Causes of Swelling in Labia and Its Treatment

Swelling in the labia may be generalized, that is, throughout the vulva, or localized, confined to particular structures only.

It may be unilateral or bilateral. There may be other symptoms associated with it like burning, pain or itching.

The cause of vulval swelling is diagnosed on the basis of the presentation of the swelling.

Localized Lump

Cyst– Vulva has plenty of glands in it which secrete lubricating secretions. It is possible that the duct of one of the glands gets blocked to produce a swelling (bartholin’s cyst). Such swellings may be painless to begin with. However, there are chances that it gets infected and becomes painful and tender.

Hernia– A part of the internal viscera may protrude through a vulvar lip to give a swelling. Swelling due to hernia are reducible and usually painless. They become more prominent on prolonged standing.

Abscess– An abscess is collection of pus due to a localized infection. This may be due to pulled hair, blocked duct, insect bite etc.

An abscess needs immediate attention. You need to get it drained at the earliest.

Generalized Swelling

This may be due to an infection involving both inner and outer labia, some allergy or edema.

Allergy

Allergy produces redness in the skin area and some swelling.

You may be allergic to a particular soap or douche being used. Allergies to clothes, touching the vulval skin, is also common.

As a general practice, it is advised that you wear only cotton undergarments. Let your clothes be loose allowing ventilation and less of friction, particularly at night times.

After Sex

If you notice some swelling in your labia minora or labia majora each time after intercourse, you may be allergic to some stuff being used during sex. This may be your condom (latex) or any lubricating gel being used.

Some women are allergic to semen. There are ways to manage it.

Infections

A generalized infection is called vulvovaginitis. It may be due to many causes.

Due to Yeast Infection

This is the most common cause of vulvovaginitis in women of all age groups. The causative organism is a fungus called candida albicans.

The infection spreads very fast if left untreated. It may go from the vulva to vagina and then to the cervix (cervicitis).

Anti fungal medications are given to treat it. Topical creams are available to combat it.

Trichomonas vaginitis is a parasitic infection involving the vulvar region. The vagina is also affected. Labia are swollen and itchy. A yellow to green vaginal discharge is often present.

Bacterial vaginosis, is a bacterial infection of the genital area. A clear or yellowish vaginal discharge with fishy odor is present.

Generalized Edema

This may have a vascular cause.

During Pregnancy

As the pregnancy advances, the enlarged uterus puts pressure over the blood vessels of the pelvis.

The venous return and lymphatic drainage is affected and the labia may appear swollen.

Any Blockage of Lymphatic Channels of the Pelvis

This may produce a swelling in the vulvar structures.

Anatomical Variation

Some females may have hypertrophied (enlarged) labia minora. This may be a normal variation.

Due to Injuries

A rough intercourse may injure your parts and cause bruises over the labia.

Injuries due to instrumentation during child birth are common.

Treatment

If you have a swollen labia, do not ignore. Visit your gyne for evaluation and treatment.

  • For infections, anti-fungals or antibiotic creams are given.
  • Keep the vulval area clean and dry. Wash it regularly, but gently, with plain water. Avoid using much of beauty products and soaps for the area. The inner labia are very sensitive, and may become dry or allergic to outside products. It’s just the normal vaginal secretions that they want.
  • Avoid tight clothing around your genitals. Loose cotton clothes are the best to keep the area dry and healthy.
  • For localized swellings, warm compress techniques may be used to relieve pain.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Swollen Labia – Causes and Management

  1. Jan

    My Labia and anal area along where I wipe are itchy, sore and red, if I scratch skin comes off, in dandruff like flakes in the front and like wet dead skin cells in the back and the exposed new skin is irritated and raw. I have had no lasting change in my discharge over the period of almost a year that I have had this problem. I am very careful about hygiene and I have tried several different toilet papers and baby wipes. I have also tried using milder soaps and even just water while bathing. I was prescribed a cream early on that relieved the itching but did not take care of the problem (just made me smell weird and feel greasy).
    What could be causing this? And what can I do to heal it?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This condition requires a physical exam for diagnosis. It is suggested you see a gyne for evaluation.

