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Vaginal Blisters and Sores: Don't Panic!

You won’t hear your best girlfriend mention vaginal sores when she calls to shoot the breeze. You won’t hear your mum bring up the possibility of vulvar blisters the next time you go shopping together. You won’t hear your sister-in-law talk about labial bumps at your anniversary dinner. In fact, I doubt you’d hear anyone (apart from people like me who aren’t embarrassed by these things) talk shop about vaginal blisters unless you came right out and asked them. Even then, I’m not sure they’d answer you.

Fortunately for you, I’m here to ease your mind and let you know that some blisters are just that — blisters. And normal vaginal blisters are nothing to be alarmed or ashamed about.

Examine Your Blister Closely

The image below is that of a blister on someone's hand, but I've included it because it's similar to what a vaginal blister would look like. The main difference would be the color of your skin — if the blister is on pink, red, purple, brown, or black skin, the blister is going to reflect that, obviously.

Notice that it looks like a soft, smooth bubble and notice that it doesn't have an obvious border around it, such as a ring of another color or texture. This is a big clue as to whether or not you've got an STD-related blister or just an ordinary vaginal blister.

A Typical Hand Blister:

Copyright Johannes Hemmerlein
  • A cluster of blisters, or blisters that itch and burn, should be checked by a gynecologist asap to rule out Herpes – the longer you wait, the more difficult it is to test.
  • Soft, cauliflower-shaped skintags or bumps should be checked immediately to rule out genital warts and HPV.
  • A totally painless blister in the vaginal area (often with a hard-edged border) should be checked immediately to rule out Syphilis.
  • If it’s painful and irregularly-shaped (often with an obvious border), you should have it checked immediately to rule out Chancroid.

Who Gets Them?

Anyone can get a vaginal blister. (Well, anyone with a vagina.) You don’t have to be sexually active, you don’t have to be unclean, and you don’t have to be anything in particular. You just need the right anatomy.

Causes of vaginal blisters commonly include, but are not limited to: friction, ingrown hairs, and clogged sweat glands.

What Do They Look Like?

A non-STD related vaginal or vulvar blister doesn’t look like your typical STD blister or bump. An ordinary vaginal blister pretty much resembles any other blister, and may contain fluid or blood. They can be ovular or circular and may feel like a gel bubble when touched. They might appear as clear colored blisters, or they may be very red, possibly turning very dark in the center as the blood inside ages. However they shouldn’t have an obvious border (raised or otherwise) and they shouldn’t itch or burn or smell badly. They typically would appear as a single blister, as opposed to a cluster like you'd expect to see with a Herpes outbreak.

Do They Hurt?

These blisters can show up anywhere on the vulva, and most of the time they go unnoticed until some sort of friction occurs. They don’t usually hurt on their own like a bee sting would, but if you touch them directly, they will be at least a bit tender to the touch, if not a bit painful. If you’ve got one on the inner labia, for example, you might not notice it at all until you experience a bit of pain when drying yourself after tinkling. Obviously, other sorts of direct contact could hurt as well, but, generally speaking, if you’re not touching it, it shouldn’t hurt.

How Do You Treat It?

The best treatment is a good soak in a hot bath. You can try a sitz bath or other types of special treatments but I haven’t found them to be necessary. Soaking in the water encourages them to rupture naturally and painlessly. You should not open them yourself because that would make you more susceptible to infection. Just let them run their course naturally and the healing will take place on its own.

How Long Do They Last?

The few I’ve had over the years have lasted less than a week, but it could take longer than this if your body needs longer to heal. This is not something you should still have months after first noticing it.

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