Womens Health

Vulvar Sweat Gland Cysts

Frederick R. Jelovsek MD

Vulvar Cyst Questions

"For the last 6 months I have been having problems with sweat gland cysts on my vaginal area. I have had 2 removed and now have a third on that needs removing, what caused these and is there anything that can be done to prevent them? My doctor says no! Thank you ".


There are several skin structures on the vulva that can become infected or grow into nodules and bumps that can be quite irritating. As with any skin, there are hair follicles, sweat glands and other skin glands such as Bartholin glands, and vestibule glands. Infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria can cause skin lumps as well.

When a doctor examines the vulvar area, some of the lesions may have characteristic appearances such as HPV virus causing condyloma accuminata, a pox virus causing Molluscum contagiosum, or Herpes Simplex virus causing genital herpes.

These can be diagnosed just by looking at the lesions. Other lesions however are not so obvious to diagnose and they may need to have biopsies or special tests performed in order to confirm what is causing the lump or lesion.

Since biopsies are painful and some of the tests are expensive, doctor may choose to avoid a biopsy if the lesion in unlikely to be malignant and it appears to be a one or two time problem - not a chronic recurrence.

When this happens, the doctor just gives you "a best guess". It is not uncommon to label a vulvar lump or pustule as a hair follicle inflammation or a sweat gland cyst when in fact the degree of certainty is not very high.

If the lesion goes away on its own or with simple treatment of sitz bath cleansing or antibiotics, then preciseness of diagnosis is less crucial. The truth is, however, that these lesions need to be biopsied to be sure of what they are.

There are many different entities or conditions that can present this way on the vulva and if the problem is recurrent, biopsies are necessary.

Table of Contents
1. Vaginal Cysts
2. Surgery or antibioitics?
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