      This may be some allergic condition or some infection. A condition called Lichen sclerosis presents in a similar way. Prompt treatment is required to prevent scarring of the area.

      Reply
  2. Joan

    I have a problem with my labia majora (outer vaginal lip). I had sex with my boyfriend today then soon after we finished I realized one of my vaginal lip was severely swollen and a little tender. I have not used any condoms or soaps and the guy is my long time boyfriend and we trust each other. Please help me diagnose my problem because I am so worried.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Was it a rough intercourse? This sounds like a traumatic injury.

      For now, just apply topical betamethasone ointment over the swollen labia. Wait for 3 to 4 days. If it doesn’t improve, you may need to see a gyne for examination.

      Reply
  3. Jasmine

    Hello Dr,
    I am now 30 years old. I noticed my left labia majora is bigger than right side since I was in puberty. Sometimes it feels itchy. But started from two days ago, I feel worse and depress because besides of itch, I can feel that there is a lump which is slightly painful. I feel shy to go and see doctor. Please give me advice. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      It may be some mild infection. Start applying a topical vaginal ointment containing clotrimazole and betamethasone (like candid-B) over the swollen labia.

      Apply it thrice daily for 3 to 4 days. Let us know the results.

      Reply
  4. Jasmine

    I am now at Singapore. I can not buy candid-b without prescription. Instead, I got Canesten HC. The pharmacist told me to apply twice a day. Can it be work?

    Reply
      1. Jasmine

        Thanks a lot for your advice. I become relieve ( no more pain and swollen) after 7 times applied cream. But still, it is itchy. Hopefully, it will be healed. Now I am applying twice daily. How can I stop to use cortisone?

        Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          You’ll need to use it for some more time, till you have the itchy feeling.

          After that, you may stop using the cream.

          Reply
  5. Linda

    My left labia minora becomes swollen, pain and itchy. It’s really makes me embarrass. Please help me to give advice ( hope not to go and see doctor).

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This appears to be an infection. You may start using some antifungal cream, like canesten (with hydrocortisone) over the affected area.

      If it doesn’t improve, you may need to go for a check up.

      Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Swelling indicates engorgement, as in sexual arousal states.

      It is difficult to comment why this happens after evacuation. May the touching around buttocks and genitals causes it!

      Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      As is detailed above, there are many causes that may lead to a swollen labia.

      It may be an infection. Usually, some discharge from the vagina is also seen in such cases.

      It may be due to trauma during sex.

      You need to see a gyne for examination to known the exact reason.

      Reply
  6. Cynthia

    I’ve been to doctors several times about this. My right inner vaginal side is swollen and painful. It feels okay when I’m standing or walking, but I can’t sit or lay down without pain. There is no redness or itching or yeast infection. Heat from baths makes it worse. Ice bags help but don’t cure it. Ibuprofen doesn’t help with pain, nor does Ultram and Neurontin that they gave me. I don’t think any of the doctors know what they are doing. This is really frustrating, depressing and painful. I can’t have relations with my boyfriend. Now, I’m going to have pelvic physical therapy. Will that even help?

    Reply
  7. Tiff

    My left labia has been swollen for a week. I got it to go down but the lower it goes the more worse it seems to be. The middle part or should I say the labia minora? Is swollen at the bottom making it difficult to sit. I was given antibiotics and ibuprofen but it doesn’t seem like it works. As I look down to it I see that it’s sore and hurts to touch and when I do touch it, it feels a little hard. What can this be? Any suggestions on how to get rid of it? If it is a cyst there is nothing showing for it to be popped. Please help.

    Reply
      1. Tiff

        I am taking sulfamethoxazole and 600mg ibuprofen. Towards the very bottom it is really swollen and I went to see and it seems to be swollen inside too. It comes off as a hard bump but again, there is nothing that shows to pop it. I have tried hot bath and icing it and the pain is just unbearable.

