What It Might Mean If You Have Bumps On Your Labia

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What it means if you have bumps on your labia?

Bumps anywhere on our body can give us pause and make us worry. Is it some sort of mass? We hope it's not that, but there are cysts, warts, and tumors that do manifest as bumps. However, it can also be a pimple, a break out, or an irritation.

All are kind of scary in their own right, but some to way more extreme degrees than others. Bumps on your labia can mean a lot of things, some of which are very common; others, however, are not, reminding us to be aware of our vaginal health.

"They can range from non-threatening to more complicated or painful if potentially caused by an STI or other bodily function," warns Lindsay Wynn, founder of the organic vaginal wellness brand, Momotaro Apotheca. "Some common conditions like herpes or genital warts are sexually transmitted and should always be assessed by a medical professional. Always air on the side of caution, as self-diagnosing is not a valid form of assessment."

Wynn also advises that other bumps appearing on the labia or around the vulva could be ingrown hairs, razor burn, or pimples. These conditions tend to be less painful, but do your best to avoid more irritation by itching, scratching or popping.

RELATED: 5 Things That Cause Bumps On Your Vagina (And When To Take Them Seriously)

Rather than scour the internet for images that match our bumps, the best idea is to chat with your doctor and see what they think.

1. Acne

This is just like what happens on other parts of the body.

“Pores get clogged and a 'pimple' can form. These are common on the labia majora because it is an area that we often cover with clothing, so the skin oils can accumulate,” advises Dr. Joseph B. Davis DO, FACOG. He also says that lotions, laundry detergents, and even maxi pads can increase the occurrence.

2. Ingrown hairs

This is very common after shaving or waxing and causes something called folliculitis, a painful inflammation of a hair follicle. Says Dr. Davis, “New hair will grow from under the skin and may get blocked. This is usually a dark red bump and can be painful, but usually not.”

But for people who do experience pain, there are treatments. According to Mark P. Trolice, M.D., board-certified OB/GYN, “Treatment typically resolves naturally with proper cleaning, loose clothing, warm compresses, and avoiding shaving until the condition resolves.” If this worsens, however, an antibiotic will be necessary.

These bumps can be a symptom of common skin conditions like psoriasis or lichen sclerosis, which are typically treated with steroid cream by your OB/GYN. Lichen sclerosis has a 4 to 5 percent risk of squamous cell cancer, which is determined by biopsy.

3. Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, resulting in painful spots, and can come and go. “This is due to a viral infection and outbreaks can be controlled with medication, but there are other flare-ups in times of stress and hormone changes,” Dr. Davis warns.

4. Cysts

“Little cysts can form on the skin, called sebaceous cysts and epidermal inclusion cysts,” says Dr. Felice Gersh, an OB/GYN. These are of no significance other than cosmetic and rarely become infected.

RELATED: What It Means If You Have Lumps Or Bumps Around Your Vagina

5. Genital warts

Genital warts can develop and should be treated by a physician immediately. “Any disease of the skin can develop on the vulvar skin, including cancers, psoriasis, eczema, moles, and benign tumors. Anything of concern needs to be evaluated by a physician,” Dr. Gersh warns.

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6. Fordyce bumps 

One common skin condition that may not be as commonly known or talked about are Fordyce bumps. These are small, raised bumps that apear on the labia or next to the lips. They are not infectious nor are they a result of an STD; in fact, they are harmless.

"These are little white spots that appear during puberty and often increase with age," says Wynn.

7. HPV

According to the American Sexual Health Association, "Approximately 14 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV occur in the U.S. each year, with at least 79 million people estimated to be currently infected. Most people with HPV, though, do not know that they are infected."

High-risk strains can cause cancer, so it's incredibly imperative to get tested by your doctor.

8. Cancer

“The worst diagnosis for bumps on the labia is cancer in the form of squamous cell (HPV-related) or melanoma, with the prognosis based on how advanced the cancer is at the time of diagnosis,” says Dr. Trolice.

RELATED: 5 Reasons To LOVE Your Labia — No Matter What They Look Like

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at alywalansky@gmail.com.