The discovery of a bump on, around, or in the vagina can be cause for alarm. The anatomical nature of the female genitalia comes with its own set of complications and risks in sexual health and hygiene. Women also tend to suffer from additional factors of stigma and shame, than men, when it comes to their sexual health, which is counter-productive towards taking the steps necessary to address a specific sexual health condition. The additional weight of embarrassment often results in prolonged exposure to an infection which, in turn, can result in serious health risks and medical complications.
While a bump on the vagina is often a symptom of having a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), there are numerous and common skin conditions that are non-STD related which could be the cause for vaginal bumps.
In this segment, STDAware presents the most common causes of bumps in and around the vaginal region. More specifically, this article will cover both the signs and symptoms associated with non-STD related vaginal bumps as well as the factors and risks most commonly related to STD-related vaginal bumps.
What To Do If You Find A Bump On Your Vagina
While tempting, it is important NEVER to pop or squeeze any vaginal bumps. Popping or squeezing can increase the inflammation, worsen and spread an infection, and can lead to scarring. Any vaginal bump and surrounding area should be kept clean and dry.
Changing underwear throughout the day if necessary is a good measure to avoid various vaginal infections. Changing out of work out gear as quickly as possible will also assist in preventing a variety of vaginal infection and bump factors.
Avoid using any harsh soaps or scrubbing too hard, since the skin in this region is sensitive and easily irritated. It is important to monitor any vaginal bumps and observe if they spread, grow or do not go away over a period of time (indicating that there is a deeper infection).
Non-STD Causes Of Vaginal Bumps
Skin irritations such as bumps and rashes are common for many people. Female genital sores and lesions can originate from both internal and external factors. These sores may appear as small red or flesh-colored bumps that are sometimes itchy, painful, tender, and can sometimes produce discharge.
When assessing bumps in the vaginal region, keep in mind that the skin in this area is thin and therefore more at risk for irritation and infection. Take note of the size, texture, number of bumps and whether or not there are rapid changes to the appearance or number of bumps. While it is not uncommon to have a non-STD related bump on the vagina, know that bumps found around the vagina are a significant indicator of an STD even in the absence of any other symptoms.
That said, the most common non-STD related causes for bumps on the vagina include:
- Poor Hygiene: Not maintaining proper hygiene can cause the pores around the vagina and on the labia to become clogged and result in one or more bumps. This type of “bump” can occur anywhere on the body, including the genitals, when the area is not properly and regularly cleaned. With proper washing and care, bumps should subside within a few days.
- Folliculitis: This condition exists when a hair follicle is infected and creates an inflamed bump around the hair shaft. Ingrown hair bumps can be purplish or yellow happen when an oil gland is clogged. With proper hygiene and patience, they should subside within a few days without any treatment.
- Razor Burn: These are bumps that arise after shaving due to infected or ingrown hairs. This bumpy rash will go away within a few days, without any treatment.
- Vaginal Varicosities: These bumps are usually blue in color and can occur in women and girls of all ages. It is a common condition of inflammation around the vulva and vagina. They are swollen veins, similar to hemorrhoids and may become tender or bleed. Seek professional, medical treatment if you are experiencing this type of inflammation with raised areas around the vagina that appear blue.
- Staph Infection: An infection caused by staph bacteria is a serious condition. It will often start off as a small white or skin colored bump but will rapidly grow and become red and inflamed. It can infect the surrounding skin and internal organs and should be treated as quickly as possible. While not classified as an STD, it is contagious. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary for a staph infection.
- Sebaceous Cyst/Sebum Cyst: These are small noncancerous bumps that can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the face, neck, and trunk. They arise around the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, the oil that lubricates the hair and skin. They are harmless but can cause discomfort and itching.
- Vulvar Cyst: The vulva has a variety of glands. If any of these vulvar glands become clogged, a cyst can form. Cysts can vary in size and are typically painless unless they become infected.
- Vaginal Cyst: These cysts sometimes form after childbirth or injury to the vagina. They typically present as small firm lumps found on the wall of the vagina and are usually not painful.
- Other Skin Cysts: These are nodules or soft, pus-filled bumps that occur on the skin from blocked pores and will typically resolve on their own but can be painful.
- Allergic Reaction: Allergies to latex condoms, spermicides, laundry detergent, and certain foods or other external factors, can result in bumps and rashes around the vagina. If an allergy is suspected, the suspected irritant should be avoided for 1-6 weeks. If the irritation persists or gets worse, there may be a more significant medical concern and STD testing should be considered.
THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW IF A VAGINAL BUMP IS RELATED TO AN STD OR NOT IS TO GET TESTED
While many non-STD related conditions result in bumps on or around the vagina the only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. If you have a bump or a pimple in the vaginal area and it does not go away, or changes in size or color, it is highly recommended that you get tested for STDs as soon as possible.
STDAware makes getting tested simple and quick. To find out more about getting tested through STDAware, click here.
STD Causes Of Bumps On The Vagina
STDs that are associated with vaginal bumps are most commonly transmitted through sexual activity (vaginal, anal, oral, manual sex), but can also be transmitted via intravenous drug use and are sometimes passed from mother to infant during childbirth. While STD transmission can vary by type of STD, all STDs are highly contagious.
STDs can present themselves with a variety of signs and symptoms. Many STDs have no symptoms at all. However, one of the main symptoms of an STD in women is the presence of a bump in the vaginal area.
