Owning a vagina isn’t a walk in the park. It’s sensitive, delicate, and prone to infections that are less likely to affect penises. Even sex can throw everything for a loop.
Things get even trickier if you shave or wax the area. These habits can cause mysterious bumps, or sometimes, they just show up on their own.
It’s enough to drive a lady crazy. But before you freak out, know that a bump doesn’t always point to an STD. You might actually be dealing with one of these harmless causes.
There are sweat ducts all over your body. Yes, even on the vagina! If these sweat ducts get blocked, hard bumps called syringomas can develop.
They may be yellowish, translucent, or skin-colored. Usually, syringomas don’t cause symptoms, but itching is possible. You can also find them on the armpits, upper chest, and belly button.1
2. Ingrown Hair
Do you shave, trim, or wax “down there”? Ingrown hairs may develop if cut hair curls back and grows in the skin. Symptoms include inflammation, irritation, and pus.2
It’s also one of the most common complications of removing pubic hair.3 Luckily, most ingrown hairs heal on their own, so just let it be.4
3. Sebaceous Cyst
The pubic area is home to thousands of hair follicles. If they swell up, a sebaceous cyst may form. This is defined as a closed sac under the skin filled with a cheesy or oily substance.
Most sebaceous cysts aren’t painful or dangerous. They’re most common on the face, neck, and trunk, but pubic hair follicles aren’t off the hook. You can apply a warm, moist compress to help a cyst drain and heal. And if it becomes sore or red? It might be infected, so have the doctor check it out.5
4. Bartholin Cyst
If a bump shows up in one of your vaginal lips, it’s probably a Bartholin’s cyst. This develops when one of the Bartholin’s glands is blocked by skin. These pea-sized glands are in charge of providing moisture, but if skin blocks one, fluid can back up.
The outcome is a tender cyst. If it’s tiny, try soaking in a warm bath a few times a day, for 3 to 4 days. Otherwise, your doctor can remove it with a minor procedure.6
Boils are infections that affect hair follicles. It’s possible to get one on the vagina, especially if you have ingrown hair. Most boils are caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.
These pea-sized bumps grow quickly. They’re full of pus and dead tissue, and can be pretty darn painful.7 Boils are common in areas prone to friction and hair growth, making pubic hair a vulnerable spot.8
To speed up healing, apply a warm moist compress several times a day. Continue even after it opens and drains. If it comes back or lingers for more than 2 weeks, have it checked out.9
Does this mean you should ditch the doctor? Not necessarily. Anything that looks strange or different should always get checked out, just to be safe.
|↑1||Syringoma. National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.|
|↑2, ↑4||Ingrown Hairs. Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Medical Branch.|
|↑3||DeMaria, Andrea L., Marissa Flores, Jacqueline M. Hirth, and Abbey B. Berenson. “Complications related to pubic hair removal.” American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 210, no. 6 (2014): 528-e1.|
|↑5||Sebaceous Cyst. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑6||Bartholin’s Gland Cyst. FamilyDoctor.org, American Academy of Family Physicians.|
|↑7, ↑9||Boils. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑8||Aly, Raza. “Microbial infections of skin and nails.” Medical microbiology. Galveston (TX): University of Texas, Medical Branch at Galveston (1996).|