But there is one place where it is totally normal to get acne that people never want to talk about — in the vaginal and vulvar area.
The truth is women who get genital acne have nothing to be ashamed of because it can happen to anyone and has nothing to do with cleanliness.
“Vaginal acne isn’t as common as acne on the face, back, chest and underarms,” Dr. Kyrin Dunston, board-certified OB-GYN at Signature Functional Medicine in Georgia told Prevention. “But it’s not rare, either.”
Just like facial acne, a pimple that appears in the vulvar region is simply an irritated area of skin that is full of pus due to the overactivity of an oil gland. Whether be it from bacteria overgrowth, detergents or hormonal fluctuations, vaginal acne is generally harmless and can be treated just like acne on any other part of the body.
Do not try to pop any pimples near your vagina or on your vulva, as this may lead to further infections. Instead, opt to hold a warm washcloth on the affected areas to decompress the inflammation, particularly in areas where whiteheads can be seen.
Dr. Michele Farber of Schweiger Dermatology recently advised Teen Vogue readers to use medicated body washes with benzoyl peroxide on affected areas, both as a means of treatment and prevention.
In general, trying to keep the vulvar region as clean and dry as possible is helpful for preventing acne down there. This might include changing out of any moist or sweaty clothes (think bathing suits or gym shorts) as soon as possible and making sure to steer clear of products with potentially irritating ingredients, such as harsh sulfates, glycerin, parabens, phthalates, gluten soy or dairy.
If none of the at-home remedies seem to be working to get rid of your acne, it’s time to schedule a visit with a professional.
“The best thing to do is to undergo an exam by your OB-GYN,” advises Dr. Keith Downing, a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery specialist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. “They should be able to sort out what exactly are the bumps you describe.”
A gynecologist will be able to evaluate whether the bumps in the vaginal area are ingrown hairs or the result of an STI or whether they are just stubborn pimples that need a little TLC in order to disappear.