Aunt Vadge: mysterious red, raised lesion between my labia

Red raised lesion between labia

Red raised lesion between labiaHi Aunt Vadge,

I have a vaginal lesion in the crease between my inner and outer labia. I went to the doctor, and I have bacterial vaginosis. They tested me for STDs and did a swab on the lesion, and it is not herpes, and it all came back negative.

The doctor told me to put an over-the-counter ointment on it until it heals. It felt healed, but since then I’ve had intercourse with my partner, and it has returned. 

  • I got the lesion about 3 weeks ago 
  • It doesn’t hurt or weep, but it itches 
  • It’s skin-colored unless irritated, then it’s reddish 
  • It’s about an inch-and-a-quarter long
  • The only thing that changed is it looked healed until I had intercourse on two consecutive days 
  • It doesn’t feel much different than the other skin around it, just slightly raised 
  • The doctor didn’t say much other than to put the ointment on and if it doesn’t help to come back in, but I don’t have insurance, so trying to figure out if I need to. The doctor told me to put bacitracin zinc [antibiotic cream] and I thought it was healed until it was irritated again today 
  • I’m allergic to cats and some dogs, and I’m dairy sensitive and very sensitive to scented soaps and things like that – I will get razor burn and feel like I have  a UTI.
  • I have no other diseases or conditions. 
  • I recently moved to a new state three months ago so maybe some stress there. It was a good move, as I was ready for a change. I did get out of a 6-year relationship in January. But it was a good change.
  • They  gave me an oral antibiotic for the BV, and it seemed like it was going away at first. But I do have problems with it reoccurring. Even when I’m taking probiotics with it.
  • I am not using condoms with my partner, but no semen is coming into contact, as he doesn’t ejaculate inside me.
  • I’m not using any other ointments on the lesion but I have used coconut oil on it.
  • I have been having some digestive issues. I think I’m very sensitive to dairy.  And I have been having headaches, but I moved from a elevation of 3500ft to 9180ft. 
  • I’m not aware of any autoimmune conditions  in my family but I do know my mom and sister are allergic to sulfur products. 

Age 28, Colorado, USA

Dear Sensitive,

There are a couple of options that may explain your lesion:

Check out the lichenoid and dermatoses page and have a look online at Google Images to see what these all look like, and see if any of them match your lesion and other symptoms like itching, which is a classic for any of the above lichenoid or psoriatic conditions.

Lesions can also be caused by certain types of precancerous or cancerous changes. You need to know if this is what you have.

You seem to be sensitive to several things, indicating a somewhat overactive immune system (for what reason, we can’t tell from here). This means you are susceptible to inflammatory, overactive-type health conditions, which may appear and disappear.

For this reason, it would be a good idea to record all of your symptoms, keep a photo diary so you can see if the lesion changes, and find a very good gynaecologist (or dermatologist who has experience with the vulva – call ahead and ask). Because you will be paying for this out of pocket, do your homework and see if you can find out what the problem is likely to be yourself, so you are armed with knowledge.

What to do in the meantime

Treating the BV

If you haven’t already, we recommend getting yourself a copy of our excellent book, Killing BV ($6.95). You need to understand the cause of your BV, and why it is recurrent – the biofilm never goes away, and therefore the problem never resolves.

We have developed an experimental treatment plan, and while the information is available free on our website (this is not a sales pitch!), the book is a very succinct easy-reading guide to BV and how to get rid of the biofilm. Probiotics will not work, and additionally, your good bacteria has suffered a blow from the antibiotics.

Getting examined

To be clear, we have no idea what your lesion is, only some clues as to what it could be. This means to find the true cause, you would benefit from being examined by a physician who specialised in vaginas, which doesn’t seem to necessarily be the doctor you have seen.

A free sexual health clinic in your area may also be of great help – get a copy of your test results from your doctor, and take them there. They may have seen something like this before, and be able to help with a diagnosis for less cost than a specialist. You don’t want to waste time with doctors who don’t normally look at vaginas, because they misdiagnose, don’t know what they’re looking at, and can take a long time to diagnose and treat you.

I realise you are in the mountains which makes this more difficult, but ask around town and see if there could be a better practitioner for your needs.

Treating your immune system to help treat the lesion (and whatever caused it)

There are several things that can help to calm your immune system down in the meantime, which also includes calming down your gut – if you are experiencing digestive problems, this can in turn affect your immune system in a negative way, since most of our immunity actually comes from our digestive system. (There are lots of reasons for this.)