        Reply
        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          Do not force try to take out the pus. This may be a staph infection. Talk to your doctor about it. You may need to change the antibiotic being taken. Switch to methcillin/cloxacillin.

          Reply
          1. Tiff

            Do you know how this will be removed? And is there any medication to stop the pain? The ibuprofen 600mg is not working. This pain is unbearable.

          2. Buddy M.D. Post author

            It’s not possible to remove it. You’ll have to take antibiotics to kill the germ inside and reduce the swelling.

            Talk to your doctor at the earliest to change the antibiotic.

  8. Tinab

    What causes swells that become hard and produce white substances when squeezed around genitals? and how can one cure that?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      A swelling having white pasty substance may be a blocked sebaceous cyst. The white pasty substance is likely to be sebum.

      Such swelling are not painful. They are at a risk of getting infected. So, their management include surgical drainage.

      Reply
  9. florence

    Hi doctor, my left labia is very itchy and swollen. I have consulted gyne already yet the itchiness is still there. It gives me discomfort at work and I noticed also a white bump and looks like a pimple. I’m applying an anti fungal cream yet it’s wakes me up in the middle of the night to scratch. Please help. Thanks!!!

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You may start applying mupirocin ointment, instead of the anti fungal cream, over the affected area. Keep the area clean and dry.

      Avoid friction over the pimple while walking or sitting.

      Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Hello doctor. I have swollen in minor labia but I don’t know how they are and the other doctor said that if the swelling are not well within 5 days. So they treat a surgery in that area so this are right for me? Please help. They give Forcef-cv500 tablet.

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Take the tablets for now, as your doctor advised. Your labia swelling is very likely to respond to it.

      It may be an infection inside the labial tissue.

      Reply
  11. Angel

    Hi, I fell on top of a hook for a seat belt buckle and I hit my right outer labia and now it’s swollen and hard. It happened on Friday night and I visited the doctor on Saturday morning. Now I take ibuprofen and augmenting BID 625 mg. Should I use cold or hot compress and how long will it take to go away?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      You are advised to take the medicines prescribed. You’ll improve gradually within a week.

      There’s no harm in doing cold/ hot compress over the wound.

      Reply
  12. esther

    I was suffering from candidiasis of vagina since past two weeks. I took oral fluconazole for it last week and got some relief. Itching in vulvar area still persisted. This morning after waking I had itched/ scratched over my clothes on the vulvar area. Later I found the vulvae very much swollen as in angioedema. I had cetrizine and fexofenidine later. The condition mildly improved with cold water splashes only. What should I do next?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Looks like you’ve developed some superimposed bacterial infection. May have scratched the portion too much.

      You need to take antibiotics now.

      Reply
  13. missy

    I am four months pregnant and I recently started having this swelling at the lower part of my right labia majora after sex, is that normal?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      If you have any pain over the swelling, it may be an infection. See a gyne for it. You may require antibiotics.

      If there is no pain or itching, you may just let it be.

      Reply
  14. grace mc

    Hello doctor. I noticed my left external labia swollen, with irritating and burning of my whole external labia. I noticed this five days ago I applied clotrimazole cream those itching, irriting character disapper but still swelling persist. What should I do?

    Reply
  15. Nichole

    Hi doctor,
    My left minora labia is swollen and it itches really bad. I was just wondering why and what can I do to fix this problem.

    Reply
  16. Liz

    Hello Doctor, I’m 36 and 18 weeks pregnant. Had my first child with c-section. Now I’m experiencing slight pain and swelling other the vulva mostly on the left side. I have no itching or pimples that’s can be seen. It’s better when I get up in the morning but by the end of the day it’s really uncomfortable. . Please help

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      This appears to be normal. Likely to be due to increased blood supply and congested over the labia down there.

      Avoid long standing hours. Try to lie down straight more frequently.

      Reply