by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Labial Abscess)


A vulvar abscess is a buildup of bacteria and pus beneath the skin of the vulva. The vulva consists of the external genitals of a woman. It includes the mons pubis, labia major and minor, clitoris, and the urethral and vaginal openings.

Female Genitalia
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This problem is caused by a bacterial infection.

The infection may happen from:

  • An ingrown hair from shaving or waxing
  • A blocked sweat gland
  • Bacteria that gets inside a wound or opening

Risk Factors

Things that may the risk of this problem are:

  • Removing pubic hair using waxing, shaving, or laser treatment
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Having a genital piercing
  • Poor hygiene
  • Having skin problems, such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Crohn disease
  • Lichen sclerosus


Problems may be:

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Redness, warmth, and swelling
  • A bump or rash
  • Discharge of pus
  • Fever and chills


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Fluids from the abscess may be tested.


Smaller abscesses may get better or drain on their own. Treatment may include:

  • Supportive care, such as soaking the area in warm water to help ease pain and promote healing or draining
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Over the counter pain relievers to ease discomfort
    • Antibiotics to treat infection

Some people may need surgery to open and drain a large abscess.


To lower the risk of this problem:

  • Wash the vulvar area with soap and water. Dry it well.
  • Clean and treat any minor skin wounds, such as those from hair removal treatments.
  • Do not wear tight clothing.


American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians 


Health Canada 

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada 


Abscess. NHS Choices website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Abscesses. The Royal Women’s Hospital website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Bartholin gland cyst. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Lee MY, Dalpiaz A, et al. Clinical Pathology of Bartholin's Glands: A Review of the Literature. Curr Urol. 2015 May;8(1):22-25.

Managing common vulvar skin conditions. Harvard Health Publications website. Available at: Accessed October 28, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2020
  • Update Date: 05/05/2021