Vaginal Itching or Irritation  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Genital itching or burning in young girls (before puberty)
  • No pain or burning when passing urine

If not, see these topics
When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Could be from sexual abuse
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Fever is present
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Puberty has started (Reason: Soap vulvitis is not the cause)
  • Vaginal itching lasts more than 2 days using this care advice
  • Vaginal itching is a frequent problem
Parent Care at Home If
  • Soap vulvitis suspected
Causes & Health Information

Cause

  • Main Cause in Young Girls.  Bubble bath, shampoo or soap in bath water. Soap can cause the genital area to become red, sore or itchy.  This is called “soap vulvitis”.  Using a soapy washcloth can also be the cause.
  • This only occurs in young girls before puberty. Breast buds are the first sign of puberty. The average onset of puberty is 10 years.
  • Sometimes, it is due to poor hygiene or back to front wiping.
  • If the vagina becomes infected, a vaginal discharge will occur.
CARE ADVICE FOR SOAP VULVITIS

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Genital itching in young girls is most often caused by soap (especially bubble bath). This area is sensitive to the drying effect of soap.
    • Only cleanse the genitals with warm water.
    • After puberty, soap can be tolerated.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Baking Soda Baths - Young Girls Only:
    • Soak for 10 minutes to remove germs and to help with healing.
    • Add 2 ounces (60 ml) baking soda per tub of warm water.
    • Reason: Baking soda is better than vinegar for young girls.
    • During soaks, be sure she spreads her legs. This allows the water to cleanse the genitals.
    • Repeat baking soda soaks 2 times per day for 2 days.
  3. Steroid Cream:
    • Put a tiny amount of 1% hydrocortisone cream on the genitals.
    • No prescription is needed.
    • Use after soaks for 1 or 2 days. Do not use more than 2 days.
  4. Prevention - Do Not Use Soaps:
    • Do not use bubble bath, soap and shampoo in the bath water. They can cause the genitals to be red, sore or itchy.
    • Only use warm water to cleanse the genitals.
    • Baby oil can be used to remove any dried body fluids.
    • After puberty, soap can be used.
  5. What to Expect:
    • If soap is the cause, symptoms should go away within 2 days.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Itching lasts over 48 hours using this care advice
    • 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 "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended 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: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.