4 Causes of Bumps on the Vaginal Area

In most cases, small bumps near your vaginal area are nothing to worry about.

If you spot small bumps near your vaginal area, don't panic. Many times, those bumps will resolve on their own without treatment. But medications and creams may be available for more severe cases.

Here's what you need to know about four common causes and treatments of vaginal bumps and when to see a healthcare provider.

Folliculitis

Bumps near the vagina that look like small red pimples may be folliculitis. Those bumps can occur anywhere on the skin where you have hair. Folliculitis can occur when hair follicles get clogged or infected. 

One of the most common causes of folliculitis is Staphylococcus (staph) bacteria. Bacteria may breed and clog the pores when you shave, wax, or wear tight, sweaty workout leggings or dirty underwear. Fungi and viruses can also cause folliculitis.

In most cases, folliculitis resolves on its own. But hot and moist compresses can help. A healthcare provider may also prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal treatment in some cases.

You can help prevent folliculitis by changing your razor blade every time you shave your vaginal area or using an electric razor. Keeping the vulva clean is also important.

See a healthcare provider if you frequently experience folliculitis, if it worsens, or if your symptoms last more than three days. Also, people with weak immune systems may have severe cases of folliculitis.

Contact Dermatitis

Itchy, rash-like, or swollen skin surrounding bumps might be contact dermatitis, commonly known as eczema. Sometimes, your skin may be sensitive to an irritant, like a new detergent or body wash. In other cases, allergens cause eczema flares.

Identifying and avoiding irritants and allergens can help treat contact dermatitis. Also, a healthcare provider may order some allergy tests.

Sometimes, you may not need to do anything for the rash to disappear. But moisturizing creams may help alleviate or prevent symptoms. Other times, a healthcare provider may prescribe a cream or ointment.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

With irritant contact dermatitis, bumps near the vaginal area may occur if your skin adversely reacts to friction. Some of the following substances may also cause those bumps:

  • Soaps
  • Detergents and fabric softeners
  • Hair dyes

Allergen Contact Dermatitis

In contrast, allergic contact dermatitis is a type of allergic reaction. Unlike irritant contact dermatitis, repeated exposure may not cause a reaction. Instead, an allergic reaction typically starts 24–48 hours after you come into contact with the allergen. 

Some of the most common allergens that you may use near your vaginal area include:  

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

Cysts

Small bumps near the vaginal opening may be cysts, pouches filled with air, fluid, pus, or other bodily substances. Cysts can be as small as a pea or as large as an orange. 

Most cysts don't cause symptoms. But you may experience discomfort during sex or tampon insertion. No matter your symptoms, if you notice any mass near your vagina, consult a healthcare provider.

Often, treatment involves waiting and checking on any changes to the cysts. But you may surgically remove or drain the cysts.

Bartholin Cysts

In particular, one type of vaginal cyst is a Bartholin cyst. Those cysts form in two small glands, called Bartholin glands, on either side of the opening that secretes mucus to lubricate the vagina. Fluid can build up in a Bartholin gland, causing a blockage.

Bartholin cysts can become swollen and painful. So, a healthcare provider may need to cut and drain them. Additionally, they may prescribe antibiotics. In some cases, Bartholin cysts can return and require more treatment.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as genital herpes, genital warts, and molluscum contagiosum, can cause bumps near the vagina. 

If there's a possibility that you contracted an STI, be sure to immediately visit a healthcare provider. Also, avoid sexual activity until you get test results and treatment if needed.

Herpes

Sores caused by genital herpes, a common STI in the United States, are blisters that can break and become painful. Sores may come back in outbreak episodes. 

There's no cure for herpes sores. However, medications can help reduce symptoms and the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes genital warts, which are also common in the United States, typically as one or a group of small bumps around the vagina. Those warts may appear flat or look like cauliflower.

There's no cure for HPV. But HPV vaccines help prevent the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HPV vaccines to people aged 9–26. The HPV vaccine can also reduce your risk of cervical cancer that links to certain strains of HPV.

To treat genital warts caused by HPV, a healthcare provider may prescribe creams, apply a chemical in-office, or recommend surgery.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a virus that spreads through physical contact or contaminated objects, like clothing or towels. But most cases transmit through sexual contact. 

The virus only affects the top layer of the skin. So, unlike genital herpes, molluscum contagiosum doesn't stay in the body after the lesions are gone.

Multiple options can treat molluscum contagiosum, like creams, oral medicines, and physical removal.

A Quick Review

Folliculitis, eczema, cysts, and STIs may cause bumps near the vagina area. See a healthcare provider if you have any bumps near the vaginal area. While many bumps won't require treatment, ruling out infections and understanding your risk of transmitting them to others is important. 

Was this page helpful?
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. National Library of Medicine. Folliculitis.

  2. National Library of Medicine. Contact dermatitis.

  3. National Eczema Society. Contact eczema (dermatitis).

  4. National Library of Medicine. Vaginal cysts.

  5. National Library of Medicine. Bartholin cyst or abscess.

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

  7. National Library of Medicine. Genital herpes.

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

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV vaccine.

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transmission.

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

Related Articles