How To Treat Acne In Your Most Intimate Places

Puberty may hit us just once, but acne can cling to our skin all the way until menopause. It feels like acne finds every reason to follow us. If puberty acne has to do with genetics, high-GI food, and hormones, adult acne develops mostly out of hormonal fluctuations, medication, and lifestyle. If teenagers experience non-inflammatory whiteheads and blackheads, adults have to deal with inflammatory cystic acne forming deep under the skin. You break out in whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples when your hair follicles become overloaded with oil and dead skin cells. That's why a good skincare routine is a must for adults and teenagers alike.

Since acne is a dermatological process, it can occur anywhere on the body where there is skin. That includes your pubic region. Yup! Vulva acne is real. Pimples around the vagina or bikini line can take the form of papules and pustules. Papules are inflamed raised bumps without white or yellow pus-filled tips, while pustules are pus-filled sores that are white at the tips. Although vaginal acne is no serious condition and cannot take a toll on your body image like face acne, it can make you feel uncomfortable when wearing snug undergarments. If you're breaking out in your most intimate places, here are some suggestions on how to handle it. 

Causes of vaginal acne

According to dermatologist Dr. Marina I. Peredo, folliculitis is one of the most common types of acne that can develop in the body's most private areas. "Folliculitis is inflammation around the hair follicles, typically as a result of shaving. The hair gets trapped under the skin and becomes clogged," Dr. Peredo explains to Byrdie. Folliculitis develops as a result of damaged hair follicles, which makes it simpler for bacteria to enter and spread infection. Shaving, waxing, and plucking at vaginal hair can cause folliculitis. Using unclean bath water and wearing tight clothes that rub against the skin, combined with excessive sweating, can also cause the condition. Damage to the vaginal walls from childbirth or accidents can also cause vaginal cysts to form. 

Hydradenitis suppurativa, a rare skin disorder that affects the vulva and other body parts like the groin, the area around the vagina, and the breasts, is another prevalent form of vaginal acne, according to the Arizona Specialized Gynecology. This condition is characterized by pus-filled painful lumps that may resolve on their own or progress in severity. Counting among the complications of hydradenitis suppurativa are cellulitis, painful movement, hyperpigmentation and scarring, and tracts. Some vaginal pimples are easy to detect, but the painless and slow-growing ones — like Bartholin's cysts — can be hard to pick up. Meanwhile, symptomatic cysts like Müllerian cysts can give you noticeable discomfort and make themselves known through vaginal bleeding or urinary symptoms.

Treatments for vaginal acne

If you detect any mass down below and it gives you pain, you should visit a dermatologist or an obstetrician to find out about it. All vaginal masses look pretty much the same to an untrained eye. While some of them are non-cancerous, others can be symptomatic of vaginal cancer. Therefore, it's best to speak to a professional when you're in doubt. To treat smaller cysts, your healthcare professional might recommend oral antibiotics or topical creams. For larger cysts, drainage, which involves making an incision in the cyst and allowing it to drain, might be the go-to procedure.

For those leaning into home remedies before dermatologist appointments, dermatologist Dr. Kyrin Dunston recommends swapping scented bath products for unscented soaps containing natural antibacterials like oregano oil, which help combat harmful bacteria and keep acne away from your vagina (via Prevention). At the same time, you can apply a small amount of lotion containing at least 2% green tea extract or tea tree oil to the affected area. Green tea contains antimicrobial properties, which aid in soothing inflamed skin and reducing flare-ups. To assuage the pain, obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Catherine Goodstein suggests placing warm compresses on the affected area and giving the cysts time to go away on their own (via Teen Vogue). No matter how tempting it is, never pop a zit near your vulva. Forcing a vaginal pimple to open can trigger further inflammation and spread infection.