A Guide to Bumps on Your Vaginal Area

Medically Reviewed By Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
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Bumps in the vaginal area are typically a cause for concern. Identifying the exact cause can be challenging because there are multiple causative factors for them.

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. This article uses the terms “female” and/or “male” to refer to sex that was assigned at birth. 

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.

In this article, you will learn about the causes of common vaginal bumps and various treatment methods. 

What causes bumps in the vaginal area?

Image of an orange flower cover a females genital area
Liliya Rodnikova/Stocksy United

Common causes of bumps or swelling in your vaginal area include:

  • local inflammatory changes
  • irritations
  • allergic reactions
  • bacteria
  • viral infection of the surrounding vagina tissues

These bumps typically occur in the vaginal area called the vulva. Here are specific types of vaginal bumps. 

Vaginal cysts

Cysts appear as fluid-filled transparent swellings in the vaginal area.

Epidermal cyst

Epidermal cysts form when flat epithelial cells become trapped in the dermal layer of the skin around the vagina. An epidermal cyst often occurs following any blockage or trauma to the hair follicle-sebaceous gland unit around the vaginal area. This is why it is also called a sebaceous gland cyst.

Epidermal cysts appear as firm, yellow-white bumps and can occur at any age. These cysts are typically slow-growing and benign. However, they do have a risk of rupturing or an infection.

Vestibular gland cyst

Vestibular gland cysts are soft and round, painless swellings found in the vestibule (the vaginal opening) — specifically on the medial labia minora. They are benign cysts that vary in size. Vestibular cysts typically affect teenagers and middle-aged females who have used contraceptives.

Bartholin gland cyst

Bartholin gland cysts occur when there is a blockage in the Bartholin’s gland. This is the mucus-producing gland that produces secretions that lubricate the vagina.

Bartholin gland cysts are commonly asymptomatic and prevalent among females of reproductive age. Symptomatic Bartholin cysts typically occur as a distressing and painful vaginal bump.

Learn more about Bartholin gland cysts.

Varicosities

These are swollen and tortuous veins in the vagina. Varicosities may occur in isolation. They may also be linked with pelvic region congestion due to the compression of the large lower vein in the lower extremities of some pregnant women. 

Varicosities appear as a bluish swelling in the vagina and are often asymptomatic. However, varicosities may become uncomfortable and painful.

Ingrown hair

An ingrown hair occurs as a swelling around the vagina because of the removal of pubic hairs. It occurs due to improper removal of hair.

When you shave or wax your pubic hair incorrectly, this increases your risk of developing new hairs with abnormal growth and swelling. Ingrown hairs may become inflamed or infected.

Vaginal skin tags

These are benign soft tissue growths found in the skin around the vagina. Most vaginal skin tags have a stalk at the base, which attaches it to the skin. Skin tags appear in varying sizes and numbers but are not typically harmful. 

Here are some of the risk factors for skin tags:

  • local skin irritations
  • hormonal imbalances 
  • abnormal lipid profile
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease 
  • obesity 
  • genetic factors 

Learn more about vaginal skin tags.

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects the skin in the vaginal area. It is common in both prepubertal and postmenopausal females.

The exact cause is unknown, but it is common in females with autoimmune diseases. Lichen sclerosus may appear as asymptomatic white or purple lesions around skin folds in the genitals.

It affects the following areas:

  • interlabial sulci
  • labia minora
  • labia majora
  • clitoris 
  • clitoral hood

Pruritus or itching in affected skin areas is one of the clinical diagnostic markers for lichen sclerosus. 

Although doctors generally diagnose lichen sclerosus clinically, a skin biopsy is necessary for confirmation in some cases.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes multiple small bumps in the vagina. Herpes simplex virus 1 & 2 are responsible for genital herpes infection

Genital herpes appears as one or multiple vesicles, or small blisters, in the vagina area. As an STI, there is a possibility of having recurrent infection episodes.

The initial and subsequent clinical symptoms of genital herpes vary. The first outbreak of genital herpes is typically associated with increased viral shedding.

Apart from the small blisters, here are some possible symptoms of the first outbreak of genital herpes: 

In subsequent infection, the symptoms are typically:

  • localized genital pain
  • tingling sensation or pains in hip or leg pains
  • genital ulcers 

Learn more about sexually transmitted infections.

Vaginal pimples

These are small vaginal bumps due to local irritation or infection in the skin surrounding the vulva. In some females, chemicals like soaps, lotions, or deodorants are common irritants to the vulva. If you notice you have recurrent vaginal pimples, you may have sensitive skin.

Vulva cancer 

Cancerous growths may also present as a bump in the vulva. However, vaginal swelling due to a cancerous growth typically has associated symptoms such as: 

  • skin discoloration around the vulva
  • thickened patches of skin
  • itching, burning, or pain around the vulva
  • chronic sores 
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge

When should you see a doctor for bumps in the vaginal area?

You should see a doctor if you notice unusual changes in a vaginal bump. For example, if you notice that the lump is increasing in number and size coupled with unexplained skin changes and pain. Also, if you suspect that the bump is due to an infection, consult your doctor for treatment.

It is always a good idea to consult your doctor about any changes in your vaginal area.

How do you treat bumps in the vaginal area?  

Generally, most vaginal bumps do not require treatment. However, in some cases, the specific treatment depends on the cause.

Here are common treatment options for vaginal bumps:

  • identifying and discontinuing the use of skin irritants
  • maintaining optimal vaginal hygiene to prevent local infection
  • use of medications such as:
    • antihistamines
    • antimicrobials
    • NSAIDS
  • local surgical excision

Summary

Vaginal bumps frequently occur in females across different age groups. Local infection, irritation, and inflammatory changes are typical causes of vaginal bumps. Most bumps have varying associated symptoms depending on the underlying cause.

Vaginal bumps include vaginal cysts, vaginal pimples, ingrown hair, skin tags, genital herpes, and lichen sclerosus.

Generally, most vaginal bumps do not require immediate treatment. If you notice any unusual changes in the vaginal area, contact your doctor for a diagnosis.

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Medical Reviewer: Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 3
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Al Wahbi, A. M. (2016). Isolated large vulvar varicose veins in a non-pregnant woman. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5051671/
  2. Fruchter, R. et al. (2017). Lichenoid vulvar disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5419035/
  3. Genital herpes. (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm
  4. Lee, W. A., et al. (2022). Bartholin gland cyst. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532271/
  5. Pandey A., et al.(2022). Skin tags. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547724/