Vaginal Itching and Discharge in Children : When to Worry
Itching , redness and swelling of the skin of the vagina and the surrounding area (vulva) is a common problem in girls before the age of puberty. Vaginal discharge may also be present and its color, smell and consistency may vary depending on the cause of the problem.
What are the causes of vaginal itching and discharge in children.
Common causes of vaginal itching and discharge in children include the following :
- Chemicals such as perfume and dyes in detergents , fabric softener, creams, ointments and sprays may irritate the vagina or the skin around the vagina.
- Vaginal yeast infection.
- Vaginitis : Vaginitis is common in girls before puberty. However if the child has a sexually transmitted vaginal infection , sexual abuse must be considered and addressed.
- A foreign body such as toilet paper or crayon that a little girl places in her vagina. An infection with discharge may occur if the foreign body is still present in the vagina.
- Pinworms which is a parasitic infection that mainly affects children.
How to deal with vaginal infections in children
Your child should do the following to prevent and treat vaginal infections.
- Avoid colored or perfumed toilet tissue and bubble bath.
- Use plain, unscented soap.
- Limit bath time to 15 minutes or less. Ask your child to urinate right after bath.
- Use only plain water. Do not add baking soda, colloidal oats, oats water or anything to bath water.
- Do not let soap float in bathwater. If you need to shampoo, do it at the end of the bath.
You should also teach your child to keep the genital area clean and dry. She should do the following :
- Pat the outer vagina and vulva dry rather than rubbing it with tissue. This will prevent small balls of tissue from breaking off.
- Move toilet paper from front to back (vagina to anus) after urinating or having a bowel movement.
- Wear cotton underwear. Avoid underwear made from synthetic or handmade materials.
- Avoid tight underwear and shorts.
- Change underwear everyday.
- Change out of wet clothing especially wet bathing suits or exercise clothing as soon as possible.
Do not try to take a foreign material out a child’s vagina yourself. You may end up pushing it deeper. Take the child to the healthcare provider right away for help.
When to call your healthcare professional
Call your child’s provider right away when :
- Your child complains of pelvic or lower abdominal pain or fever.
- You suspect sexual abuse
- There are blisters or ulcers on the vagina or vulva.
- Your child has painful or burning urination.
- Your child has vaginal bleeding, swelling or discharge.
- Your child’s symptoms get worse, lasts more than a week or keeps coming back.
Vulvovaginitis. The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Vulvovaginitis/. Accessed September 7th, 2018
Vulvovaginitis. About Health Kids. https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/vulvovaginitis. . Accessed September 7th, 2018