What are vaginal boils?

A vaginal boil is a painful, pus-filled bump that develops under the skin in your pubic area. A boil can develop on the labia (lips of the vagina), in the pubic region (where pubic hair grows) or in the vulvar area around your vagina. It’s quite common to have a boil near your vagina. This is because it’s easy for a hair follicle to become infected with bacteria. Here’s more.

Signs of a vaginal boil

Vaginal boils can start out small, and they usually look like a pimple or irritation from shaving. But once a boil grows and becomes painful, as it develops an infection. Symptoms can include:

  • A swollen, red lump deep in the skin
  • The surround area is painful to touch
  • A white or yellow pus-filled centre that may break open
  • Oozing clear fluid or crust development

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • your boil gets large and very painful
  • doesn’t get better within two weeks
  • you get more than one boil
  • your boil doesn’t seem any better after several days of at-home treatment
  • you get recurrent boils (almost every month) near your vagina

What are the causes?

Boils near the vagina are caused by bacteria that enter through the skin and infect a hair follicle. Other causes can include:

  • Being overweight or obese can cause boils to develop between the folds of your skin.
  • Poor hygiene- wash your genital area with soap and water daily and after exercise.
  • Diabetes or other conditions that weaken your immune system.
  • Tight-fitting clothes, especially dirty or sweaty undergarments. Remember to change undergarments daily and immediately after gym/exercise. Never sit in sweaty clothes, as this creates a breeding ground for bacteria to grow.
  • Ingrown hairs caused by shaving, grooming, or waxing your vaginal area.
  • Insect bites, injuries to the skin or acne.

How are vaginal boils treated?

Most vaginal boils can be treated at home, with no medical assistance.

  • Apply a warm, moist compress (like a damp washcloth) to the area 3 to 4 times per day. This helps draw the puss to the surface and encourages the boil to drain. Use a clean washcloth each time.
  • Never squeeze, pop, or cut open the boil yourself. This can lead to more pain and spread the infection.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing to prevent rubbing and irritation to the area.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication for discomfort.
  • Keep the vaginal area clean with soap and water. Wash your hands before and after touching the infected area.
  • Clean the boil and cover it with a loose bandage/plaster after it begins to drain.

Most boils will heal on their own within 3 weeks, but there’s no set time for how long it takes to develop or heal. If you’re concerned, it’s best to see a healthcare provider.

If you have a boil near your vagina, it’s best to avoid having sex during that time. Since a boil is an infection, it could spread to your partner during sexual contact. Friction from sex can also irritate your boil more, and complicate the healing process. The best way to prevent getting a vaginal boil is to practice good vaginal hygiene at all times.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).