In today’s age, the stigma around talking about feminine care and hygiene is rapidly fading away and paving the path for feminine hygiene to be openly discussed. Feminine hygiene is no longer taboo and is considered a crucial part of overall women’s health. At its core, feminine hygiene is for feeling and smelling fresh down there. Feminine hygiene isn’t only about keeping odours at bay and you feel comfortable in your own skin, it’s crucial to preventing infections as well. Your vagina’s pH balance changes during your period so the risk of bacterial infection is higher, so keeping clean is actually important to your vaginal health. Learn all about taking care of your vaginal health here.

All You Need To Know About Vacinal Acne

Acne isn’t just something that affects your face or back. It can also show up on your private parts. Acne in the groin area is really more of a form of folliculitis, which is an inflammation around the hair follicles, these can be pustules (pus bumps), red, inflamed papilla, and even occasionally cysts. It’s important to note the difference between pimples on vulva, ingrown pubic hairs, and infection. Vaginal pimples occur when pores get clogged with debris and bacteria on the outer vaginal layer.

Causes Of Vaginal Pimples

Pimples occur when pores get clogged. Your hormones can also play a role in below-the-belt bumps just like they can when it comes to breakouts on your face. Some women may experience bumps on the vaginal area with hormonal changes, which are more similar to traditional acne. It can also be caused by external factors. Poor hygiene (even hanging around in sweaty clothes after working out) can increase your risk of vaginal pimples. So can irritation from lubricant or other body fluids. Waxing and shaving can also trigger pimple-like bumps as the sensitive skin in this area is more easily irritated and inflamed after hair removal, learn 5 home hacks for vaginal hair removal here.

The cause of a bump on vagina isn’t always obvious, but there are a few reasons you may have pimples around your genitals. Some of them are:

1. Contact Dermatitis

Vaginal pimples are likely caused by contact dermatitis. This is a reaction to something that touches the skin. Any irritation of the skin can result in the formation of pimples. Contact dermatitis of the genitals may be caused by sensitivity to:

  • Bubble baths and soaps, especially if they contain fragrances
  • Feminine wipes, deodorants, lotions, powders, or perfumes
  • Tampons or sanitary pads, learn how to choose the right sanitary pad here
  • Spermicides, condoms, lubricants, or sexual arousal stimulants
  • Over-the-counter topical medications
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • Perspiration
  • Vaginal discharge- here is everything you need to know about vaginal discharge
  • Semen
  • Douches
  • Urine

2. Folliculitis

Bumps on the vagina may be a result of infection of the hair follicle due to bacteria. Shaving your pubic hair is one potential cause of folliculitis. As your hair starts growing out of the follicle, it curls back toward the skin, causing irritation. In some cases, the hair grows back into the skin (ingrown hair). The roughness of a razor on sensitive skin can also cause razor burn, bumps, blisters or pimples.

3. Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), also called acne inversa, is a chronic disease of the sweat glands. It causes pimple-like lesions around the body, including the vulvar area. The cause of this rare inflammatory disease isn’t clear. 

4. Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that can cause pimples anywhere on the body, including a pimple on the vaginal lip. Treatment isn’t always needed, but it can be treated with topical or oral medication. If necessary, your doctor can also remove the pimples.

Signs Of Vaginal Acne

A pimple on the vaginal lip is similar in appearance to pimples that occur in other areas of the body. They can have different characteristics.

  • They may be painful or painless
  • Burning
  • Flesh-coloured or red
  • Pus-filled, in clusters or alone
  • Itchiness
  • Various sizes.

Treatment For Vaginal Pimples

Most cases of pimples on a vaginal area will clear up on their own or with self-administered treatment. Making lifestyle changes and alterations to personal hygiene routines may prevent future outbreaks. Not all bumps on the vaginal area are pimples, there can be some other underlying reasons. If unsure, consult a doctor immediately who can advise on prognosis and available treatments. Early diagnosis and treatment are advised for vaginal acne to keep symptoms under control. Vaginal pimples can often clear up on their own. If not, treatment options include:

1. Determining The Cause

If the cause of the irritation is determined to be a product then it should be removed from use and changed. The first step to deciding the correct treatment is to uncover the cause of the bump on the vagina. Keep a note of the occurrence of vaginal pimples and any products, activities, or other factors which may affect the genital area, including shaving and hot tub usage. It can also be helpful to avoid all products that are in contact with the genital area, including laundry detergents, for a period of time. Once symptoms subside, slowly reintroduce these products, one at a time, and note any adverse reactions experienced.

