“My daughter has been having a burning, itching, red vagina for about a year not. I wondered if it was caused by scrubbing her too much in the bath and we tried having her wash herself. Even with this, the redness is getting worse. We are no longer bathing her every single day at the recommendation of the doctor. Baths and soaps can cause vaginal irritation, but her baths are still causing burning. We also thought that maybe the soap wasn’t getting rinsed off. I just looked again and the inner part of her vagina is completely red and burning during her bath. We are not using bubble bath anymore, wash her hair in the shower and feel like we have exhausted all of our options. I really don’t understand what to do for kids’ vagina sore and red episodes.”
There are many different conditions that can cause your baby's vagina to be sore and red like vaginal infections in kids. Listed below are a few of the most common conditions, symptoms and how they are treated.
What Causes My Kid's Vagina to Be Sore and Red?
What is it: When little girls complain of itching and soreness in the vaginal area, it may be Vulvovaginitis. This is when the vulva and vagina become inflamed. It can happen at any time, but most common is school-age girls. It is not associated with sexual activity in school-age girls. Actually the lack of pubic hair to protect the delicate vulva leaves it open to irritants such as soaps, shampoo, bubble bath and clothing. Foreign objects like toilet paper can also cause a problem.
Symptoms: At first, your daughter may be very itchy and scratch at herself. You may notice that she sits differently or walks funny. Later on, she will begin to feel pain and irritation. If you look at the area, you will notice redness and maybe even some swelling. There may be some discharge in your daughter’s underwear and appear yellow, green or brown. It may have a foul odor and sometimes even contain a little blood. She may complain of burning with urination and most often, you may think she has a urinary tract infection because of this.
Treatments and remedies: If your daughter has any of the above symptoms, make an appointment to see her pediatrician. You will need to let the doctor know about all of the symptoms, bathing habits, clothing choices and toileting habits. Then, the doctor may ask you to remove your daughter’s underwear and take a look at the area. Be there to hold her hand as this can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for a child.
A swab may be taken to test for the type of bacteria causing the issue. If there is a vaginal infection, antibiotics are usually prescribed. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do at home for relief:
- Remove any irritating substances. No bubble baths, do not wash your daughter’s hair in the bathtub, and use only soft cotton underwear. Do not use scented or colored toilet paper.
- Change bathing habits. Offer cool washcloths to apply to the area, give warm baths with Epsom salts, and teach your daughter to wipe well from front to back.
Finally, her doctor may recommend a steroid cream or even an antibiotic cream to help with external inflammation and infection.
2. Yeast Infections
What is it: A yeast infection is actually not an infection, but an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. They are caused by a disruption in the pH balance of the body and loss of “good bacteria” that keep yeast organisms in check. They tend to be more prevalent in the warmer and moist areas on the body. It is estimated that 75% of girls will suffer from yeast infections.
Symptoms: The symptoms of vaginal yeast infections tend to be similar to other vaginal infections like burning with urination, redness, and itching. There is a discharge that tends to be thick and “cottage cheese-like.”
Treatments and remedies: If this is the first time your daughter has experienced the above symptoms, don’t treat the infection until she has seen her doctor. The doctor will be able to tell if this is a classic yeast infection and will prescribe the proper medications. It is important to rule out either a urinary tract infection or bacterial infection first.
- Medical products. Yeast infection treatments consist of creams that are inserted into the vagina, external creams, pills to take by mouth or suppositories. Make sure you keep the area clean and very dry. Use only cotton underwear. Consult the pediatrician before using any medical products.
- Change the diet. If your daughter continues to suffer from frequent yeast infections, it could be connected to her diet. Too much sugar can “feed” the yeast and cause it to continually grow in the body. If you allow her to eat too much fruit, the sugar in the fruit can make yeast infections worse. Try eliminating most fruits from the diet for a week and see if the infections clear up. There are some low-sugar fruits that will not make them worse such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
3. Use of Soap or Poor Personal Hygiene
Using too much or too strong of a soap to the genital area in little girls can cause irritation, itching and redness. This is usually bubble bath or shampoo that gets into the bath water. It can also be caused by poor personal hygiene in the genital area. The area around the vulva is very fragile before the hormones of puberty set in and can become easily infected with vaginal discharge. This is most common before the onset of puberty.
4. Bacterial Vaginitis
What is it: This is a very mild vaginal bacterial infection. It can be sexually transmitted, but girls do not have to be sexually active to get BV. It is most often caused by an imbalance in the vaginal flora when there is more “bad” bacteria than “good”. While this is a mild infection, it still needs to be treated with antibiotics to prevent complications.
Symptoms: Bacterial vaginitis may not have any symptoms at all. Symptoms include foul odor (fishy), grey discharge, burning urination and itching.
Treatments and remedies: Bacterial vaginitis is treated with antibiotics and it may take more than one round to get rid of it completely. Your daughter will need to take the full course in order to feel better.