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While your child is young, the skin around the vulva (external female genital area) can be quite thin, and this can lead to it being easily irritated. Occasional itching around the vulval area is common.
Sometimes, irritation to the skin can cause pain (see our fact sheet
Vulvovaginitis). The symptoms are usually not serious and get better with simple steps you can do at home.
Thrush is very uncommon before puberty, although can be common in babies. Threadworms can also cause itching and redness around the vaginal area (see our fact sheet
There are many simple ways to reduce your child's symptoms if they have itch or irritation around the vulva. These suggestions will also help prevent symptoms from returning.
If your child's itch and irritation remain after trying the suggestions above, see your GP. Also see the GP if your child has:
How can I get my child to stop scratching?
It's hard to get a child who is feeling itchy to not scratch, but it is important to discourage scratching so they don't irritate the skin further. Try placing a cold, damp, cloth against the itchy area to relieve the itch, or give your child a vinegar bath. See your GP if nothing
seems to help.
How do I know if my child has thrush?
It is very rare for children to get thrush before they start menstruating, so vaginal or vulval itching is not likely to be thrush. Vulvovaginitis is more likely. If your child has a thick, white discharge from their vagina (with a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance and yeasty smell) then it may be thrush. If there is a discharge,
see your GP.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Dermatology department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed March 2018.
This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician.
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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.