common skin condition is called folliculitis, and it can occur anywhere on the skin where you have hair. In most cases, folliculitis bumps resolve on their own. People who are immunocompromised, or have a weakened immune system, may experience severe cases of folliculitis.

You can get bumps and irritation on your vulva from shaving (especially when ingrown hair becomes infected), waxing, or wearing tight, sweaty workout leggings or dirty underwear. Although, the most common cause of folliculitis is staphylococci (staph) bacteria. Still, it can also occur due to a fungus or virus. All of those factors allow bacteria to breed and clog the pores in the area.

You can help prevent folliculitis by shaving with a new razor blade or an electric razor in the area and keeping the vulva clean. And as far as treatments, hot and moist compresses can help. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal treatment.

See your healthcare provider if you experience this condition frequently, if it worsens, or if your symptoms last for more than three days.

Allergy or Skin Sensitivity

Red bumps and itchy, rash-like, or swollen skin around them might also be contact dermatitis caused by an allergy or skin sensitivity to a new detergent or body wash. The condition typically clears up in two to three weeks.

Contact dermatitis can be irritant or allergic. The former is the most common. Irritant dermatitis is a skin reaction that can occur because of friction or irritating substances you may use around your vulva, including:

  • Soaps
  • Detergents and fabric softeners
  • Hair dyes

People who experience atopic dermatitis (eczema) are at a greater risk of irritant contact dermatitis. As a first step to treating the rash, wash the irritated area with a lot of water.

Allergic contact dermatitis is a type of allergic reaction. Unlike irritant dermatitis, it may not develop after repeated substance exposure. When you get the response, it typically starts 24 to 48 hours after you come into contact with the allergen. You cannot cure the allergy.

Some common skin allergens that you may encounter around your vulva include:

  • Fabric materials and dyes
  • Fragrances in soaps and douches
  • Preservatives

Identifying and avoiding allergens and irritants is the first step to treating contact dermatitis. Your healthcare provider may order some allergy tests.

Sometimes, you may not need to do anything for the rash to disappear. In more severe cases, your provider may prescribe a cream or ointment.

A Cyst

Cysts are pouches filled with air, fluid, pus, or other bodily substance. They can be as small as a pea or as large as an orange. So, if you see a small lump near the vaginal opening, it may be a cyst.

Most cysts don't cause symptoms, though you may experience discomfort during sex or tampon insertion. No matter your symptoms, if you notice any mass around your vagina, make sure to speak to your healthcare provider.

Treatment often involves waiting and checking up on any changes in the cysts—the lumps typically remain small. You may also surgically remove or drain the cysts, and they'll be unlikely to come back.

Bartholin cysts are a type of vaginal cyst. They're formed in two small glands (called Bartholin's glands) on either side of the opening that secretes mucus to lubricate the vagina. Fluid can build up in a Bartholin gland and causes a blockage.

Those cysts can become swollen and painful, so your healthcare provider can drain them and prescribe antibiotics. Bartholin cysts can come back and require another round of treatment.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Certain STIs, such as genital herpes, genital warts, and a skin infection called molluscum contagiosum, can cause sores or bumps on the genitals. If there is a possibility that you contracted an STI, be sure to immediately visit your OB-GYN for a check-up. Also, avoid sexual activity until you get test results and treatment if needed.

Herpes sores are blisters that can break and become painful. They may come back in outbreak episodes. There's no cure for herpes sores, but there are medications to reduce symptoms and prevent the spreading of the virus to others. Genital herpes is common in the United States.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes genital warts, typically as one or a group of small bumps around the vagina. They may appear flat or similar to cauliflower. Genital warts are also common in the United States.

There's no cure for HPV. However, a vaccine to prevent the virus is recommended for people between the ages of 9–26 years (CDC). The HPV vaccine can also reduce the risk of cancer-causing infections.

Your healthcare provider can prescribe a cream to remove warts, apply a chemical on the warts in-office, or recommend surgery. 

Molluscum contagiosum is a virus that can spread through physical contact or contaminated objects such as clothing or towels. Most cases transmit through sexual contact. The virus only affects the top layer of the skin, so unlike herpes, it doesn't stay in the body after the lesions are gone. Multiple options can treat molluscum contagiosum, from creams and oral medications to physical removal.

Summary

If you experience any lesions in the vaginal area, see your healthcare provider. While many bumps won't require treatment, it's essential to rule out more severe infections and understand your risk of transmitting them to others.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Winters RD, Mitchell M. Folliculitis. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.

  2. National Library of Medicine. Folliculitis.

  3. National Library of Medicine. Contact dermatitis.

  4. National Library of Medicine. Vaginal cysts.

  5. National Library of Medicine. Genital herpes.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes - CDC basic fact sheet.

  7. Office on Women's Health. Genital warts.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transmission.

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment options.

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