By Nereesha Patel; Photography by James Garaghty
It’s a zitty situation, but it’s easy to get out of it …
Breaking out on the face is one thing, but it can be disconcerting when you find yourself breaking out below the belt. Vaginal pimples look similar to the pimples that can occur in other areas of the body. Although they’re not usually a serious condition, they can cause your vagina serious discomfort from burning to itchiness.
So is there a reason why these pimples are suddenly showing up at your doorstep unannounced? It could be from one of these five causes below.
This is your skin’s reaction from coming into contact with chemicals that it’s sensitive to. Products including bubble baths, laundry detergent, feminine hygiene products like tampons or pads, and over-the-counter topical medications can cause irritation, which in turn can lead to equally-irritating pimples forming around your vagina.
Luckily, contact dermatitis is easy to treat. Try applying bland petroleum jelly around the area to soothe it, or soaking in a 10-15 minute lukewarm bath with four to five tablespoons of baking soda to alleviate the itching. If you suspect that one of your products is the culprit behind your pimply privates, avoid using it – sometimes contact dermatitis goes away on its own when it’s no longer in contact with the irritating substance.
Vaginal pimples may seem like a hair-raising situation – well, more like a hair-curling one. An inflammation or infection that affects one or more hair follicles, folliculitis can be caused by shaving your pubic hair; the hair growing out of the follicle can curl back towards the skin and cause pimples. Wearing tight clothing and not showering after excessive sweating can also increase your risk of getting this infection.
There’s no need to panic: folliculitis usually goes away on its own. In the meantime, use antihistamines to relieve yourself of the pain and itchiness. Also avoid wearing tight clothing, shower after a heavy sweating session and, if you must shave, do so only in the direction that the hair grows, preferably with an electric razor.
If you suddenly find yourself breaking out in red, painful and pimple-like bumps around your vagina, you’ve got hidradenitis suppurativa. According to the Mayo Clinic, this long-term (and long-named) skin condition typically occurs where the skin rubs together, causing itchy, burning and easy-to-break bumps to appear.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for hidradenetis suppurativa, although your doctor may recommend some treatments such as antibiotics, over-the-counter pain relievers and Methotrexate, a medication that’s especially reserved for treating this condition.
Like hidradenitis suppurativa, molluscum contagiosum also causes bumps to appear on your vagina (and it also has a long name). There are two differences, though: it’s a skin infection caused by a virus bearing the same name, and the bumps are usually painless. Coming into contact with the skin of an infected person, touching contaminated objects like towels and clothes, or sexual contact can cause this virus to spread and the pimples to pop up.
Don’t worry, the infection clears up on its own. Applying liquids or creams to the afflicted area is an option, but not necessary.
The bumps may appear like pimples, but in reality they could be cysts, warts or other growths which can be a cause for concern. Genital herpes lesions look exactly like pimples, appearing around the vagina, vulva and anus. Similarly, genital warts – caused by the STI known as the human papillomavirus – are also pimply in appearance, but they can appear in clusters or as a single wart. Batholin’s cysts can be painful, especially when they occur so close on one side of the vaginal opening. Skin tags are merely little flaps of tissue that can’t harm you, although they do get irritating after a while.
It’s important to speak to your doctor about the treatment options available to you if you’re suffering from one of these conditions.