Vulvar lumps and bumps – what are they?

Lumps and bumps on our vulva or vagina can be frightening, but there are some that are just normal parts of our flesh, while others may not be so benign. Knowing the difference is useful.

     Pale yellow or white little bumps on the labia minora (inner labia), more obvious when you stretch skin
These are usually Fordyce bumps or spots, which are normal sebaceous glands. Some of these are more prominent than others, but they are completely normal and nothing is wrong. No treatment is required. Read more about Fordyce bumps here.

     Small flesh-coloured filaments protruding from the vaginal opening (introitus)
These could be what’s known as vulval papillomatosis. These are normal and no treatment is needed. Find out more about vulval papillomatosis here. 

     Pale, maybe yellow papules ranging from 2mm – 10mm across, most often seen on labia majora (outer labia)
These could be sebaceous glands. If you have picked them, they may become infected. Don’t pick them, and they will go away.

     Fleshy, soft tissue at the edge of the vulvar vestibule
This is most likely to be hymenal remnants. These are normal and should be left alone. Read more about the hymen and remnants here. 

     Red, flakey papules on the vulva, with itch and a rash on the trunk, with scales between the fingers (in webbing) or the inside of the wrists
Scabies! Go to your doctor and get treatment.

     Wart-like growths in anogenital region, common at posterior fourchette (vaginal entrance at the bottom V), possibly on the urethral opening, perineum or anus, up to several centimetres wide
You have anogenital warts, which is caused by HPV. Learn more about HPV and genital warts here, including how to get rid of them. You need a doctor. Alternatively, these could be a sign of secondary syphilis, which is rare in developed countries. These are then called condylomata lata, and are a bit harder and more fleshy than regular genital warts.

     Smooth papules often with a dent in the middle on anogenital skin, but may include lower abdomen and pubic area, from 2-8mm
You might have molluscum contagiosum, which is the result of a virus. Read more about molluscum contagiosum here.

     Little blisters with fluid inside, small sores, redness and swelling around sores, with possible flu-like symptoms
You sound like you could have genital herpes. You need to be tested immediately by your doctor. Read more about herpes here. 

     One single (usually) flesh-coloured nodule, can be anywhere on the vulva except the vaginal opening (introitus)
This could be a sebaceous cyst, which is best left alone. Once squeezed, the cyst will just fill back up again. These can be surgically removed, and if it becomes infected, antibiotics may be prescribed.

     Rough darker-than-skin-coloured papules, can be found on the entire body except the vaginal opening (introitus), slightly greasy surface
This could be a sebaceous wart (a basal cell papilloma), which does not need any treatment, but can be removed if you hate it. It may be frozen off using liquid nitrogen.

     Red skin with pustules, sometimes swollen groin lymph glands
This could be furunculosis, which is a boil. Boils are treated various ways, but do need attention, so see your doctor.

     Small pimple-like structure with a hair growing underneath it or out of it, typical in pubic region
Could be an infected or inflamed hair follicle (folliculitis). Not serious, but can be uncomfortable. Antibacterials might help. Read more about vulvar folliculitis here.