Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on September 20, 2011

Could I get genital warts from someone fingering me?

I’m a teenage girl and about a month ago, a guy I know fingered me. Now I have something that looks like a pimple growing on the left lip of my vagina. It feels like a wart and the center is white. It doesn’t hurt, but it is itchy. I don’t know what it is...could it be genital warts? How should I treat it? 

answered by Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 20, 2011

It’s great that you’re paying close attention to changes in your body. There are a many different causes of bumps on the genitals...including genital warts, genital herpes or a skin irritation. But without a doctor's examination, it's hard to know the cause of your symptom. I can help by providing some background, but I encourage you to visit your doctor for a visual exam.

First, you asked if it could be genital warts...

Genital warts are caused by a specific strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). The type of HPV that causes genital warts usually lives near the genitals, but it can be carried on the hands in some circumstances. If the guy who fingered you has HPV, and he touched his own genitals right before touching yours, it’s possible that he could transfer HPV to you. 

You might notice you have genital warts if you see bumps that are skin-colored, pink or brown. They can be clustered together or separate, and might be rough or smooth. They usually aren’t described as having a white head, but sometimes they can be itchy. A healthcare professional will diagnose genital warts from a visual exam. You can learn more about HPV risks, symptoms, testing and treatment in our HPV Overview. 

Another possibile cause of your symptom is genital herpes. If the person who fingered you has active herpes sores either on his genitals or on his mouth (e.g., cold sores), he could have potentially transferred herpes to your genitals. Herpes sores usually look like blisters or open red sores. Again, you can learn more detailed information about herpes in our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.

But your bump could be caused by a number of different possibilities that aren't an STD...for example, did you know it’s possible to develop pimples, and even white heads, on your genitals? There are also some glands that can become clogged near your vagina opening and could look like a pimple. 

What are your next steps? I encourage you to talk to your doctor about the bump you noticed. By visiting your doctor in the next few days, you’ll be able to find out if the bump is caused by herpes. (Otherwise you’ll need to wait about six weeks until your body builds herpes antibodies for a different test.) And your doctor can also visually examine the bump to see if it looks more like genital warts, a pimple or a different condition. In the meantime, don’t pick at the bump or squeeze it because that could cause an infection. 

I hope this information is helpful to you in getting to the bottom of what’s causing the bump on the lip of your vagina. Good luck and good health! 

Related info:

Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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