Aunt Vadge: lumps on labia – do I have hidradenitis?

Dear Aunt Vadge,

I am very worried. I have come to you twice before and you have been so helpful. But I don’t know if you remember last time I asked you something – it was about that problem on my vagina’s lip, an ingrown hair, and that it was purple and looked like a pimple.

You sent me steps of how to get rid of it, but I couldn’t find a hair in it anywhere, and I have had ingrown hairs now, but this wasn’t like it.

It kept bleeding before, and it would close, but then I went to the doctor when I was sick and he looked at it but said it was a type of bite…

It didn’t seem right, maybe cos he was a male, but this was in like May or June, and when he looked at it, it had formed a scar-type bruise (well, it was starting to) so he gave me an antibiotic.

It then turned into like a scar, but feels like a stretch mark and is the colour of a bruise. It isn’t sore and is completely flat like a scar. It has been like this ever since. But I just want it to go away as I have a boyfriend and I don’t want him seeing this. And whenever I shave, I still get razor burn, but if I try to pop them, they have a yellow pus and they bleed and are so small.

But I have another problem I am worried about. I have recently been getting bumps or lumps near my vagina on the lips, and I did some research and they have the same symptoms as an abscess. It is very sore and it’s on the left side in the groin / lip area and there are two and they are quite big. My mom isn’t the best person to talk to about this.

Please help, as I’m scared I have hidradenitis. I can’t have an STD as I haven’t come Into contact with anyone infected, and I have a boyfriend but we have only been dating a few weeks and haven’t gone into any contact down there at all, as he is very Christian.

I haven’t got it from someone else, as my previous boyfriend fingered me, but I knew he did not have an STD. So I’m really freaked out and I don’t know what to do.

Is this urgent? Please help!

A very worried girl
Age 15, Cape Town, South Africa

Dear Very Worried Girl,

Thank you for reaching out again. I remember your previous concerns, and I’m truly sorry to hear that you’re still experiencing difficulties. It’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed, but remember, you’re not alone, and I’m here to help guide you.

What you’ve described sounds quite serious and potentially complicated. Your symptoms — from the long-standing scar to the new lumps and bumps near your vaginal area — all warrant immediate medical attention.

If you felt that the first doctor didn’t adequately address your concerns, it’s crucial to seek a second opinion. Given your age and symptoms, you might also feel more comfortable with a female gynaecologist who specialises in young women’s health.

Regarding the new lumps you mentioned, you seem to have done some research pointing towards hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). While this could be a possibility, only a qualified medical practitioner can give you a diagnosis. As for the scar that’s troubling you, scars can often be treated or minimised, so don’t lose hope just yet.

On the shaving front, you might consider giving your skin a break. Shaving can irritate already sensitive areas and introduce new bacteria. If your boyfriend cares about you, a little body hair won’t change that. Focus on getting better first.

Diet and lifestyle choices can impact your health in ways you may not immediately recognise. You’re 15 and may not have much say in what food is served at home, but making subtle choices toward a balanced diet can only help you. Remember, a healthy body often has a better capacity to fight off infections or manage symptoms.

As for your fears about STIs, it’s good that you’re aware, but as you’ve pointed out, the risk seems minimal based on your history. However, some conditions are not sexually transmitted but can mimic similar symptoms. Again, a healthcare professional can provide the clarity you need.

Your concerns are legitimate, and it’s crucial that you address them promptly. I understand that your mum might not be the person you can discuss this with, but do you have another trusted adult you could confide in? Even just for support in seeking medical advice?

You’re in a challenging period of life when your body is going through lots of changes, but these issues are manageable with the right help. You deserve a life free from this stress and pain.

Feel free to write back anytime, dear. You’re not alone in this journey.

Warmest regards,

Aunt Vadge