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Herpes & Cold Sores

Pimples On Your Vagina? Here's What They Can Mean

By Lizzie De La Cruz

How Do I Get Rid of Pimples on My Vagina?

Pimples are pesky little things when they pop up on your face or your back, but when they show up on your vagina or inside your vulva, they can create a whole new level of worry. Could these bumps be an STD, or are they just razor burn or ingrown hairs?
You may be experiencing a round of genital pimples from shaving or a sweaty workout, but it's a good idea to know for sure before having sex again. No matter the diagnosis, pimples on your vagina are not the end of the world. Most people spend a lot of time dreading genital herpes diagnosis, but in reality herpes is a very common and very manageable health concern. In fact, your life can get back to normal once you address your symptoms and seek treatment. But first...

What Are These Pimples in My Vag?

You took a look down there and spotted what seems to be a pimple. But is that really a pimple, or could something else be behind that pimple-like bump in your genital area? Sound familiar?
Before you panic, it's important to know the basics. So, take a deep breath, and let's dive in.
Pimples and genital herpes, often caused by a virus called HSV-2, can come with similar characteristics. Both may appear as a small and painful liquid-filled bump on your skin.
A true pimple or acne breakout comes from a build-up of dirt or oil that clogs your pores, and that's true of vaginal pimples as well. Genital pimples are usually filled with white pus and look red or pink. They may be sore to the touch.
Genital herpes typically looks like red or white bumps or blisters that are full of a thin, clear liquid. The virus also commonly presents as red, painful ulcers.

Could This Pimple Be Herpes?

It's possible that what appears to be pimples are actually an outbreak of genital herpes. This virus can stay dormant in your system for years after you were exposed ⁠— you can get symptoms at any time, even months after acquiring the virus from sexual contact.
If you have a small patch of white or red bumps or ulcers, check in with yourself to see if you are experiencing some other symptoms, including:
  • Achiness
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Leg pain
  • Lymph nodes that are swollen
  • Vaginal discharge 
A combination of genital "pimples" and a few of these symptoms may indicate that you should go to your doctor and get checked for genital herpes.
The lesions you get from genital herpes usually feel softer than a "regular" pimple would. They can sometimes look more like a blister than a pimple. Unfortunately, they're also typically painful. But they're no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Genital herpes is very common and easy to treat. In fact, more than 1 in 6 people in the US has genital herpes. Once they begin treatment, many people find they experience outbreaks very rarely (some only ever experience one outbreak!). The sooner you determine if HSV is the cause of your pimple problem, the sooner you can get back to living your normal life.

Getting Tested for Genital Herpes

Time for another deep breath. If you suspect your pimples are actually herpes, there's no need to freak out. Getting tested will allow you to receive treatment that makes it possible to live a totally normal life.
Sex is human, and you want to make sure you're keeping yourself and your partners healthy if you're having it. Unless it's treated actively, herpes can easily spread between sexual partners. And it's possible for herpes to spread even if you or your partner aren't showing external symptoms.
An open swab test on an active outbreak is the only way to verify genital herpes. Most medical facilities won't test for the virus unless you explicitly request a test, so make sure you speak up when you see your doctor. Your doctor can then use a herpes viral culture lesion test to collect a skin sample during an outbreak (Note: this test must be performed in the presence of a genital outbreak). You may feel some discomfort during the test, but relief is coming. You'll generally get results in just a few days ⁠— and there's no need for any other "herpes test." This test will tell you everything you need to know.
Alternatively, you may be contacted by a past sexual partner informing you that they have genital herpes. If you acquired the virus and experience an outbreak, you can begin taking Prescription Antivirals to control future outbreaks immediately. Depending on the frequency of your outbreaks, i.e. how your body responds to the virus, you will need a "Suppressive" or "Episodic" treatment plan.

Treatment for Genital Herpes

Time for some good news: Genital herpes is actually easy to treat! Even better? If you take your antiviral medication quickly, you'll make your outbreak less severe. You may not even get an outbreak at all.
Prescription antivirals include Acyclovir (Zovirax, Sitavig) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex). Both can treat current outbreaks and prevent future outbreaks, depending on how you take them. You can even use telehealth to speak with a doctor and receive medication in a totally discreet, stress-free way.
After answering a few questions about your symptoms, a wisp doctor will diagnose your condition and prescribe medication which is packaged by a US pharmacy and sent directly to you in discreet packaging (so no one has to know what it is). Alternatively, you can pick it up from a local pharmacy too!

Other Causes of Vaginal Pimples

That pimple could also just be a pimple, and it can be a symptom of other conditions besides genital herpes. Some additional culprits behind pimples in your genital area include:
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Folliculitis (better known as ingrown hair)
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa, or acne inversa
  • Molluscum contagiosum
Contact Dermatitis
Many instances of vaginal pimples come from a reaction to something touching your skin. You can get contact dermatitis if you're sensitive to various everyday things such as:
  • Condoms
  • Douches
  • Feminine wipes, lotions, perfumes, powders or deodorants
  • Laundry detergents or dryer sheets
  • Lube
  • Over-the-counter topical medications
  • Sanitary pads and tampons
  • Sexual arousal stimulants
  • Soaps or bubble baths, particular ones that have fragrances
  • Spermicides
Your skin can also get irritated from:
  • Perspiration
  • Semen
  • Urine
  • Vaginal discharge
Skin irritation from any of these things can make pimples form.
Folliculitis
An infection of the hair follicle from bacteria can also lead to pimples. Simply shaving is one common cause. As your hair grows back out of its follicle, it can curl back toward your skin and cause irritation, or even grow into your skin. That's what you know as ingrown hair. If your skin is sensitive, a dull razor can give you razor burn and cause bumps and blisters. Razors can even cause, yep...pimples.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), also known as acne inversa, is a chronic disease that affects your sweat glands. HS is a rare inflammatory disease that creates lesions like pimples all over the body, including your vulva. 
Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that can also cause pimples anywhere on your body, including your genitals.
No matter what you think is causing your pimples, your best course of action is always consulting with a doctor. Your doctor can order tests that will clarify what's behind your pimples so that you can start any necessary treatments as soon as possible.
Whether you've discovered them on your labia or somewhere else in your genital area, vaginal pimples range from "annoying," to something you may have to make a small lifestyle change to treat. Even if your vaginal pimples turn out to be genital herpes, easy treatment can get you on the road to wellness in no time. Take that final deep breath, and reach out to a doctor if you need to. You'll get back to your normal life once you know what treatment to start.

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