A vaginal boil is a pus-filled bump that develops when a hair follicle becomes infected. Boils can occur outside of the vagina on the labia, vulva or pubic area. They can become red, swollen and painful. Most vaginal boils resolve on their own with at-home treatment but in some cases, medical treatment from a health provider is needed.
A vaginal boil (also called a furuncle or skin abscess) is a painful, pus-filled bump that develops under the skin in your pubic area. It usually happens when the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (commonly called staph) infects the sacs that contain the roots of your hair and oil glands (hair follicles). When a hair follicle becomes infected it is called folliculitis. A vaginal boil can also develop from a cut in the skin from shaving with a razor or other injury to the area. The bacteria will enter the body through the skin and cause infection.
These boils become more painful as they grow. Eventually they will rupture and drain. A boil can develop on the labia (lips of the vagina), in the pubic region (where pubic hair grows) or in the vulvar area around your vagina. Some women will get them in the skin fold of the groin. Boils will start out small but can grow as big as a golf ball.
A group of boils is called a carbuncle. This is when the boils are clustered together to form an area of infection.
Boils are usually not serious. Most will clear up on their own within a few weeks. In some cases, vaginal boils may need medical treatment to get rid of the infection and ease the pain.
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It’s quite common to have a boil near your vagina. This is because it is easy for a hair follicle to become infected with bacteria. Most vaginal boils can be treated at home.
The boil may start as a small, red bump. It can develop into a swollen, painful spot with a white or yellow pus-filled tip. This happens quickly — sometimes over a few days. It can feel tender and warm to the touch. Boils tend to get large — some might get as big as two inches or more.
Vaginal boils can start out small and could resemble a pimple or irritation from shaving or chafing. Once it grows and becomes painful, you’re probably developing an infection.
Signs and symptoms of a vaginal boil are:
Boils are caused by a staphylococcus (staph) infection, a type of bacteria that is found on the skin and inside the nose. It only causes problems when it gets inside the body. When bacteria get into areas of the skin that have been cut or broken open, a lump filled with fluid or pus will form. This is your body’s way of trying to eliminate the infection.
Some causes of boils include:
Yes, vaginal boils can be contagious because it is an infection that can spread from skin-to-skin contact. If you have a boil in your pubic region, you should:
Your healthcare provider will diagnose a boil on the skin in your pubic area after a physical exam. This should not cause any pain and will be relatively quick. Most of the time, a boil will resolve without any medical intervention. If the infection is severe or causes a lot of pain, you may need to have the boil drained or your provider may prescribe an antibiotic.
Tests aren’t usually used to diagnose a vaginal boil. If you have recurring boils, your healthcare provider may collect a sample of the drainage to see what kind of bacteria is causing the infection. Recurring vaginal boils may require a certain antibiotic or be a symptom of an underlying condition. You may also be given a test to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Most vaginal boils can be treated at home with no medical assistance. For at-home treatment you should:
Antibiotics are used to treat certain boils that develop near the vagina. Your healthcare provider will determine if an antibiotic is necessary or if at-home treatment will resolve the issue.
Most boils will resolve with at-home treatment. Never try to pop or squeeze a boil.
Severe complications of a vaginal boil are rare. Bacteria from the boil can spread to other parts of your body or enter your bloodstream. If this occurs, your heart, bones, brain or other organs could be at risk for infection.
You should never squeeze or pop a boil that develops near your vagina. This can cause the infection to spread to other areas. It will also make the pain and inflammation worse. Try home remedies that encourage the boil to rupture and drain on its own.
Boils on the skin around the vagina can’t always be prevented, especially if you have a weakened immune system. There are some things you can do to reduce the chances of getting another boil near your vagina:
Boils result from a bacterial infection. The following factors could make you more likely to get a boil near your vagina:
Most boils will heal on their own within three weeks. But there is no set time for how long it takes for a boil to develop or heal. Applying warm compresses can help the boil drain on its own. Taking antibiotics can help speed up the healing time, but antibiotics are not always prescribed.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms:
If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system for any reason and develop a boil, contact your healthcare provider.
Some women are more prone to getting vaginal boils. Boils near the vagina are caused by bacteria that enter through the skin and infect a hair follicle. Keeping your genital area clean and practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent recurring boils. If you shave your pubic area with a razor, change your razor often. An old or dull razor can harbor bacteria and cause ingrown hairs.
There is not a quick way to get rid of a boil near your vagina. A boil often takes weeks to resolve completely. Antibiotics from your healthcare provider may help speed up the healing process. Do not try to squeeze or pop a boil to get rid of it. This can spread infection and cause scarring. Applying a warm compress several times a day to the area is the best way to get rid of a vaginal boil.
You should tell your healthcare provider if you develop a boil when you are pregnant. Pregnancy does not cause boils, but certain hormonal and immune system changes could contribute to boils during pregnancy. In most cases, you will still follow at-home treatment. Apply a warm compress to the area several times a day to encourage the boil to drain. Depending on your symptoms and the size of the boil, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics.
If you have a boil near your vagina, it is best to avoid having sex. Since a boil is an infection, it could spread to your partner during sexual contact. Friction from sex can also irritate your boil.
A boil and a cyst are not the same. They will both look like bumps under the skin. Some of the biggest differences between a boil and a cyst are:
|Bacterial infection.||Not an infection.|
|Red, swollen and painful.||Usually painless.|
|Large and grow quickly.||May be smaller and slower growing.|
|Filled with white-yellow pus.||Filled with fluid or other material.|
|Not an infection.|
|Red, swollen and painful.|
|Large and grow quickly.|
|May be smaller and slower growing.|
|Filled with white-yellow pus.|
|Filled with fluid or other material.|
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Vaginal boils are a common skin infection that usually resolves with at-home care. Speak with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about a boil near your vagina. They will be able to recommend the best treatment for you and ensure you have the support you need.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/05/2021.
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