Kids Health Info

Vulvovaginitis

  • Pronounced: Vul-vo-vaj-ee-night-is

    Vulvovaginitis is inflammation or irritation of the vagina and vulva (the opening of the vagina).
    Mild vulvovaginitis is a very common problem in young girls. It will affect most girls at some stage. Some girls will have vulvovaginitis many times. As girls begin to develop breasts, their vuvlovaginitis usually gets better.

    In most girls vulvovaginitis is not a serious problem and it will usually improve with simple steps. In most cases no treatment or tests are needed.

    Signs and symptons

    Girls with vulvovaginitis often have:

    • Itching in the vaginal area
    • Some discharge from the vagina
    • Redness of the skin between the labia majora (outside lips of the vagina)
    • Burning or stinging when they pass urine

    Causes

    The things that may cause vulvovaginitis are:

    • The lining of the vagina and vulva can be quite thin in young girls and this can lead to it being easily irritated.
    • Moisture / dampness around the vulva. This is made worse by tight clothing and obesity.
    • Irritants (soap residue, bubble baths, antiseptics etc).

    Threadworms sometimes cause or worsen vulvovaginitis. Children with threadworms often scratch a lot at night. If itching is a major symptom then your daughter's doctor may suggest you look for threadworms.

    Treatment

    • In most mild cases, no treatment or tests are needed.
    • In cases where it is troublesome, the doctor may advise a swab of the area be taken for testing, but the results are not always helpful.
    • If you child has a more severe cases of vulvovaginitis, blood stained discharge, or other skin problems she may be referred to a paediatrician or other specialist for further management.

    Care at home

    Firstly try not to worry, this is a common problem and a normal part of growing up for many girls.

    Try avoiding the things that make vulvovaginitis worse:

    • Wear loose cotton underwear and avoid tight trousers/jeans etc.
    • Look at your child's weight and get some advice if she is overweight for her age and height.
    • Don't use a lot of soap in the bath/shower and make sure it is well rinsed from the vulva. Avoid bubble baths and antiseptics in the bath.

    Some people find vinegar baths helpful (add 1/2 cup white vinegar to a shallow bath and soak for 10 to 15 minutes). Do this daily for a few days and see if it helps your daughter.

    Soothing creams (eg soft paraffin, nappy rash creams) may help settle the soreness, waterproof and protect the skin from the discharge which can be irritating.

    You may have to repeat these simple measures if the problem comes back.

    Key points to remember

    • Mild vulvovaginitis is a very common problem in young girls.
    • It may recur now and then but will improve as your child gets older.
    • In most mild cases, no treatment or tests are necessary.

    For more information




    Developed in consultation with the RCH Depts of General Medicine and Gynaecology.  First published Aug 2003.  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.