(Updated) Blue Waffles Disease is FAKE – Here’s Why

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The internet is full of hoaxes, urban legends, and conspiracy theories. Some internet hoaxes of recent years include the idea that Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook, that Pharrell and Keanu Reeves are immortal vampires, and that the Denver airport is the headquarters of a “New World Order” elite power group controlling the earth from behind the scenes. What can we say—the World Wide Web is weird.

But one of the most persistent internet hoaxes of the past few years centers on a completely made-up STD.  It’s called “Blue Waffles Disease” or “Blue Waffle Disease.” Again – it’s completely fake.

In this article we’ll describe what “blue waffle disease” (supposedly) is, explain why it’s fake, and provide a brief history and some possible explanations for the hoax. We’ll close on when to actually be worried about an STI and what to do about it.

Warning: there’s a graphic image below.

 

What Is “Blue Waffles”?

“Blue Waffle” or “Blue Waffles” is supposedly a new STD that affects predominantly (or according to some sites, only) women. It’s supposed to be a severe bacterial infection that turns the vulva area blue or purple. (Hence the name “blue waffle”—“waffle” is a slang term for the vulva.) Often these sites include a photo of a vulva that is stained a blueish or purple color.

Other symptoms of this fake disease include swelling of the vulva, pain, burning, itching, and a foul odor. Some sites even claim that Blue Waffle disease causes blue discharge!

Here’s an example of a blue waffles picture. (We blurred it so it’s not too gross…but you should get the idea.)

 

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Blue Waffles disease in women is supposedly contracted through “poor vaginal hygiene” and “dirt.” In addition to unprotected sex, websites claim women can contract the blue waffles infection through the use of unclean sex toys, not changing sanitary pads often enough, and wearing dirty underwear.

Sounds kind of freaky and gross, right? Well, don’t worry—it’s definitely not real!

 

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According to the internet, this Barbie is at risk of contracting blue waffles.

 

Blue Waffles: Not Real

I can tell you definitively that “blue waffles” is NOT a real STD or disease that you can contract. It’s not even a weird euphemism for a real condition. It’s completely made-up.

If you’ve read about blue waffles somewhere else, here’s how you can tell that it’s fake through regular common sense.

First, notice how none of these sites can actually describe what causes blue waffles in scientific terms. For other (real) STDs, it’s easy to look up what specific organism(s) or virus(es) cause the disease. But on Blue Waffles sites, they vaguely claim that it’s an “infection” or caused by “bacteria in the vagina.” They can’t name any specific bacteria because it’s a made-up disease!

Additionally, these sites claim that blue waffles predominantly (or only) affects women. It’s true that there are STDs where men and women are not equally likely to have symptoms. But that’s not what most of these sites are claiming. They’re claiming that only women can contract the disease. In this case, only female sex partners could transmit it to each other! This would mean that  blue waffle wouldn’t be an issue when women have unprotected sex with men. And yet sites claim that unprotected sex of all kinds is one of the ways women can get blue waffle! So there’s total inconsistency there.

Furthermore, if blue waffles is an STD, why is it possible to contract it through “not changing your pad” or “wearing dirty underwear”? That doesn’t make any sense. STDs that can be transmitted non-sexually are typically contracted through exposure to other people’s bodily fluids (e.g. when sharing needles). Continued exposure to your own fluids, while not necessarily advised, is not going to give you an STD.

But wait, you say. There’s photographic proof! To this I say, Photoshop is real, friends. Even if you believe main blue waffles picture  is real, there’s a non-blue-waffles explanation. Experts have posited that the purple vulva is just being treated with gentian violet. This is an over-the-counter treatment for yeast infections. To treat a yeast infection with gentian violet, you have to paint up your vulva and vagina with the purple stuff. Hence, the blue/purple color.

If you don’t believe me, believe medical professionals and other health experts. All agree that there is no “blue waffle” STD. Says Dr. Amy Whitaker, an OB-GYN at the University of Chicago:

“There is no disease known as ‘blue waffle disease,’ in the medical world. There is no disease that causes a blue appearance on the external genitalia…The common belief among medical professionals with whom I have spoken or e-mailed about this is that it is a hoax; the picture and ‘fake’ disease used to lure people into some web site.”

Katherine George, Planned Parenthood Southeast director of education, says of her experience debunking the hoax, “I explain that it’s not real…That getting multiple STDs won’t make a vulva look like that and there is no known STD that will make a vulva look like that.”

