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What Causes Vaginal Boils and How Are They Treated?

Why do they develop?

Vaginal boils are pus-filled, inflamed bumps that form under the skin of your vagina. These bumps can develop on the outside of the vagina, in the pubic area, or they can develop on the labia.

Vaginal boils develop when a hair follicle becomes impacted and an infection develops in the follicle. The boil may start as a small, red bump and develop over the course of a few days into a swollen, painful spot with a white or yellow pus-filled tip.

Some boils may look similar to pimples, and a correct diagnosis is key to treatment. If you have a spot on your vagina and aren’t sure if it’s a boil or the result of something else, make an appointment to see your doctor or gynecologist.

Boils are rarely cause for concern. Most will clear up on their own in a week or two. A few may need medical treatment. Treatment can help ease the pain and reduce the infection until the boil is gone. In severe cases, your doctor may lance, or cut, a boil to drain the infection.

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Home treatment

How to treat vaginal boils at home

Most boils will go away on their own in a matter of a few days or weeks. You can help ease the symptoms and speed up the process with these home remedies.

Before you touch the boil or the area surrounding it, be sure to wash your hands well. Use an antibacterial soap and warm water. Without this step, you risk introducing more bacteria to the boil. This could make the infection worse.

Likewise, wash your hands again after you’ve completed your treatment. You don’t want to risk spreading any bacteria to other areas of your body.

1. Don’t pop or prick

Resist the temptation to pop or prick the boil. Doing so releases the bacteria and can spread the infection. You may also make the pain and tenderness worse.

2. Apply a warm compress

Soak a washcloth with water that’s slightly warmer than what you use to wash your hands or face. Squeeze out the excess water. Place the compress over the boil, and leave it there for 7 to 10 minutes.

Repeat this process three or four times a day until the boil is gone. The heat from the compress helps promote more blood circulation, so white blood cells can fight off the remaining infection.

3. Wear loose bottoms while it’s healing

One of the most common causes of a boil is tight clothing that causes friction or rubbing on the delicate pubic skin. Until the boil disappears, wear loose underwear and clothing. After workouts, change into clean, dry underwear.

4. Use an ointment

A petroleum jelly ointment can help protect the boil against friction from clothing and underwear. Likewise, if the boil bursts, use an antibiotic ointment like combined bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B (Neosporin) to protect against another infection while the spot heals.

5. Take over-the-counter painkillers

Over-the-counter pain medication may be necessary to ease the pain and inflammation the boil causes. Take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) according to package directions.

If these home remedies don’t help or the boil isn’t gone within two weeks, make an appointment with your gynecologist or doctor. You may need medical treatment from a doctor.

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Outlook

How long it takes to heal

A boil typically clears up on its own in a week or two. Some boils will shrink and disappear. Others may burst and drain first.

If the boil bursts, clean the area thoroughly, and apply a sterile gauze or adhesive bandage. Keep the area clean, and change the dressing daily. Wash your hands before and after you change the bandages too.

Having one boil doesn’t make you more likely to have another. However, some of the risk factors that lead to one boil can easily lead to another. These include:

  • friction or rubbing from tight clothes
  • ingrown hairs from shaving
  • staph infection

If more boils develop, make an appointment with your doctor. An underlying factor may be contributing to the boils. Treating the root cause can help prevent future bumps.

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See your doctor

When to see your doctor

Some symptoms indicate the boil may need additional treatment from a doctor. These include:

  • fever
  • chills or cold sweats
  • a bump that grows rapidly
  • a bump that’s extremely painful
  • a bump that’s larger than two inches wide
  • a boil on your face
  • a boil that isn’t gone after two weeks
  • a boil that recurs or if you develop multiple boils

Your doctor has two primary treatment options if the boil is too severe for your home remedies:

Lance and drain: If the boil is extremely painful or large, your doctor may lance or cut the bump to drain the pus and fluid. Your doctor will use sterile equipment, so don’t attempt to do this at home. Boils that have a severe infection may need to be drained more than once.

Antibiotics: Severe or recurrent infections may need antibiotics to prevent future boils. You doctor may also prescribe antibiotics after the boil is drained to prevent a secondary infection.

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Prevention

How to prevent future boils

Preventing boils isn’t always possible, but these tips can help you reduce your risks of future boils or other vaginal bumps:

Change your razor frequently: A dull razor can increase your risk for ingrown hairs. Change razors or blades every three to four weeks.

Don’t share razors: The bacteria responsible for a boil is easily shared with razors. Keep your razor clean, dry, and stored away from others.

Shave in the shower or bath: Don’t dry shave your pubic area. Use a shaving lotion or cream to reduce friction on hair when you shave in the shower or a bath.

Shave in the direction of hair growth: Reduce the likelihood of an ingrown hair and shave in the direction your hair is growing.

Gently exfoliate pubic area: If you shave or wax your pubic area, reduce your chances for developing an ingrown hair by gently exfoliating the area twice a week. Exfoliating can help open any blocked hair follicles and allow hair growth.

Take all antibiotics: If your doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat your infection, complete the entire prescription. Stopping before you’ve taken all the pills may cause a reinfection.

Treat for staph: If you develop recurring boils, your doctor may take a sample of the pus from a boil and have it tested to determine what bacteria are causing the boils. Knowing that bacteria can help your doctor better treat and prevent boils. Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium commonly found on the skin, and it can cause recurring boils, as well as other infections. If this bacterium is responsible, your doctor can specifically treat for it.

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