Is your daughter frequently scratching or complaining about vaginal area irritation? Elaina Lantrip, APRN, C-PNP with Renown Health Pediatrics shares tips to prevent and relieve this common and uncomfortable concern.
Young girls have vaginal area irritation for a variety of reasons. The medical term for this is vulvovaginitis. This happens a lot in the summer due to more time in wet bathing suits. However, it can happen at any time due to poor hygiene. Often bubble baths (or soaps) cause tenderness in this sensitive area.
Supervise toilet time and teach good hygiene
Young girls who are starting to wipe by themselves may have irritation occur if not taught careful wiping techniques. This irritation often causes discomfort and itching, sometimes imitating symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
In general is most common in girls from 3 to 8 years old. It is usually the newly potty trained girls wanting independence in the bathroom. But, they don’t yet have the dexterity to wipe well from front to back. They often hop off the potty without wiping, or don’t let parents know about an accident to avoid embarrassment. These girls also LOVE bubble baths. Unfortunately, most bubble baths are very irritating to the skin. And what little girl doesn’t want to spend all day in her bathing suit during the hot summer months?
Finding relief for child vaginal area irritation
You can prevent child vaginal area irritation in these ways:
First, minimize bubble baths as much as possible. Then, wash hair and body at the end of the bath, so the child is not sitting in soapy water for a long time. Lastly, make sure they are changing out of wet suits as they are done swimming.
It’s a good idea to go over toilet hygiene with your child and monitor your until correct hygiene is established. Supervise or assist children under the age of five when they go to the bathroom. Emphasize wiping front-to-back after bowel movements. This is also a great time to remind your child to wash their hands.
If redness and irritation has already developed, zinc oxide creams such as Desitin or A&D ointment can be very helpful, as well as, having your child soak in a baking soda bath. Dr. Lantrip recommends four tablespoons of baking soda in a tub full of water. Also, a hair dryer on the cool setting helps dry the genital region after bathing. If the area is tender or swollen, a cool compresses may relieve the soreness.
Tips to prevent child vaginal area irritation:
- Encourage your child to shower after swimming.
- Avoid sleeper/onesie pajamas. Nightgowns are better as they allow air to circulate.
- Use Cotton underpants, not polyester.
- Double-rinse underwear after washing to avoid residual irritants.
- Do not use fabric softeners for underwear and swimsuits.
- Avoid tights, leotards and leggings. Skirts and loose-fitting pants allow air to circulate.
- On non-bath nights, rinse the vaginal area with warm water while she is on the potty before bedtime to remove skin irritants or urine.
If your child has a fever, is complaining of abdominal pain, having urgency to go to the bathroom or is experiencing urinary frequency, I would recommend having them seen by a medical provider to rule out a possible urinary tract infection. To find a doctor visit, renown.org/findadoc.