Anonymous on September 19, 2011

What types of infections cause bumps in the pubic area?

I’m a 21-year-old female and I have bumps in my pubic area. I always thought they were hair follicles, but now I’m uncertain...maybe they’re herpes? They vary in size from big to small, they’re itchy and hard. A few days after a bump has formed, I see a light crust form over it. A different time, the inside of my vagina was red and painful. I also had pain when urinating. Do you know what these bumps might be?

answered by Terri Warren, MS, RN, ANP on September 19, 2011

Thank you for sharing a thorough description of your symptoms. Unfortunately, without a physical exam, it’s hard to know the specific cause of your discomfort.

However, some possible causes of the bumps you describe include a bacterial infection, a fungal infection or a viral infection...including herpes or genital warts. Genital warts can be hard, as you described, but other features of your bumps don’t sound typical for warts, such as the light crust. 

A herpes infection can cause pain with urination, and cause small blisters or open sores that last one to two weeks. When the open sores heal, they form a crust that eventually falls off...but after the sores heal, it doesn’t mean you no longer have herpes. Instead, the virus that causes herpes is simply dormant, or “sleeping.” 

You can learn more about herpes symptoms in our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2

If you have herpes, you’re more likely to have outbreaks without treatment. That’s another reason why I urge you visit your regular healthcare provider. Once a definite diagnosis of your condition has been made, your doctor can also prescribe the most appropriate treatment, if necessary, as well as recommend precautions to reduce the risk of spreading your condition to someone else

Finally, in addition to seeing your doctor, you might also consider getting tested for herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2)...that way, you’ll know for sure if your symptoms indicate a herpes infection, or if you have something else. 

I wish you good luck and good health as you take the next steps toward resolving your symptoms. 

Related Info: 

Terri Warren, MS, RN, ANP

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.

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