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I shave my genitals...now I noticed some small red bumps. Is it herpes?
Today I noticed about three or four really small bumps in my shaved pubic area. They almost look like pimples. Could this be genital herpes, even though I haven’t had unprotected sex or received oral sex from someone with a cold sore?
Terri Warren, MS, RN, ANP on September 14, 2011
Thank you for sharing your concern.
Actually, there are lots of things that can cause bumps on the pubic area...for example, something as simple as folliculitis, a rash that often occurs after shaving when the hair follicles become inflamed. If this is the case, when you look closely at the bumps, most of them will have a hair coming out of them.
Another possible cause of bumps in the genital area is a viral infection called molluscum contagiosum. It causes small, domed flesh colored bumps with a little indentation in the middle.
You say you haven’t had unprotected sex, and that’s great. Using condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting herpes by 30-50%...however, that still leaves some room for infection. So you may be at risk for herpes even if you've always used condoms with intercourse.
The only way to sort out the cause of your bumps is to get tested, and to see a clinician who’s informed about genital rashes. Your healthcare provider will talk to you about your sexual history and can do any appropriate tests. When you visit your doctor, be prepared to provide a complete and honest sexual history so they have the information they need to arrive at the right diagnosis.
You may also want to check out our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2 for more information about herpes symptoms, testing and prevention.
I appreciate your question, and I wish you good luck in resolving your symptoms.
Warren is a Nurse Practitioner and owner of Westover Heights Clinic in Oregon. She is a renown expert and author in the field of genital herpes research, diagnosis and treatment. Warren was educated at Oregon Health and Sciences University and the University of Portland.