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Vulvovaginitis in Children


Vulvovaginitis is an infection of the vulva (outer genitals) and vagina. The most common cause is bacteria, a virus, a fungus, or pinworms. Vulvovaginitis is common in girls who have not reached puberty. Before puberty, girls do not have pubic hair to prevent germs from entering the vagina. Abnormal vaginal development can also cause vulvovaginitis. Signs and symptoms include itching, burning, redness, swelling, or rash on your child's vulva or in her vagina. There may also be a discharge, bleeding, and an odor.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child's vagina has a bloody discharge.
  • Your child's vagina begins to bleed and it is not her monthly period.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's symptoms get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child may need to see a pediatric gynecologist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during her visits.

Help your child manage her symptoms:

  • Have your child soak in clean, warm bath water or a sitz bath. Your child should do this for 15 minutes, at least 2 times each day. This will help clean the area and ease her symptoms. Do not add any bubble bath or shampoo to the water. Pat the area dry. Do not rub.
  • Do not let your child use scented, deodorant, or antibacterial soaps, washes, or powders. These change the natural pH of your child's vagina and can cause irritation.
  • Apply barriers to the area. Examples include diaper rash ointment or petroleum jelly. This will decrease pain when she urinates.
  • Have your child eat a variety of healthy foods to prevent constipation. Constipation can make symptoms worse. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if your child needs to be on a special diet.

Help your child prevent vulvovaginitis:

Have your child do the following:

  • Bathe daily. Use a mild soap and pat the area dry or let it air dry.
  • Clean the vaginal area properly. Wipe from front to back after she urinates or has a bowel movement. Wash the area after a bowel movement, if necessary. Pat the area dry after cleaning.
  • Wear cotton underwear during the day. Cotton allows air to flow to the area and pulls away moisture. Do not wear any underwear at night.
  • Do not wear tight pants, swim suits, or leotards for long periods of time. Tight clothes can rub and irritate her genital area.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your child's risk increases if she is overweight. Ask her healthcare provider how much she should weigh. Ask him to help create a weight loss plan if she is overweight.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Vulvovaginitis in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex