A Woman Popping a Pimple

5 Common Causes of Sex Bumps on Your Face

Pimples are caused when plugged oil glands (sebaceous glands) produce too much sebum. These can appear on the face, neck and chest.

Some bumps and lumps in the genital area are harmless and don’t need treatment. But others can be serious and should be checked by a doctor or nurse.

1. Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum (mo-LUS-kum kun-tay-OH-sum) is a common skin infection that causes small bumps. These bumps are usually clear or flesh-colored and can be found alone or in groups (clusters). They may also have a small dent in the center. These bumps are usually harmless and go away on their own without treatment. The virus that causes molluscum contagiosum is spread by skin-to-skin contact with people who have it, or by touching infected items, such as towels. It can also spread through sexual activity. Molluscum contagiosum often happens in kids, but it can affect adults who have a weak immune system, too.

The rash of molluscum contagiosum starts as small spots, called papules. They may look like a pinhead, or they can grow larger. The papules are firm but get soft over time, and they may drain a clear to white fluid. As more papules develop, they can form a cluster or line that looks like a rash. Most people with molluscum contagiosum do not need treatment, and the bumps will fade on their own in 6 months to 2 years. They are more likely to go away if their skin is kept clean and if they do not scratch or shave the bumps.

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If you want to remove the molluscum contagiosum, your doctor can scrape, freeze, or put medicine on the bumps to make them disappear faster. These treatments may cause scars.

2. Fordyce Spots

Fordyce spots are small, harmless, noncancerous papules that occur in the foreskin and labia of the females and in the groin and penis of males. These bumps appear on the skin because of enlarged oil glands, which secrete a natural substance called sebum that keeps the skin and hair moisturized. During puberty, these glands become more active, causing them to enlarge. This is also why men and those assigned male at birth develop these spots more often than women do.

These bumps are very common in most people, and they rarely cause any symptoms or health problems. However, they may be unsightly for some individuals, and they can sometimes be confused with genital warts, which are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Because of this, it’s important to see a dermatologist if you have Fordyce spots so that your doctor can ensure you’re not suffering from an STD.

Usually, these bumps don’t need to be removed, but they can be treated with micro-punch surgery or electrocoagulation. These procedures involve a doctor using a pen-like apparatus to “punch” the skin and remove the spots, along with some of the surrounding tissue. They are relatively painless, and they can also be used to treat other conditions that cause sex bumps, such as sebaceous hyperplasia or millium cysts. Other treatment options include the use of topical ointments, such as jojoba oil or argan oil mixed with lavender oil, which can help to reduce the size of enlarged glands and balance the amount of sebum produced.

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3. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis causes bumps on the skin that are red to purple or darker than your natural skin tone, itchy and can blister. Depending on the cause, the rash may last from a few days to a few weeks. Itchy rashes often appear on the hands and feet but can occur anywhere on the body. Symptoms are usually caused by an irritant or allergy and can be brought on by the following:

Irritation from chemicals, plants and metals can trigger contact dermatitis. Plants like poison ivy, oak and sumac contain oil that is an allergen to many people. Other common irritants include solvents, detergents, soaps, jewelry, nickel-containing scissors or belt buckles, dyes and makeup. Itchy rashes can also be caused by excessive washing of the hands with hot water and harsh soaps, wearing scratchy wool or certain clothing materials and by over-using hand lotion.

Treatment for this condition is to avoid the substance that is causing your rash. Your doctor may also prescribe topical and oral medications to relieve itching and swelling. They may also use a patch test where they apply patches of diluted allergens to your skin to determine the specific substances that you are allergic to. This will help you identify what to avoid in the future. If your rash is severe, your doctor may do a skin culture or biopsy to see what the underlying problem is.

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4. Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes herpetic sores, which are fluid-filled blisters. There are two types of herpes viruses: HSV-1, which usually causes cold sores, and HSV-2, which typically causes genital herpes.

The first herpes outbreak can be very painful and itchy, but the sores eventually crust over and heal. During an outbreak, you may also have fever, headache and general flu-like symptoms. Your groin area may feel tender and swollen, and you may have trouble urinating. You can have genital herpes without having any symptoms at all, but you should get tested if you’re worried about it.

You can catch herpes by touching a sore and then touching another part of your body, like your face or fingers. You can also spread herpes by having sex with a partner who has an active outbreak of herpes. Your doctor will give you medicine to help manage your outbreaks, and you can use a condom during sex to reduce the chance of passing the virus on.

There’s no cure for herpes, but you can take steps to prevent outbreaks. The best way to protect yourself is by using a condom or oral herpes cream before having sex and always washing your hands. It’s important to avoid skin-to-skin contact while you have an active herpes outbreak, and you should always practice safe sex by wearing a latex or polyurethane condom.