Should Your Child See a Doctor?
Vaginal Itching or Irritation
- Genital area burning or itching in young girls
- No pain or burning with urination
- Main cause in young girls: a soap irritation of the vulva or outer vagina (soap vulvitis) from bubble bath, shampoo or other soap.
- Soap vulvitis occurs exclusively prior to puberty.
- Occasionally, it is due to poor hygiene or back-to-front wiping.
- If the vagina becomes secondarily infected, a vaginal discharge will occur.
When to Call Your Doctor for Vaginal Itching or Irritation
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Could be from sexual abuse
- Vaginal bleeding
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Vaginal discharge
- Fever is present
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
- Over age 10 (reason: soap vulvitis is unusual)
- Vaginal irritation persists on treatment over 2 days
Parent Care at Home If
- Probable soap vulvitis and you don't think your child needs to be seen
Home Care Advice for Soap Vulvitis
- Soap (especially bubble bath) is the most common cause of genital itching in young girls.
- The vulva is very sensitive to the drying effect of soap.
- After puberty, soap can be tolerated.
- Baking Soda-Warm Water Soaks:
- Soak for 20 minutes to remove irritants and to promote healing.
- Add 2 ounces (60 ml) baking soda per tub of warm water (Reason: Baking soda is better than vinegar for girls not into puberty).
- During soaks, be sure she spreads her legs and allows the water to cleanse the genital area.
- Repeat baking soda soaks treatment 2 times per day for 2 days.
- Steroid Cream: Apply small amount of 1% hydrocortisone cream (no prescription needed) to the genital area after soaks for 1 or 2 days.
- Avoid Soaps: Avoid bubble bath, soap and shampoo to the vulva because they are irritants. Only use warm water to cleanse the vulva or baby oil to remove secretions.
- Expected Course: If the symptoms are due to soap vulvitis, they should all clear within 1 to 2 days with proper treatment.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Irritation persists on treatment over 48 hours
- Vaginal discharge or bleeding occurs
- Passing urine becomes painful
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "When to Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 8/1/2010
Last Revised: 9/23/2010 2:12:17 PM
Copyright 1994-2011 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.