Vulvar lumps and bumps – what are they?

Vulvar or vaginal lumps and bumps can be frightening, but there are some bumpy bits that are just normal parts of our flesh. Others may not be so benign, so 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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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), called vulvar folliculitis. Not serious, but can be uncomfortable. Antibacterials might help.


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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist 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)