Health

OB-GYNs Want You To Look Out For These 13 Kinds Of Bumps

Ingrown hair or cyst? Here’s what docs want you to know.

3 firm bumpy avocados form the shape of a chalice. Ob-gyns suggest looking out for these kinds of vu...
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Finding a bump in your nether regions 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 bumps differ and how you can prevent them.

Dr. Octavia Cannon, M.D., an OB-GYN, tells Bustle that lumps and bumps around your vulva are not uncommon. "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 vulva] 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; for example, a bump on your clitoral hood. Or they may around the anus or on your perineum. This can help clear up some confusion when confronted with a bump or talking to your doctor. Here are 13 kind of bumps that OB-GYNs say every woman should look out for:

1

Folliculitis

The most common bump on the vulva 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," Dr. Jessica Vaught, M.D., a 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." If it’s bothering you, and you notice it’s not going on away, speaking with your OB-GYN will help you find solutions for treatment.

2

Bartholin's Gland Cyst

Bartholin's Gland cysts can be painful bumps and are usually felt at the bottom of your sits-bones when sitting or walking. They are the most common cyst to occur in the vulva; the American Family Physician Journal cites 2% of women experiencing this kind of cyst at least once in their lifetime. The Bartholin's gland’s 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.

3

Other Kinds Of Skin Cysts

Many conditions associated with skin can impact your underwear zone, Dr. Felice Gersh, M.D., OB0GYN, founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group and the author of PCOS SOS Fertility Fast Track, tells Bustle. “Bumps found on the vulva include the possibility of a type of skin cyst, like an epidermal inclusion cyst.” An inclusion cyst is one of the most common types, and it’s not caused by a blocked gland. It’s sometimes formed from trauma to the vulva skin, though it can just occur on its own, and is often very small.

4

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes usually presents as a 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." You might be imagining scary pictures of boils on your vulva and labia, but 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.

5

Genital Warts

Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), genital warts are cauliflower-like lesions that can grow on the labia, inside the canal, on the cervix, or 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), according to the CDC, 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.

6

Moles

“Moles can develop on the vulva and present as pigmented bumps,” Dr. Gersh says. This could be a vulvar melanoma, or tiny cancer, or it could simply be a new mole; many people have moles or freckles around their vulvar region that turn out to be benign. If you notice a new raised brown mole, though, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.

7

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can also appear as bluish, raised bumps, says Vaught. These bumps are usually painless, but they can occasionally cause itching and may bleed. They are also very common in pregnant people — according to The International Journal of Women’s Health, it is estimated that 18 to 22% of pregnant people have varicose veins they 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.

8

Skin Tags

Skin tags, or small protruding flaps of extra skin, are very common pubic area bumps. "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."

9

Allergic Reactions

The skin of the vulva is very sensitive, and can suffer from contact dermatitis if it’s irritated. “Allergic reactions can sometimes cause irritation and bumpiness in vulvar skin,” Dr. Gersh says. In this case, the bumps will likely be accompanied by itchiness and irritation. Allergies can be caused by anything from new laundry detergents to body washes.

10

Molluscum Contagiosum

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, M.D., 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.

11

Blackheads

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.

12

Sweat Gland Infections

The sweat glands around the vulva can get infected, and that can result in bumps. “Infections of sweat glands can form, and when recurrent, can indicate a condition called hidrandenitis suppurativa,” Dr. Gersh says. The bumps will be painful to the touch or when you move, and may also get inflamed. They’re not simple pimples and will need medical treatment.

13

Small Tumors

A lump in your vulva can possibly be a tumor, but that doesn’t mean it’s malignant or cancerous. One possible cause is a neuroma, a kind of pinched nerve that will be quite painful, but can be treated, Dr. Gersh says, adding that tumors and cancers that take the shape of bumps in that area are very rare. Vulvar cancers only account for 0.6% of all cancers in women in the U.S., per Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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.

Studies:

Gavrilov, Sergey G. “Vulvar varicosities: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.” International journal of women's health vol. 9 463-475. 28 Jun. 2017, doi:10.2147/IJWH.S126165

Marfatia, Y. S., Patel, D., Menon, D. S., & Naswa, S. (2016). Genital contact allergy: A diagnosis missed. Indian journal of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, 37(1), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7184.180286

Omole, F., Kelsey, R. C., Phillips, K., & Cunningham, K. (2019). Bartholin Duct Cyst and Gland Abscess: Office Management. American family physician, 99(12), 760–766.

Sources:

Dr. Octavia Cannon, OB-GYN

Dr. Felice Gersh, OB-GYN

Dr. Jessica Vaught, OB-GYN, Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies

Dr. Shannon Klingman, OB-GYN