Cysts are solid or fluid-filled sacs. They commonly form in your skin, and may possibly develop along your bikini line. These are different from razor burns or acne-like breakouts called folliculitis, both of which cause smaller spots on your skin.
While most cysts are harmless, the bumps that appear along your bikini line may become a bigger issue if you try to squeeze or pop them. It’s also important that you see a dermatologist for any lumps that are bothersome or look unusual.
Here’s what you need to know about bikini line cysts and what you can do to help treat and prevent them.
Types of cysts that can appear near or on the bikini line
- Pilar cysts contain thick white or yellow fluids.
- Epidermoid cysts have keratin in them, which is primarily yellow in color.
While both develop in the skin, epidermoid cysts are more common in the genital area than pilar cysts.
Many cases of skin cysts have unknown causes. However, if you have a cyst along your bikini line, it may be caused by trapped hairs, oil, or skin cells.
Commonplace after at-home pubic hair removal, ingrown hairs start off as small, red, and itchy bumps that develop when your hair grows back into your skin. However, not all ingrown hairs necessarily become cysts. Ingrown hairs are most common in people with curly or coarse hair.
If you have oily skin, you may occasionally develop pilar cysts. These form when sebum (oil) becomes trapped in the underlying oil glands. Trapped sebum can then accumulate, a substance that looks like thick cheese.
Lack of exfoliation
Sometimes, dead skin cells may become trapped underneath the skin if the skin is not exfoliated. Epidermoid cysts develop when these trapped skin cells multiply under the surface, where keratin then fills the area, creating a bump.
A cyst on your bikini line may:
- look round or dome-shaped
- have a flesh-colored appearance
- range in size between that of a pea or as large as several centimeters
- look like there’s a “pouch” of fluid inside
- look either white or yellowish along the surface, depending on the type
- contain a “head” or visible pore in its center
- have a visible trapped hair inside of it
- be tender to the touch
- have a solid texture
- emit a strong odor if it’s drained
While cysts can occur anywhere in your skin, it’s also possible to develop other types of lesions. Other possible types of bikini line bumps include:
It’s possible for a bikini line cyst to become infected, particularly if you try to squeeze it, or if it constantly rubs against clothing. Signs of a possible infected cyst include:
- redness of the bump
- red streaks emitting away from the bump
- pain or tenderness
- yellow pus or other discharge
Skin cysts may multiply in number, particularly in the genital area.
Some skin cysts — especially those that are small in size — may eventually go away on their own without treatment. However, if your bikini line cyst is bothersome, see your doctor for the following treatments.
These are used for cysts that are large, red, and inflamed. Prescription steroid creams may also be applied to the cyst.
An infected bikini line cyst may be treated with oral antibiotics. It’s important to take your full prescription, even if you see improvement in your symptoms after a few days. See your doctor for a follow-up visit if the infection worsens despite antibiotic treatment.
Your dermatologist may choose excision to cut the lining of the entire cyst wall and remove the contents. While you will see results right away, one drawback to this method is a potential risk for scarring.
A less invasive method of cyst removal is to drain the contents. The downside is that this method doesn’t treat the lining of the cyst, so the bump could have an increased risk of returning.
You should see your doctor for any bikini line cyst that is bothering you, as well as if the bump is showing signs of an infection.
It’s also important to seek medical attention for bikini line bumps that may be attributed to another condition entirely.
Any bump that changes in size, color, or texture should be examined by a dermatologist to rule out other conditions.
Since skin cysts have a high chance of recurrence in the genital area, it’s important to help prevent new bikini line cysts from forming. While not all cases of skin cysts are preventable, those attributed to lifestyle habits may be minimized.
One example is a bikini line cyst caused by ingrown hairs from hair removal. You may consider professional hair removal if you struggle with recurrent cysts or ingrown hairs.
If you decide to shave your bikini line at home, you may help minimize ingrown hairs and cysts by:
- using a small razor designed for pubic hair
- shaving on wet skin only
- using shaving cream or gel
- shaving in the same direction as hair growth
- using a gentle scrub, loofah, or washcloth to exfoliate your skin after shaving
- patting your skin dry and following that with a fragrance-free lotion
Bikini line cysts are generally harmless, but they can become bothersome if they are large, irritated, or easily visible. A hands-off approach is the best way to prevent infection and scarring, but a doctor can help remove or drain the cyst if it grows larger.
As a rule of thumb, see a doctor if you’re unsure whether the bumps on your bikini line are cysts. You should also speak with them if any suspected cyst rapidly changes in size, shape, or texture.