Vitamin D and high-dose fish oils both exert an anti-inflammatory, immune-dousing effect, and can help to diffuse inflammatory immune responses. While we don’t know for sure that this is what’s happening to you, vitamin D and fish oils won’t hurt you, and may help.

Vitamin D – 5,000IU per day
Fish Oil – high-quality fish oil (cheap and nasty is nasty) – aim for 500mg of EPA per day (check the label – 1,000mg of fish oil may only contain 100mg of EPA) (a good brand that is widely available is Nordic, and they have varieties of high-dose fish oil that doesn’t taste like fish at all, amazingly, but is very high quality)
Note: Take both with a small fatty meal, for example nuts or avocado, as fat-soluble vitamins and compounds are more easily absorbed with other fats present.

Eat well.This means avoiding known irritants (dairy), possibly excluding wheat for a short period to see if it makes a difference (two weeks). You may need to find out what you are reacting to, and why you are experiencing digestive problems – often it’s something we are eating different to what we would normally eat, so exclude known problem foods (too spicy, milky, wheaty, sugary) to see if you can improve the situation.

Eat clean and anti-inflammatory. Stick to chicken, fish, and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, tofu, tempeh), wholegrains (brown or black rice), nothing deep fried, ditch sugar and sugary drinks, no takeaways, no preservatives, colours, or additives. Be militant with what you put into your body for two weeks, and see what happens to your lesion and your gut.

Make sure you are getting enough fluids – herbal teas, heavily-diluted juices, plain water, lemon water, whatever you like. Avoid booze, drugs, and anything known to be poisonous or carcinogenic. (They are inflammatory.)

How the anti-inflammatory things works is thus: when you put something into your body, it has three possible routes in terms of inflammation. It is either inflammatory, or anti-inflammatory. It can also be neutral.

This means the input (food, drink, smoking) is triggering off your prostaglandin pathways, so it either actively activates your inflammatory molecules, or it actively activates your anti-inflammatory molecules. It is not a passive process. Everything you put into your body does one or the other for the most part.


Steak – inflammatory
Jim Beam and Coke – inflammatory
Steamed vegetables – anti-inflammatory
Fresh lightly-fried salmon filet – anti-inflammatory (but only due to the high omega-3 content – all animal products are by their very nature inflammatory, including fish, but red meat is far more inflammatory than chicken or fish)
Water – neutral

You get the drift. You want to activate your anti-inflammatory molecules so they go around your body and find the inflammatory molecules, and deactivate them. That is how this works. Having a soothed system reduces the activity of your immune system, which also needs to be dampened down if it is overactive, using specific immune-dampening molecules. You want to be less reactive. This is also an active process that must be participated in by you.


While the move was three months ago, having health problems like BV and a mysterious lesion are intrinsically stressful, so be good to yourself on purpose with the express goal to reduce your stress response. This stress response may be still there from adapting to a new place, a new job or school, and being in a new relationship. This means reducing cortisol levels in your blood, which will help to reset your body to a more anti-inflammatory, immune-balanced place.

It cannot be overstated that the impacts of stress (including hidden stress) are far-reaching, and can really screw everything up in ways you wouldn’t imagine. For example, being highly stressed (having high cortisol) is one trigger for your thyroid not working properly (cortisol blocks thyroid function), so you can end up with an under- or over-active thyroid ‘for no reason’. Stress f**ks your s**t up, so understand it, and deal with it properly before it deals with you.

We can’t always solve everything, but you can change how your body and brain responds to stress. Stress – cortisol and adrenalin – is inflammatory and reduces the effectiveness of the immune system since it weakens you by draining your resources and blocking function.

Meditate. Be mindful. Be organised. Deliberately do things that make you feel good – laugh with your friends, eat nice food, have good sex, and do something physical that you enjoy and that is relaxing for you. Interrupt anxiety before it can strangle you.

These things might seem like the most regular sort of advice anyone could get, but these additions are clinically shown to reduce your stress response and inflammation. This helps regulate the immune system, and cut a mysterious reaction in its tracks.

These things are great to do anyway, however if you do have a medical condition like the dermatoses listed at the top of the page, you want to know about it so you can get what you need to treat it, and prevent damage, since some of them can actually result in labial fusion, which you absolutely do not want. Early treatment means better outcomes. A labial lesion is not normal, so yes, you do need to go back to the doctor.

If you need any more help or have any further questions, please get in touch anytime.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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