The most common STD causes for vaginal bumps are:
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus): HPV is a group of low and high-risk viruses that comprises more than 150 strains. The low-risk strains may result in genital warts, while the higher risk strains can lead to cervical and uterine cancer. Genital warts are in the same family of diseases as chicken pox and are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, oral, anal, and vaginal sex. HPV “bumps” can appear flat or raised and are white or flesh in color. Generally, they do not itch and do not cause pain. Skin that is abraded or cut is especially susceptible to HPV infection. The mucous membranes of the vagina, anus, throat, mouth, eyes, and penis, are made up of several layers of thin skin. The nature of the skin being thin in these areas of the body makes these areas at a greater risk for developing genital warts. Warts can be transmitted from other parts of the same body or by another individual.
4% of genital warts are found at the opening of the urethra (in men). 25% of genital warts are on or around the anus.10% of genital warts are found on the cervix. 33% of genital warts are found between the vagina and the anus. 33% of genital warts are found inside the vagina, and 66% of genital warts are found near the vulva. Genital warts are sometimes too small for women to see or even notice. Warts that are inside the vagina or anus may cause pain or some discomfort, or no symptoms at all. There is a misconception that genitals warts are itchy or painful; however, this is only true in rare cases. If you do experience pain or itching associated with genital warts, avoid scratching at all costs. Scratching genital warts can lead to further complications that make treatment difficult.
If genital warts grow too large, they can interfere with urination and pregnancy. Overgrown genital warts can restrict tissues from stretching the way that they naturally should. A cesarean may be required if genital warts impose too many health risks to a pregnant mother.
Genital warts cannot be cured, but treatment is available to reduce or eliminate the presence of warts. The presence of genital warts could be an indicator of having another STD, or a medical condition that compromises the immune system. WARNING: HPV can be spread even in the absence of visible warts.
Genital herpes (HSV-2): Herpes is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane with the infected skin or physical herpes lesion. Genital herpes can be transmitted in the absence of a physical herpes blister. Once infected, symptoms can occur between two days and two weeks after infection, but may not present symptoms at all.
Symptoms include blisters or pimple type bumps on and around the point of contact. Herpes is a viral condition that cannot be cured and persists in the body. However, many effective treatments exist which can reduce or eliminate herpes outbreaks. Due to the popularity of oral sex, while HSV-2 is primarily responsible for herpes infections on the genitals, the oral version of herpes (HSV-1) that is generally responsible for cold sores and fever blisters on or around the mouth is commonly being found on the genitals. Inversely, HSV-2 is more often being found on the mouth and in the throat. To read more about the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2, click here.
- Molluscum Contagiosum Virus (MCV): MCV is a viral infection that results in small, firm, painless lesions or bumps that appear alone or in a patch one week to 6 months after initial infection. Bumps can be pink, red, skin-colored, or yellow in appearance and will generally have a “waxy” and lighter colored center. It is most commonly found in children but has become classified as an STD in recent years. MCV bumps can be itchy and may become infected if scratched. Left untreated the bumps will go away but can take anywhere from 6 months to 4 years. Clinical treatment can aid in the removal of MCV lesions
- Syphilis – Stage 1: Syphilis is a bacterial disease and can result in serious health complications if left untreated. There are four phases of a syphilis infection, and each of the syphilis stages has its own set of symptoms. Stage 1 of syphilis is generally characterized by a small, firm, skin-colored, painless “bump” at or around the point of infection (where the bacteria entered the body) usually around, on, or inside of the vagina, anus, mouth or lips. The appearance of lesions due to a syphilis infection will most likely occur within one week to 90 days after the initial infection. Syphilis “pimples” will rapidly disappear after they make an appearance, which makes it easy to mistake for a benign bump, blister or pimple. If you have had a change in sexual partners or behaviors, it is vital to be tested for syphilis and other STDs.
THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE AN STD IS TO GET TESTED
If you or your sexual partner is experiencing any suspicious symptoms, getting tested as quickly as possible is a vital part of the early identification of an STD. In general, the faster an STD is identified, the easier it is to treat and manage.
To learn more about STD testing methodologies and the time frame for accurate test results, click here.
Being diagnosed with an STD could mean you are at high risk of having another STD. STDAware offers full panel and individual testing options. To learn more about the STDAware testing options, click here.
THE ONLY WAY TO TREAT AN STD IS TO IDENTIFY IT THROUGH STD TESTING
STDAware is the only online service provider that offers follow up medical counseling for anyone who tests positive for having an STD (except for oral herpes, HSV-1). STDAware also provides prescription treatment to any of its patients who test positive for having chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HSV-2 (genital herpes) at no additional cost. To learn more about the free services provided by STDAware, click here.
Routine STD Testing, Education, and Awareness Can Reduce The Spread Of STDs
Because there are often no symptoms present in an infected person, an STD can be passed in quick succession from one unknowing partner to the next, resulting in the current STD "epidemic" and public health crisis in STD infection rates. The widespread nature of STDs in America can be significantly attributed to the lack of education and awareness of what STDs are and how to deal with them, as well as a general lack of STD testing resources and services.
That's why, in addition to creating and improving the means of STD testing, STDAware is committed to increasing sexual health awareness through the provision of no-cost education resources on the STDAware website. To view the no-cost educational resource center on the STDAware website, click here.
STDAware believes that with increased education, awareness, and routine STD testing, the sexual health and well-being of our nation will be improved.
STDAware empowers the individual to take charge of and safeguard their sexual health by making STD testing simple, quick, and accessible. To find out how easy STDAware makes getting tested, click here.
Take Charge Of Your Sexual Health
No one wants to get an STD. Knowing your body and taking charge of your health are crucial factors in your sexual health and overall well-being. Routine testing along with open and mature conversations with any sexual partner(s) can prevent and reduce the spread of STDs.
Click here to learn more about how to ask your partner to get tested for STDs.
STDAware’s caring and knowledgeable advice counselors are available to speak with you and answer any of your STD questions.
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