What is a Bartholin abscess?
Bartholin glands produce fluid in small quantities. When the glands are blocked, fluid builds up inside the gland and develops a sac-like structure which is usually called a cyst. Usually, only one gland gets infected, not both.
If the duct of the gland is clogged, the gland fills with mucus and becomes enlarged, resulting in the formation of cysts. This type of cyst develops in about 2% of women, usually after the age of 20. The cyst can become infected and form an abscess. As women age, these cysts and abscesses are less likely to form.
The cause of the obstruction is not known. A cyst may require months to years to form but an abscess is formed quickly. Bartholin abscesses may be painful when pressure is exerted and the abscess can be red, swollen, and filled with pus.
Escherichia coli,Staphylococcus aureus, and bacteria from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis) are some of the known organisms to cause Bartholin abscesses. If the infection remains undetected and untreated, it may lead to severe systemic infection.
Other bacterial species involved in abscess development are as follows:
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Klebsiella varicola
- Neisseria sicca
- Pasteurella bettii
- Brucella melitensis
Signs and symptoms
Bartholin cysts are generally not painful. Bartholin abscesses, however, tend to be very painful. Apart from pain, other signs and symptoms include:
- Difficulty with sexual activity, walking, or running due to discomfort
- A lump on the inside of the skin on the affected area of the vagina
- Inflamed skin around the abscess
Asymptomatic, small, Bartholin cysts or abscesses in women may require no treatment. Warm compresses may be used to try to drain the cyst. Larger abscesses that are painful may need minor surgery to drain them and remove them. Typically, this procedure is an incision and drainage (I&D) followed by various techniques to promote proper drainage and healing.
If a Bartholin abscess is not caused by any bacterial infection, then there is no need to initiate antibiotic therapy.
In case of urgent medical care assistance, AfterOurs Urgent Care offers immediate telemedicine services, where medical providers are available to offer assistance. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms requiring urgent medical attention can simply book their appointment with AfterOurs Urgent Care to directly talk to an expert. If your medical issue is not appropriate for telemedicine, we will let you know and refer you to an in-person facility.
When to visit a doctor:
If you experience pain or inflammation around your vaginal area, then you should seek immediate medical assistance.
Treatment for Bartholin abscess is available at AfterOurs Urgent Care.