Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

Vaginitis in Children

What Is Vaginitis?

Vaginitis is redness, soreness, or swelling in and around the vagina. The vulva (the area around the opening of the vagina) also might be irritated.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Vaginitis?

Often, girls with vaginitis (va-jih-NYE-tiss) have:

  • itching, burning, or pain
  • redness, soreness, or swelling around the opening to the vagina
  • discharge (fluid) coming from the vagina, or stains on their underpants

What Causes Vaginitis?

Vaginitis is common in girls of all ages. Before puberty, the lining of the vagina and the skin of the vulva are very thin. Soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, tight clothing, wet diapers or swimsuits, sand, and germs can bother this area, leading to vaginitis.

Vaginitis can happen when girls don't clean themselves well after using the toilet. Getting a little piece of toilet paper or something else gets stuck in the vagina also can cause it.

How Is Vaginitis Diagnosed?

Doctors usually can diagnose vaginitis in children by doing an exam of the area with a parent or chaperone in the room and asking about symptoms. They might send a sample of the fluid for testing if the vaginitis may be due to an infection or if symptoms do not get better after treatment.

How Is Vaginitis Treated?

Most girls can treat vaginitis with sitz baths. To do this, girls should:

  • Sit in a tub of plain (not soapy) warm water.
  • Spread their legs so the water cleans the vaginal area.
  • Soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Pat the vaginal area dry with a clean towel.

They also should avoid irritating soaps, chemicals, and tight-fitting clothing.

Can Vaginitis Be Prevented?

These bathing tips can help the irritation get better and protect girls from getting vaginitis again:

  • Don't use bubble bath.
  • Don't use soap in the vaginal area.
  • Use soap and shampoo at the end of the bath and don't sit in water with soap or shampoo in it.
  • Rinse the vaginal area off with plain water at the end of the shower or bath.

Other things to help prevent vaginitis:

  • Avoid tight clothing such as tights, leotards, and leggings.
  • Don't sit in a wet swimsuit for long periods for time.
  • Wear white cotton underpants.
  • Wash underpants with a mild detergent without fabric softener, rinse twice to get all the soap out, and dry without dryer sheets.
  • Sleep in a nightgown or loose pajama pants without underpants so air can move freely around the vaginal area during sleep.
  • Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement.

What Else Should I Know?

Poor hygiene and irritation are the most common reasons girls get vaginitis. But sometimes it can be a sign of:

Doctors will prescribe medicine to treat specific vaginal infections. If they find an STD, they will report suspected abuse to the local child protection agency.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date Reviewed: 01-02-2020

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.