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What is Vulvovaginitis?

Vulvovaginitis is a condition that affects the vagina or the outer genital area (the vulva). A young girl with vulvovaginitis may experience redness, soreness, burning, itching, or vaginal discharge. While it may be upsetting, the condition is not serious and will not affect future reproduction.

What causes Vulvovaginitis?

Young girls do not yet have pubic hair or fatty labia for protection so the vulva is readily irritated. Your child lacks estrogen to defend her reproductive tract so the pH of the vagina is high, which can be place for bacteria to grow. There are many possible causes of vulvovaginitis. The most common are:

  • Irritation of the genital area, due to soaps, detergents, chemicals (chlorine, bubble bath), poor hygiene practices, and tight clothing
  • Infections, for example with bacteria such as strep or from the anus
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema

See a health care clinician who can find out the cause of the problem.

Prevention and treatment

  1. Teach good hygiene
  • Wash hands before and after toileting.
  • Wipe from front to back after urinating- consider using wipes or damp gauze.
  • Urinate with knees spread apart while leaning forward and stay seated on the toilet until finished urinating to allow all the urine to come out.
  • Take a bath (not a shower) every day. Soak in a frog-leg position in a tub of plain water for 10 to15 minutes daily.
  • Avoid constipation.
  1. Avoid irritation
  • Wear white cotton underwear and avoid wearing underwear at night.
  • Avoid harsh laundry detergents and make sure underwear is rinsed thoroughly. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
  • Do not use bubble bath or add anything else to bath water unless prescribed by your doctor.
  • Use a mild, hypoallergenic bar cleanser, such as unscented Dove®. Avoid deodorant soaps.
  • Make sure all cleansers are washed off after bathing, and do not allow cleansers or shampoo to float around in the bathtub.
  • Avoid tight jeans or pants, and tights.
  • Avoid sitting in a wet bathing suit after swimming – rinse off after swimming and change as soon as possible into
    dry clothing.

Genital area of a young girl


After treatment

  • Go to the follow-up appointment, even if the symptoms are better. We want to be sure you are better.
  • Continue baths and focus on appropriate vulvar care.

Call the office if your child has any of the following:

  • Your child’s symptoms are not getting better.
  • You notice vaginal bleeding.
  • Your child has pain or burning when urinating, and is urinating more often.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
  • Symptoms return.

Specific treatments for your child’s condition (follow only if directed by your provider):

Topical creams/ointments:

____  Clindamycin cream/Metronidazole Gel

____  Steroid ointment

Antibacterial solution:

____  Add ¼ cup Hibiclens® liquid soap to bath water 1 to 2 times a week. Rinse off with fresh water.

____  Bleach bath recipe for skin conditions: Add ¼ cup concentrated household beach (~8% sodium hypochlorite) or ½ cup of common household bleach (~6% sodium hypochlorite) to a bathtub full of water. Soak the affected part of the skin for about 10 minutes. Limit diluted bleach baths to no more than twice a week. Do not submerge head and be very careful to avoid getting the diluted bleach into eyes. Rinse off with fresh water.


This information is general and not specific to your child. If you have questions, please contact your health care professional.

Reviewed by GYN 1/2018

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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