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Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017
Many women who are worried about possible STD
exposure become hyper-aware of any never-before noticed lumps or
bumps in the genital area. It's often the case that women who have never closely
inspected their vagina become alarmed by the discovery of normal
skin markings or bumps on the genitals that have always been there, such as hair follicles or
New or not usually present bumps in the genital area can also be due to non-STD causes, such as
irritation from shaving,
rubbing on clothing, an
infected hair follicle, or an
allergic reaction to a new shampoo, soap, or lubricant.
Sometimes these skin findings can be easily confused with vaginal bumps caused by a sexually
Vaginal bumps can be a sign of genital herpes
The most common STD that produces
bumps on the vagina or skin in the genital area is
herpes simplex virus type 2.
Herpes outbreaks are characterized by a
cluster or close grouping of small, round blister-like spots that occur
in the genital region (any skin that would typically be covered
by shorts). These outbreaks are usually painful. Typically, the spots
appear to be filled with a clear fluid, and break open in a few days.
After opening, the spots appear reddish and can have a crusty appearance.
They will continue to go away over the course of several days to weeks,
until they are gone. Sometimes the painless, red ulcer caused by syphilis
can be mistaken for a bump or sore caused by herpes.
HPV can cause bumps on the vagina
Another STD that can produce small bumps on the vagina
or surrounding area is
human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that
causes genital warts. Typically,
warts are found in small clusters, are the same color as the surrounding
skin, and grow in patches. They are typically not painful.
Unlike herpes bumps which come and go, genital warts are persistent.
Getting tested for STDs can help
determine the cause of bumps
Many times it's difficult to tell whether a spot or group of bumps is caused by
an STD, or is due to some other cause. If you are sexually active and have never
been tested, or have had a new partner since the last time you tested, it's
important to get tested. It's
the only way to know what could be causing a symptom like vaginal bumps.