Finding a bump near your vaginal area can quickly send you into a panic, but not every issue down there is cause for alarm. Bumps can be anything from a pimple to a skin infection, so to keep yourself calm, it's good to know what kind of
pubic area bumps to look out for. According to OB/GYNs, you'll no doubt encounter one of these at some point in your life, so it's important to know how each of these vaginal bumps differ and how you can prevent them.
"[Vaginal bumps are] actually quite common,"
Dr. Octavia Cannon, an OB/GYN, tells Bustle. "Some are normal and may resolve on their own. However, it's always best to get anything new checked out by your gynecologist to be sure. You should check [your vagina] out at least twice monthly to make sure that everything looks normal down below."
It's important to note that
bumps you may notice on your external genitalia are most often located on the vulva or around the anus, not inside the vagina, technically speaking. This can help clear up some confusion when confronted with a bump or talking to your doctor. Here are eight kind of vaginal bumps that OB/GYNs say every woman should look out for:
The most common bump in the vagina is
folliculitis, which can sometimes be related to hair removal with shaving or waxing — hello in-grown hairs! "Folliculitis is similar to a pimple, meaning an infection at the base of a hair follicle," Jessica Vaught, MD, gynecologist and Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, tells Bustle. "This can happen very commonly and usually will resolve on its own." But if it is bothering you, and you notice it is not going on away, speaking with your OB/GYN will help you find solutions for treatment. Bartholin's Gland cysts occur at the bottom of the vaginal opening; they can be painful and are usually felt when sitting or walking. They are the most common cyst to occur in the vulva, with 2 percent of women experiencing this kind of cyst at least once in their lifetime. "The Bartholin's gland are located at the bottom of the vaginal opening, and their job is to secrete mucus," says Vaught. "If the gland become clogged, it will form a palpable lump that can grow as large as a golf ball." This can be evaluated by your gynecologist, and possible treatments include antibiotics and even drainage, if necessary.
Genital herpes usually presents as a vaginal sore or lesion. "Herpes is usually not silent, meaning the patients will usually be symptomatic with burning, pain, and itching," Vaught says. "Genital herpes can start as a small bump, but then it will develop into a blister and then an ulcer. This can be treated with an anti-viral medication, but needs to be evaluated by your doctor."
Herpes is incredibly common, and nothing to feel ashamed of. Don't be afraid to speak up if you have these symptoms, and discuss with your doctor the best treatment plan for you.
Caused by the
human papillomavirus (HPV), genital warts are cauliflower-like lesions that can grow on the labia, inside the vagina, on the cervix, and even around the anus. "They are usually painless, but can have itching and burning," Vaught says. "Both herpes and genital warts are considered sexually transmitted diseases." As with herpes, genital warts are also nothing to be ashamed of. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), with 79 million Americans having the infection. If you notice these symptoms, consult your doctor who can help you find a solution you're comfortable with.
"Women can also develop varicose veins in the vagina that can appear to be bumps," Vaught says. "They will look like bluish, raised bumps." These bumps are usually painless, but they can occasionally cause itching and may bleed. They are also very common in pregnant women — it is estimated that
18 to 22 percent of pregnant women have varicose veins the develop around their vulva. Treatment is not usually necessary for this type of bump, and some doctors will recommend applying ice packs to the affected area. In more severe cases, doctors can inject varicose veins with a solution to help them close, and fade.
Skin tags, or small protruding flaps of extra skin, are
very common and can occur in the vagina as well. "They are harmless, but sometimes cause discomfort secondary to them rubbing on other tissues," Vaught says. "They can be removed surgically if they are causing discomfort." Molluscum Contagiosum are tiny, flesh-colored bumps with a white dimple in the middle are a very common, but highly contagious skin disease caused by a virus. "Shared towels or clothing, a sweaty bike seat at the gym, wrestling and other mat sports, and sexual contact is how this virus is spread," Dr. Shannon Klingman, an OB/GYN, tells Bustle. Thankfully, molluscum contagiosum is usually harmless and tends to go away on its own. If it becomes a concern to you, though, your doctor can freeze them away using cryotherapy.
These are whiteheads or deeper pimples where the center forms a black, waxy core. "Astringents used for facial acne on a cotton ball can be used to help heal the area and prevent the return of one after you have removed it," Klingman says.
Seeing a bump may be scarily initially, but it's
typically no need to worry. Your doctor can help you identify what is causing your bumps, as well as how to treat them.