2. Remove Irritants

Once the cause of the irritation or infection has been identified, stop using the product or engaging in the activity. For example, if this is shaving, reduce irritation by using a new blade and shaving in the direction of the hair growth. Never dry shave. It is important to keep hot tubs clean, and only use properly treated pools and take a shower afterwards. Also, avoid using oils on the skin as these can trap bacteria in the follicles. You can try benzoyl peroxide wash for vaginal acne treatment because is a highly effective antibacterial wash that can be used daily on the bikini area.

3. Address The Hormonal Imbalance

The skin on your private parts can get acne for exactly the same reasons that facial skin can: hormone imbalance coupled with bacterial overgrowth. This type is referred to as pimples on the vulva, which will generally contain more fluid or sebum. Making sure your female and male hormones are balanced is key. An excess of testosterone or estrogen will predispose you to vaginal acne outbreaks. The good news is that you can reset hormones at home. Include more hormone-balancing foods like flaxseeds, cruciferous veggies, good fats, and organic non-GMO whole soy in your diet.

4. Heat Therapy

To address itching and pain, try treating the area with a warm compress. Simply soak a small towel in warm water and squeeze it out before placing it on the skin. This treatment can be repeated several times daily. Always dry the area thoroughly before dressing to inhibit bacterial growth. This is a great vaginal acne treatment that you can easily do at home. Learn here causes, symptoms and remedies for itchy vagina.

5. Medication

Speak with a doctor about treatment for vaginal pimples through medication. If contact dermatitis is the root cause, topical medications or antihistamines may be recommended. Infections can be treated with topical or oral antibiotics. While Molluscum contagiosum often clears up without treatment, medication may be prescribed for persistent cases. Over-the-counter acne preparations are useful, but you need to keep them to only the hair-bearing areas of the vagina as opposed to the vagina, labia and clitoris where they could cause irritation.

How To Prevent Vaginal Acne

1. Maintain Good Hygiene

  • The warmth and moisture in the genital area make it an ideal location for bacteria and other microorganisms to thrive. Wash the area daily with warm water and mild, unperfumed soap. Avoid using harsh cleaning products inside the vagina, as these can affect the pH balance, which can lead to infection
  • Choose cotton underwear and avoid fabrics that trap heat and moisture. Opt for loose, comfortable clothing that allows the skin to breathe, and always change clothing after working out
  • Regularly change tampons or sanitary towels during menstruation. Menstrual cups are a convenient and hygienic alternative to tampons

2. Avoid Popping Vaginal Pimples

Popping pimples on the vaginal area can cause further pain and irritation. The risk of spreading bacteria and causing infection increases, and the pimples on the vaginal area may grow in number and severity. Wait for a pimple to rupture naturally or seek medical treatment.

3. Let Your Pubic Hair Grow Out

Although you may cringe at the idea of letting your pubic hair grow out,  think of all the shaving or waxing-induced bumps that often result. Ingrown hairs can cause folliculitis, which is a common skin infection that develops in the hair follicles, often brought on by habits like shaving and plucking. Resist the urge to squeeze or pop bumps too; doing so can lead to an infection. Whenever you shave, make sure to change your razor blade every two to three shaves so that it is sharp, and store it blade side up in the shower so as not to get it contaminated with bacteria.

4. Avoid Tight Undergarments

Tight undergarments will work against you if you’re trying to treat a pimple on your vaginal lip. You should steer clear of them. Wearing loose-fitting undergarments and no panties at night helps the area to breathe, which problematic bacteria don’t like. Unfortunately, this may also mean bidding adieu to your favourite yoga pants. 

5. Practice Consistent Cleansing

Your shower habits have a lot to do with treating acne in your private parts. When you use hygiene products like body wash in your private parts, your vaginal balance can be disrupted, eventually causing irritation and vaginal acne. Using antibacterial soaps either commercially prepared or containing natural antibacterial like oregano or tea tree oil assists in removing potentially harmful bacteria.

Vaginal Discharge

Glands inside a woman’s vagina and cervix produce a fluid that comes out of her regularly. It carries out the cells that have lined the vagina previously. This fluid helps keep the vagina clean. Furthermore, it prevents infections and lubricates it. It is clear and watery in texture, may smell slightly but doesn’t have a foul odour and the rate of discharge, its odour, colour and texture change with stages of menstrual cycles. Click here to know more about vaginal discharge, infection risks and preventive methods.

