Kids Health Info

Vulval skin care for girls

  • Vulval skin care for symptomatic young girls

    Occasional episodes of itching around the vulval (genital) area can be common in young girls. Irritation to the skin can cause pain - see the factsheet on Vulvovaginitis. The symptoms are usually not serious and improve naturally.

    Mothers often attribute these symptoms to a 'thrush' infection. However 'thrush' is very uncommon in young (premenstrual) women. If treatment for 'thrush' does not work, the mother/girl may try many other treatments. It can be very disheartening when these also do not work.  

    You can try the following to help reduce a child's symptoms. If after trying these suggestions symptoms continue, please see your family doctor.

    Clothing and laundry

    • Wear all white cotton underwear and loose fitting pants or skirts
    • Do not wear tights
    • Ensure that underwear and any other clothing that comes into contact with the vulva is rinsed well
    • Do not use fabric softener on undergarments

    Hygiene

    • DO NOT OVERWASH THE AREA. Treat skin of genital area very gently.
    • While there are symptoms, do not use soap for washing. Alternatives include Cetaphil cleanser, Dermaveen, Hamilton's, QV or Sorbolene.
    • When the symptoms have improved, washing with plain water may be enough for good hygiene.
    • Do not use bubble bath or perfumed soaps or creams.
    • Avoid getting shampoo on the vulval area.
    • Try vinegar baths to prevent recurrent superficial infection. (1 cup of vinegar in a bath deep enough to cover the hips - or enough vinegar that the flavour can be tasted). Splash the vinegar bathwater vigorously around the area. Kicking the legs and doing 'ballet'' to encourage the legs to be opened wide and closed allows the water to flow deeper into the genital tract to help make the treatment more effective. These can be as often as two times a day or can be less often such as weekly depending upon how uncomfortable the symptoms are.
    • Urinate (pee) before the bladder is full, avoid 'hanging on' and rinse the vulva with water after urinating.
    • Use soft, white, unscented toilet paper.

    Physical activities

    • Avoid activities that put direct pressure on the vulva, such as bicycle riding or horseback riding.
    • Limit intense exercises that create a lot of friction in the vulval area (encourage exercises such as walking).
    • Remove exercise clothing promptly.
    • Use a frozen gel pack wrapped in a towel to relieve symptoms after exercise.
    • Use a soft cloth such as chux (soaked in a bowl with cool water and your soap substitute) and apply to the vulval area to help relieve the itch.
    • Avoid hot tubs / hot baths.
    • Do not swim in highly chlorinated pools.
    • Remove wet bathing suits promptly.

    Everyday hints

    • Avoid long periods of sitting. Try standing or walking.

    Important points on the use of medication

    • Only use medication, on the genitals, that has been prescribed for this area because the skin is more sensitive than other skin.

    For more information

    Key points to remember

    • Occasional itching around the vulval area can be common in girls. Thrush is very uncommon in pre-pubescent girls.
    • Genital skin is very delicate and needs to be treated gently. Avoid bubble bath or perfumed soaps and creams.
    • Try to prevent scratching if the area is itchy - try cool compresses or vinegar baths.

    Developed by the RCH Dermatology Department. First published in March 2007. Updated November 2010.

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Disclaimer 
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.