A vulvar abscess is a buildup of bacteria and pus beneath the skin of the vulva. The vulva consists of the external genitals of a woman. It includes the mons pubis, labia major and minor, clitoris, and the urethral and vaginal openings.
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This problem is caused by a bacterial infection.
The infection may happen from:
- An ingrown hair from shaving or waxing
- A blocked sweat gland
- Bacteria that gets inside a wound or opening
Things that may the risk of this problem are:
Problems may be:
- Redness, warmth, and swelling
- A bump or rash
- Discharge of pus
- Fever and chills
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Fluids from the abscess may be tested.
Smaller abscesses may get better or drain on their own. Treatment may include:
- Supportive care, such as soaking the area in warm water to help ease pain and promote healing or draining
- Medicines, such as:
- Over the counter pain relievers to ease discomfort
- Antibiotics to treat infection
Some people may need surgery to open and drain a large abscess.
To lower the risk of this problem:
- Wash the vulvar area with soap and water. Dry it well.
- Clean and treat any minor skin wounds, such as those from hair removal treatments.
- Do not wear tight clothing.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydoctor.org
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Abscess. NHS Choices website. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Abscess/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Abscesses. The Royal Women’s Hospital website. Available at: https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/vulva-vagina/vulva-vagina-problems/abscesses. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Bartholin gland cyst. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bartholin-gland-cyst-and-abscess. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Lee MY, Dalpiaz A, et al. Clinical Pathology of Bartholin's Glands: A Review of the Literature. Curr Urol. 2015 May;8(1):22-25.
Managing common vulvar skin conditions. Harvard Health Publications website. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/managing_common_vulvar_skin_conditions. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 5/5/2021