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.
Apply small amount of 1% hydrocortisone cream (no prescription needed) to the genital area after soaks for 1 or 2 days.
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.
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.