Pimple on Vagina

Overview

What is a vaginal pimple?

A pimple is a small red growth on the surface of the skin. It’s often due to acne, when skin pores become clogged with oil, bacteria or other substances.

Yes, a pimple can form on the external tissue (vulva and labia). It’s also known as vaginal acne. You may be surprised to find a pimple in this area. But it's nothing to be concerned about. Having a pimple on your vulva is common.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a pimple?

The main symptom is a red bump. It may be:

  • Small and raised (papule).
  • White at the tip because it’s full of pus (pustule).
  • Tender to the touch.

What causes a pimple to form near my vagina?

There could be many causes besides acne. These include:

Contact dermatitis, a reaction to materials and other substances that touch the vulva. This may include:

  • Condoms or lubricant.
  • Douche applicators or fluid.
  • Feminine wipes.
  • Laundry detergent.
  • Scented bath products.
  • Semen.
  • Sweat.
  • Tampons or sanitary pads.
  • Urine.
  • Vaginal discharge.

Folliculitis, which occurs when pubic hair follicles become inflamed or infected. Folliculitis may be due to:

  • Ingrown hairs.
  • Razor burn.
  • Shaving.
  • Tight-fitting clothes.
  • Unclean water in a bathtub, hot tub or swimming pool.

Hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa), a skin disease affecting the sweat glands in the groin. It can cause pus-filled sores that come back after treatment and leave scars.

Molluscum contagiosum, a viral infection that causes growths to form on the body. These growths sometimes occur in the genital area. Breakouts can take months to clear up.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including:

  • Genital herpes, which is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Symptoms come and go, but the virus stays with you for life.
  • Genital warts, which are caused by human papillomavirus. These growths look more like cauliflower florets than pimples.

Skin tags, small flaps of skin that form in areas where the skin rubs against itself. They are harmless but don't go away on their own.

Uncommon causes, including Bartholin cysts. These occur when glands on either side of the vagina become blocked. The area becomes inflamed and pus collects.

Diagnosis and Tests

When should I see a healthcare provider about a pimple on my genitals?

You should see your healthcare provider if:

  • Genital pimples occur regularly.
  • They’re painful or large.
  • You’re concerned they are not pimples.

How is vaginal acne diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider can diagnose genital pimples after a quick examination. If the provider is concerned the pimple is something other than vaginal acne, they'll perform a more thorough assessment.

This may include:

  • Discussing your hygiene habits.
  • Checking for changes in your daily routine that may cause contact dermatitis.
  • Asking you about your sexual history.
  • Running tests to rule out a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Management and Treatment

What types of vaginal pimple treatments might I need?

Pimples due to vaginal acne or ingrown hairs go away on their own. Other causes may need therapies that include:

  • Acne medications that reduce inflammation or the amount of oil your skin produces.
  • Antihistamines to treat allergies and other sources of inflammation.
  • Antiviral medications for viruses causing STIs.
  • Imiquimod cream, which quiets immune system responses to genital warts and molluscum contagiosum.

Prevention

How can I prevent vaginal pimples?

There are steps you can take to prevent certain causes of genital pimples:

  • Avoid tight-fitting pants or underwear.
  • Choose underwear made of cotton or breathable materials.
  • Wash your genital area daily with mild soap.
  • Promptly change out of sweaty clothes.
  • Trim pubic hair instead of shaving.
  • Switch out pads and tampons regularly when you have your period.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the outlook for people with vaginal pimples?

Many genital pimples clear up on their own within a few days. If your treatment includes medications, it can take a few weeks for pimples to clear up.

Living With

What can I expect if the growths are not genital pimples?

Self-care methods may prevent symptom flare-ups or relieve discomfort.

For STIs

  • Mutual monogamy: You can reduce your risk of flare-ups by limiting intimacy to one person. That person should only be intimate with you as well.
  • Practicing safe sex: You should use a condom every time you have intercourse.

Self-care for short-term symptoms

  • Warm compress for pain or itching: Soak a hand towel in warm water. Wring it out before applying to your skin with gentle pressure.
  • Cool compress for swelling: This treatment is like a warm compress but with cool water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I pop it?

You should resist the urge to pop these pimples because:

  • It’s painful: The skin on your vulva is sensitive. Popping vaginal pimples will be uncomfortable.
  • Bacteria can spread: When a genital pimple bursts, the bacteria in it might end up in other areas of your vagina. This increases your risk of future genital pimples or irritation.

How long do vaginal pimples last?

Genital pimples will usually go away on their own in a few days. Contact your doctor if the pimple hasn’t cleared up within a few weeks.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Pimples form near the vagina for many reasons. They typically clear up on their own. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed to call your healthcare provider if you’re concerned. They may prescribe treatments that help genital pimples go away faster. Healthcare providers can also determine the cause of growths that aren't pimples.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/04/2021.

References

  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Disorders of the Vulva: Common Causes of Vulvar Pain, Burning and Itching. (https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/disorders-of-the-vulva-common-causes-of-vulvar-pain-burning-and-itching) Accessed 11/4/2021.
  • National Health Service (United Kingdom). Keep Your Vagina Clean and Healthy. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/keeping-your-vagina-clean-and-healthy/) Accessed 11/4/2021.
  • American Sexual Health Association. Vaginal Health. (https://www.ashasexualhealth.org/vaginalhealth/) Accessed 11/4/2021.
  • Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. Genital Herpes. (https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/genital-herpes) Accessed 11/4/2021.
  • Planned Parenthood. Is It Normal to Get Sore Around Your Vagina During Your Period? (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/is-it-normal-to-get-sores-around-your-vagina-during-your-period) Accessed 11/4/2021.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy