Genital acne can be a frightening occurrence, since many people associate an ingrown hair on their genital region or inner thigh as a genital wart or another STD. Knowing that genital acne does exist and what it looks like can help ease your fears.
Genital acne is called Hidradenitis Suppurativa, and is actually caused by a few factors, much like facial acne. While facial acne is caused by the sebaceous glands getting clogged, infected or inflamed, in genital acne the aprocrine glands are affected. These are the same glands that are also found in the armpit and nipple area of the body. Sweating, bacteria, and moisture in the genital area can cause clogged aprocrine glands and lead to genital acne, which can cause quite a scare. Also, underdeveloped aprocrine glands can also become clogged, and result in acne.
Genital acne in appearance varies, but in general looks similar to facial acne found on the chin or cheeks. Genital acne typically is red and inflamed in appearance, and looks similar to a blocked pore. Often, a genital hair will be present in the middle of a bright red, scabby sore on the genitals, or the genital acne will appear as a small white bump that does not fade. This is typically a blocked hair follicle that can fade over time, or get larger and become infected if it is picked at or scratched at. Sometimes, especially along the top of the groin or the inner thighs where the area is most moist, there can be several acne clusters along with a rash. Genital acne can be painful and itchy, with or without a whitehead or visible infection. It can often be mistaken for “razor burn”.
The leading causes for genital acne are sweating and tight clothing that does not allow the skin to breathe. Acne can also be found along the nipples and in the armpit as a painful, red bump that stings to the touch. Using a harsh soap while bathing can cause the genital area to produce too much oils and also cause genital acne. Prevention of genital acne includes wearing loose, cotton clothing, washing with mild soaps or just water, and keeping the genital area dry as much as possible.
If you have an ingrown hair or genital acne, do not scratch at or pick at the area. Wash as normal, using a mild soap or just water, and try to keep the area dry. Just like picking at your face, picking at genital acne (or armpit or nipple acne) can actually make the condition more irritating and cause it to spread.
If you believe you may have genital acne, or are fearing an STD, see your doctor or dermatologist to help rule out any other possible condition, but keep in mind that having an ingrown hair or a zit on your crotch is a reality and your doctor can ease your fears for sure. Keep proper hygiene (especially if you are highly active in sports or other sweaty activities) and you should be able to keep a random genital zit at bay.