Pus filled bumps around the vagina is a fairly common symptom in women. These are called pustular eruptions (puss filled -> pustular).
The Most Common Cause
The most common cause of such pustular eruptions in the area around the vagina is folliculitis. Infection of the hair follicle of the skin is known as folliculitis.
Cause: Folliculitis presents as a pus filled bump (pustular eruption) on the skin. It might be caused by use of razors for removing hairs from the area around the vagina, but most often occurs spontaneously. A very similar condition is furuncles. Furuncles are deeper infections of the hair follicles and these also present with pustular eruptions.
Treatment: In most of the cases, the folliculitis usually is self-limiting even without any treatment. However, sometimes the infection may spread, and the pus filled bump may enlarge to form a painful furuncle (boil). This often ruptures, discharging the pus.
- Folliculitis is generally treated with topical antibiotics and antibacterial wash two or three times a day.
- Furuncles may require oral antibiotics and warm compresses and even incision and drainage if they are big. Overall, the prognosis of folliculitis is quite good, and most are cured without any complications.
- Infection may spread, especially if a person is having suppressed immune system due to any cause (diabetes, AIDS, cancer, medications like steroids, etc.). Spread of infection may result in abscess formation or other infections in various organs once the bacteria reaches bloodstream.
Prevention: Although nothing guarantees total prevention of such lesions, certain steps may help in reducing the risk of acquiring them.
- Maintain proper personal hygiene and use measures to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
- It is often better to seek medical care immediately if you are having such lesions for the first time and you are not sure what they are. A woman needs to be extra careful with these lesions if she has concomitant conditions that may cause suppression of the immune system.
- Medical consultation should not be delayed in this case while waiting for the spontaneous resolution of such conditions.
Other Rare Causes
- Few other conditions that may sometimes atypically present with lesions that may appear like pus filled bumps are genital acne and certain cysts.
- Bacterial super infection of initial lesions of hidradenitis suppurativa (genital acne) in the area around the vagina may results in pus filled bumps around the vagina (although these are more common in groin, inner thigh, buttocks, underarms and breasts). This too is very rare, and may occur only in initial stages of the disease, as during the later course of the disease the presentation is different.
- Rarely a vulvar epidermal inclusion cyst might appear as a bump in the vulva. Most of the time, it causes no other symptom and requires no therapy.
- Infection of the contents of the Bartholin gland duct cyst may result in abscess formation, and it may present as pus filled cystic swelling in the vagina. This too is rare for a patient to observe by herself, as often this condition results in severe vulvar pain and the swelling in not easily visible.
Can It Be Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
A common worry among the women having such pustular lesions around the vagina for the first time is that if this is a sexually transmitted disease (especially herpes).
Although vesicular (clear fluid-filled bumps) eruptions do occur in the initial stages of herpes, and they may sometimes be pustular (look like pus-filled bumps around the vagina), these pustular lesions are unlikely to be due to herpes. Absence of severe pain and any other symptoms nearly rules out herpes infection as a possible cause of such pus-filled bumps around the vagina.
Chances of it being any other sexually transmitted disease are also extremely low. The lesions of many STDs may initially be variable to start with before they grow into painful/painless ulcers. These initial lesions might rarely be a raised pus-filled bump. These initial lesions in STDs usually last for a day or two and then ulcerate to form the classic ulcerative lesions of the sexually transmitted diseases. Only Chancroid consistently presents with pus filled bump initially, but for a maximum of two days only, after which the typical ulcers are formed.
Lesions of molluscum contagiosum, another sexually transmitted disease, may appear as a bump in the area around the vagina. However, often it is clear by its appearance that it is not pus filled.
Lymphogranuloma Venereum in the initial stage might only present with 'bump' lesions around the vagina, but these are filled with clear fluid rather than pus. Sometimes it may not be clearly evident that whether such lesions are pus filled or fluid filled. Other than these conditions, typical presentation of no other sexually transmitted disease will result in pus-filled bump around the vagina.