Causes Of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

Normal vaginal discharge is healthy. It’s our bodies’ way of cleaning and lubricating our vaginas. However, anything out of normal is due to the disturbance of a healthy balance of microorganisms in the vagina and uterus. The reasons behind these changes might be as follows –

  • Change in the odour of vaginal discharge, especially to an unpleasant one
  • Colour of the discharge changes from clear to greenish, greyish, or like pus
  • Frothy or cottage cheese texture of discharge
  • Itching, burning, swelling, or redness of private parts
  • Bleeding and spotting that isn’t menstrual

These symptoms might show due to the following reasons –

  • Douching and feminine hygiene sprays
  • Certain soaps and bubble baths
  • Antibiotics, steroids, or birth control pills
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Infections
  • Vaginal atrophy; thinning and drying out of vaginal walls during menopause
  • Vaginitis; inflammation of the vagina

Vaginal Dryness

Painful sex, itching and burning are some symptoms of vaginal dryness. Also known as vaginal atrophy, this refers to the medical terminology used to refer to the thinning of the inner wall of the vagina which occurs usually during menopause. The walls of the vagina are usually plump, full of moisture and quite rich in colour. A change in discharge, absence of fluid is vaginal dryness.

How To Diagnose Vaginal Dryness?

If you feel any changes in your vaginal health or any of the following symptoms. Consult a doctor.

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Dryness
  • Intercourse pain
  • Vaginal dryness during sex
  • Irritation

If so, then the doctor would most likely carry out a pelvic examination and study your health history to get a better perspective of the causes of the vaginal dryness in your body. A pelvic examination helps the doctor check for the vaginal changes and rule out other possibilities of discomfort and uneasiness like some intimate infection. Click here to know about 5 home remedies and medical options if you have vaginal dryness.

5 Types Of Vaginal Odour 

Vaginas do have a distinct, not necessarily pleasant scent but that’s normal — as normal as the smell of your sweat. However, if there’s a foul stench, it may indicate an underlying problem. The odour can vary during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause or any other hormonal changes. There isn’t exactly any specific smell that is normal because it varies from woman to woman and there are so many different types of vaginal odour. Click here to find 5 simple ways to get rid of unpleasant vaginal odour and guidelines to consult a doctor. 

1. Tangy Or Fermented

This is a very common odour. It is often compared to the smell of fermented food. Yoghurt, sourdough bread and even some sour beer contain the same good bacteria that dominate most healthy vaginas, which is Lactobacilli. This type of odour is normal.

Cause: The pH of a healthy vagina is between 3.8 and 4.5 i.e. slightly acidic. The Lactobacilli keeps it acidic and that helps prevent overgrowth of all types of bad bacteria. 

2. Like A Penny (Coppery)

Sometimes people also report vaginal odour smelling coppery or metallic. It’s usually normal and nothing to worry about. 

Blood contains iron and it has a metallic smell. The most common reason for blood is your periods. During your period, blood and tissue are shed from the inner uterine lining and travel through the vagina. Light bleeding after sex can be due to vaginal dryness or vigorous sex and this may also result in a metallic scent. This type of smell can also be due to some serious vaginal bleeding. This scent shouldn’t linger too long after your period. It’s best to see a doctor if you’re experiencing bleeding unrelated to your period and the scent lingers followed by itching and discharge

3. Sweet Like Molasses

It’s a different type of sweet; more like an earthy, pungent and robust scent. A bittersweet or sweetish scent isn’t a cause of concern. 

Cause: The vaginal pH is an ever-changing bacterial ecosystem and that sometimes means a little sweet smell.

4. Chemical Smell

An odour similar to bleach or ammonia could be a reason to visit the doctor sometimes, although it could also be totally normal.

Cause: 

Urine: The urea in the urine causes a smell like ammonia. A buildup of urine in your vaginal area or underwear could cause a smell like that of ammonia. However, urine smelling strongly of ammonia could be a sign of dehydration

Bacterial Vaginosis: The chemical smell could be because of this. It’s a very common infection

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis:

  • Foul/Fishy odour
  • Thin grey, white or green discharge 
  • Itching
  • Burning sensation during urination

These symptoms are a few causes of a smelly vagina. 

5. Like Body Odour Or Smoked Herbal Earthly Scent

There are sweat glands present down there which often is the reason why the scent is so similar to body odour. 

Cause: There are two types of sweat glands, apocrine and eccrine. The eccrine gland produces sweat to cool down the body and the apocrine glands respond to your emotions. The apocrine glands are present mostly in the armpits and the groin. The emotional stress of any kind can cause this type of smell.

Basic hygiene and self-care are typically enough to keep your vagina healthy on a day-to-day basis. While you might feel embarrassed to talk about vaginal health because of society’s constructs, ignoring potential issues won’t make them go away. Taking a minute to speak to your doctor about any concerns can make all the difference.

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