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Vulvovaginitis In Children


What is vulvovaginitis?

Vulvovaginitis is an infection of the vulva (outer genitals) and vagina. It is common in girls who have not reached puberty. Before puberty, girls do not have pubic hair to prevent germs from entering the vaginal area. Your daughter may have itching, burning, redness, swelling, or rash on her vulva or in her vagina. There may also be a discharge, bleeding, and an odor.

What are common causes of vulvovaginitis?

  • Infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses
  • Pinworms
  • Abnormal vaginal development

What increases my child's risk for vulvovaginitis?

  • Poor cleaning and hand washing after she urinates or has a bowel movement
  • Bubble baths or use of scented soap
  • Tight fitting clothing
  • Obesity
  • Material such as toilet paper or soap trapped in the vagina

How is vulvovaginitis diagnosed and treated?

Your daughter's healthcare provider may examine her genital area. If there is a discharge, he will send a sample to the lab. He may also test your daughter's urine. She may need to see a pediatric gynecologist if the symptoms continue. Treatment depends on the cause. She may need to soak in warm water several times in a day. Her healthcare provider may suggest a low-dose steroid cream to stop the itching. She may need an antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral medicine.

How can my daughter's symptoms be managed?

Help your daughter do the following:

  • Soak in clean, warm bath water for 15 minutes at least twice a day. This will help clean the area. Do not add any bubble bath or shampoo to the water. Pat the area dry. Do not rub.
  • Do not use scented, deodorant, or antibacterial soaps, washes, or powders. These change the natural pH of your daughter'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.
  • 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 daughter needs to be on a special diet.

How can vulvovaginitis be prevented?

Have your daughter do the following:

  • Bathe daily. Use a mild soap and pat the area 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 daughter'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.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your daughter has a fever.
  • Your daughter's vagina begins to bleed or has a bloody discharge.

When should I contact my daughter's healthcare provider?

  • Her symptoms get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about her condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. 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 Truven Health Analytics.