Here's why you're getting pimples on your vulva.

So, you've noticed some weird-looking bumps on your vulva and now you're freaking out and doing the ol' stress-induced Google at 1am. What fun!

Your crazed search history probably looks something like this: WTF do vulva pimples mean? Can you squeeze them? What if vulva pimples have no head? What's normal and what's not? What can I use on vulva pimples? CAN YOU USE ACTIVES ON YOUR VAG?

Watch: On the topic of staring at your vagina, how well do you know your lady garden? Post continues below.

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But look - not every bump on your vulva is a major cause for concern. Like, they can be anything from a pimple to a skin infection, and they're actually super common. So, no need to stress.

To save yourself from spending hours staring at your vulva and asking WebMD a lot of confronting questions, it's good to know what pubic area bumps to look out for.

We hit up OB/GYN Dr Nicole Stamatopoulos and dermatologist Dr Cara McDonald, and asked them everything we want to know about vulva bumps and pimples and how you can prevent them. 

Listen: Here's why Chrissy wasn’t phased by her vagina flash at the 2016 AMAs. Post continues below.

Important thing we must say: The bumps we're talking about in this article are the ones you might notice on your external genitalia. So, we're talking about pimples and bumps ON the vulva (not inside the vagina). Kapeesh? This might also help clear up any confusion when you're talking to your doctor.

What causes vulva pimples?

"Pimple-like lesions affecting the vulva (external parts of the female genitals) can result from a number of different causes," confirms Dr McDonald.

But as we mentioned before, vulva pimples are super common and you'll no doubt encounter them at some point in your life.

"A bump or lump in the perineal area does not mean there is anything wrong with you," adds Dr Stamatopoulos. "Often it is not as obvious as we think it is, and that's because it is such a sensitive area and it magnifies the concern."


Alrighty - let's get into it, shall we? Here are the most common causes of pimples on your vulva:

1. Folliculitis.

According to our experts, the most common bump on the vulva is folliculitis (ingrown hairs). 

"Folliculitis and ingrown hairs are common in those that shave or wax, usually causing small red bumps, often with a visible trapped hair and sometimes a yellow head," said Dr McDonald.

It's pretty similar to a pimple, meaning there's some sort of infection at the base of a hair follicle. "An ingrown hair will usually be where pubic hair grows outside of the labia," said Dr Stamatopoulos. 

"Ingrown hairs can be painful, irritated and red. It may get worse in pain over time and increase in size," she adds.


2. Hidradenitis suppurativa.

If it doesn't look like folliculitis or ingrown hairs, Dr McDonald said there's a chance it could be something called hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). 

Sounds 100 per cent scary, but it's basically a skin condition that develops when the hair follicle is blocked - most commonly, near the sweat glands.

Great. How do I know if I have HS?

Dr McDonald said this condition is usually characterised by "larger cysts, boils and abscesses in the groin region" - so it's not your average pimpy.

"Also known as acne inversa (reverse acne), HS is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune skin disease that causes persistent or recurrent boil-like lumps and abscesses that may, in more severe cases, progress to continuous discharge, sinuses, and scarring," explains McDonald.

The cause of HS isn’t exactly clear, and while there are treatments that can help manage the condition, there is no exact cure. Sad face.

"Hidradenitis suppurativa is under-diagnosed and has a significant psychological impact, and many patients suffer from anxiety, depression, and impairment of body image," said Dr McDonald.

How can I get rid of vulva pimples?

If you have pimples on your vulva, chances are you want to get rid of them, yes? Cool.

"If ingrown hairs seem to be the problem, then use of regular moisturiser and a gentle salicylic-based cream or wash may be helpful, but care must be taken to avoid irritation of sensitive genital skin," suggests Dr McDonald.

So, yeah - you can use the same kinds of products you use to tackle pimples on your face - just be super careful not to go too hard. 

If you're forever rocking folliculitis and ingrown hairs, you should maybe suss out an alternative to shaving or waxing. 


"Laser hair reduction is one of the most effective treatment options for severe or persistent cases," said Dr McDonald.

If you've ruled out folliculitis and ingrown hairs and you think you may have hidradenitis suppurative (we recommend going to an OB/GYN or dermatologist to check), while there is no exact cure, Dr McDonald said some general measures can help. 

"Weight loss in overweight individuals, stopping smoking and avoidance of tight, synthetic underwear can be useful," she said. "It is best however to seek the opinion of a dermatologist, as there are a variety of effective treatment options available."

Um... can I pop pimples on my vulva? Or nah?

In the interest of you not scarring your skin and giving yourself a cute infection, you should be ~extra~ careful with the squeezy squeezy in this area, okay?

While you can pop pimples in the perineal area, it can just be very bloody painful - especially if you go in too hard and mess up your skin. 

"Extreme care should be taken with any self-treatment of pimple-like lesions on the vulva," said Dr McDonald. "Trying to squeeze or pop vulval lesions will likely result in pain and skin trauma and could cause more extensive infection."

There are also specific bumps/pimples in certain areas that you *definitely* shouldn't squeeze. 

"The ones that require additional care are abscesses that can occur in the bartholin's gland or the skene's gland," said Dr Stamatopoulos  

The WHA? 

The bartholin's gland (sounds quite whimsical, no?) are two pea sized glands located to the left and right of the opening of the vagina, and their job is to secrete mucus for lubrication. 

Skene's glands are glands located around the lower end of the urethra, and this basically secretes fluid during an orgasm. However, sometimes cysts or bumps can appear if these glands becomes clogged.

For these specific areas, Dr Stamatopoulos said squeezing the bumps or pimples won't resolve them, and to steer clear of trying this. "They will require intervention by a gynaecologist." 

So, yeah - no touchy on the ol' bartholin's glands.

How do I know when a pimple or bump on my vagina is abnormal?

"No bump is particularly abnormal," said Dr Stamatopoulos. "It is whether it causes a problem for the woman." 

"If the bump is in an irritating spot that she notices all the time, then it's abnormal for her. If it is red, painful and getting bigger, it's abnormal for her. If it's not painful but getting bigger and was not there before, it's abnormal for her."

Note taken.

Feature image: Getty