Vaginal itching? Vaginitis can affect young girls too

If you’re female, chances are you’ve had — or will have — vaginal itching at some point in your life. This itching that comes with swelling, burning and sometimes milky discharge also can affect young girls.

“In younger girls, we often see vaginitis caused by soaps, detergents, nonbreathable underwear and poor hygiene,” said Audra Campbell, APRN, Norton Children’s Gynecology. “These things all disturb the natural balance of the vagina, causing so-called ‘bad’ bacteria to grow and cause problems.

“Many people think that vaginitis is only caused by sexual intercourse, but that’s not the case.”

Vaginitis symptoms

  • Itching or irritation around the vagina
  • Unusual discharge — usually slightly milky
  • Redness and swelling
  • Unusual odor (sometimes)

Vaginitis treatment and prevention

Make an appointment

Schedule an appointment with a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist.

“Most times vaginitis in girls can be treated by teaching better hygiene and even applying some Vaseline or other barrier that protects the thin, sensitive skin around the vagina,” Campbell said. “In some cases, a steroid cream or even antibiotic may be needed.

“The best thing you can do is work to prevent the irritation.”

To prevent vaginitis, your daughter should:

  • Wash her vaginal area well, using a gentle soap. Also rinse well and dry.
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid wearing tight pants
  • Avoid bubble baths and perfumed soaps
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet and be sure she has cleaned the area completely

If your daughter is still experiencing symptoms of vaginitis after a few days, she should see a physician to rule out other issues, such as a yeast infection.


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