Let’s face it — vaginal health is a taboo topic to talk about, even among women.
While many of us have heard of some of the more extreme cases that can go on down there – endometriosis, vaginismus, yeast infections – there are still plenty of other non-threatening conditions that can worry women.
The following three common conditions may be fairly harmless, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be briefed on what they are.
Boils in the vaginal region are most often caused by the use of a dull razor while shaving. Certain grooming methods can cause ingrown hairs or infected hair follicles and when left untreated, these can lead to the formation of pus-filled blisters.
It is incredibly important to change razors regularly and latter the vaginal region with a soapy, protective layer prior to shaving. “Any tool you use on your body daily needs to be cleaned at least weekly, as the bathroom can be a reservoir for bacteria,” said Sherry Ross, M.D., ob-gyn in an interview with Women’s Health.
Never squeeze or try to pop an area of raised bumps or a boil, as this can further inflame the area and cause the infection to spread. Instead, apply a warm compress to the affected region to relieve discomfort and try to wear loose pants and underwear so that the area can breathe and heal.
If the boils do not heal after two weeks or begin to spread out wider than two or three fingertips, consider visiting an ob-gyn, who can prescribe antibiotics and, if necessary, drain the boil.
Syringoma presents itself when sweat ducts are blocked. These tiny, benign bumps can appear not only in the vaginal region, but also on the face, chest, and underarms.
“These lesions often present as multiple, small, firm, skin colored to yellow to light brown papules,” says Dr. Deepak Ghimire, a practicing dermatologist. “Most of the lesions are asymptomatic, but they may occasionally itch or get infected.”
These bumps are harmless so it is best to resist trying to remove or pop them, as this can cause damage to the surrounding skin. The best options are to let them heal all on their own. If they continue to grow to a size that you are uncomfortable with, you can talk to your doctor about having them removed through electrosurgery or a laser, but this may result in scarring to the affected area.
Bartholinitis (A Bartholin cyst)
This inflammatory condition occurs when the Bartholin’s glands on either side of the vaginal opening become obstructed, causing the fluid that is usually secreted by these glands to slowly accumulate. This accumulation causes a small lump to develop near the vaginal opening that can grow to be anywhere from the size of an almond to an orange.
Bartholinitis can be caused by numerous conditions: a lack of proper vaginal hygiene, wearing underwear made of synthetic fibers, excessive stress or a saturation of toxins in the body.
Though the lump may become tender and painful to the touch, it is completely harmless when treated properly.
“They can be managed with a warm compress, soaking in a tub filled with just a few inches of warm water, or by taking over-the-counter pain medication and giving it time to heal,” said Kameelah Phillips, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City in an interview with Women’s Health.
In cases where the lump becomes infected, woman may experience extreme pain, fever and chills or trouble urinating. Known as a Bartholin abscess, an infected lump can be caused by the presence of Escherichia coli bacteria on the skin or by sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Women with an infected lump can have their gynecologists drain the cyst.