The truth is that the entire concept of “blue waffles disease” is incredibly sexist. It reinforces ideas that women are dirty in general and women who have sex are especially dirty. While STDs are a genuine health concern, women (and their vaginas) aren’t gross or unclean. In fact, the vagina is self-cleaning. Doing things like douching or using soap won’t prevent disease but will actually make you more likely to get an infection.

 

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Gentian violet isn’t made from the flower—it’s a dye made in a lab!

 

What If I Think I Have Blue Waffles?

If you’re here because you’re worried you have blue waffles, first let me reassure that you don’t have it. If you’re having some of the symptoms of the supposed blue waffles STD, here’s what you could have:

  • Yeast Infection  – A vaginal infection from an overgrowth of yeast that can cause itching; pain with sex and urination; a red, irritated vulva; and white, clumpy discharge.
  • Bacterial Vaginosis – A vaginal infection from an overgrowth of other bacteria in the vagina. Can cause itching, burning during urination, and  foul-smelling discharge.
  • Trichomoniasis – An STI caused by a parasite. Can cause burning or itching in the vulva, genital redness, a frequent urge to urinate or pain with urination, swelling, and a frothy, foul-smelling discharge.
  • Chlamydia – A common bacterial STI. Can cause abdominal/back pain, pain with sex or urination, spotting between periods, bloody urine, and increased quantities of smelly discharge.
  • Gonorrhea – Another common bacterial STI. Can cause burning with urination or more frequent urge to urinate, abdominal pain, pain and swelling in the vulva, and huge quantities of greenish-yellow or whitish discharge.
  • Human Papilloma Virus/Genital Warts – HPV is a viral STD that is extremely common and often asymptomatic. But in symptomatic cases, it can cause genital warts.
  • Herpes Simplex – A virus that causes sores or ulcers to break out on the genitals. Can also cause burning with urination and itching, and even some flulike symptoms. Cannot be cured, but can be managed with antiviral medication.

If any of these symptoms sound like yours, go to your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. There’s no need to panic. These conditions are fairly simple to treat and/or manage, and for the most part, don’t have any serious long-term effects.

While contracting a genital infection or STI can feel very nerve-wracking or shameful, there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

 

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A really, really, really up-close view of gonorrhea. From CDC Public Health Image Library.

 

How Did the Blue Waffles Myth Get Started?

It’s not clear exactly when or where the blue waffles hoax first began. But Peter Serrano from Planned Parenthood NYC said he first heard about it from teens in 2010 or 2011 who wanted to know if the disease was real—so clearly the hoax already had some traction by then. The myth spread like wildfire thanks to the social media and some photoshopped (or inaccurately presented) pictures.

Blue waffles reached peak notoriety when a Trenton councilwoman, victim of an April Fool’s day prank call from a “concerned citizen,” raised blue waffles as a dire health issue in a city council meeting. She was roundly mocked for her credulity—but even if she had Googled it she might have been confused! There’s a lot of prominent misinformation out there.

 

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Fact-check phone calls from concerned citizens.

 

How to Actually Protect Yourself Against STDs

While Blue Waffles is not real, some of its symptoms do resemble those of real STDs. (Discharge, pain/itching in the vulva, and lesions are all symptoms of some STIs.) So while there’s no need to worry about blue waffles, you should still take steps to protect yourself from contracting other STIs. Practice safe sex and use barrier protection (barriers to protect you from bodily fluids like condoms and dental dams) unless you are in a committed relationship and everyone has been tested and treated for STDs.

Some symptoms of the blue waffles STD in women are similar to those of non-sexual vaginal infections, like a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. In any situation where you are seeing unusual discharge, experiencing pain or burning in your genitals, or seeing lesions or sores, go to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

And if you hear your friends talking about “blue waffles disease,” send them to this page to get the facts!

 

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Stay away from houses of ill-fame to avoid real STDs! Image from CDC Public Health Image Library.

 

Final Word on Blue Waffles Disease

The final word on blue waffles is that it’s not real! It’s an internet hoax, and a kind of sexist one at that.

If you are having itching, burning, or pain in your genitals, unusual discharge, or sores or lesions, go to a doctor for treatment and diagnosis.

And while blue waffles isn’t real (and you should send anyone who says it is to this page!), you should still practice safe sex to reduce your risk of contracting an STD that is actually real.

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