Vaginal Irritation and Itching

Most vaginal itching or discomfort is due to a chemical irritation of the vulva or outer vagina.  The usual irritants are bubble bath, shampoo, or soap left on the genital area.  Occasionally, it is due to poor hygiene.  This irritation almost always occurs before puberty.  At that age, the lining of the vulva is very thin and sensitive.  If the vagina becomes infected, there will be a vaginal discharge.  The common features of  vaginitis are:

  • Pain, soreness, burning, or itching in genital area
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Uses bubble bath, bathes in soapy water, or washes genitals with soap
  • Prepubertal girl

Home Care 

Baking Soda – Warm Water Soaks.  Have your daughter soak her bottom in a basin or bathtub of warm water with baking soda for 20 minutes.  Add 4-8 tablespoon of baking soda per tub of warm water.  Be sure she spreads her legs and allows the water to cleanse the genital area.  No soap should be used.  Repeat this every 4 hours while your daughter is awake for the next 2 days.  After symptoms resolve, cleanse the genital area once a day with warm water.

Hydrocortisone Cream.  Apply 1% of hydrocortisone cream (a nonprescription item) to the genital

area after soaks.

Prevention of Recurrences. 

  • Don’t use bubble bath before puberty because it’s extremely irritating.  Don’t put any other soaps or shampoo into the bath water.  Don’t let a bar of soap float in the bathtub.  Wash the genital area with plain water, not soap.  If necessary, use baby oil to remove secretions from between the labia.  If you are going to shampoo your child’s hair, do this at the end of the bath.  use a squirt bottle with warm tap water to rinse between her legs after shampooing.
  • Keep bath time less than 15 minutes. Have your child urinate immediately after baths.
  • Have your child wear cotton underpants.  Underpants made of synthetic fibers don’t allow the skin to “breathe.”  Discourage wearing underpants during the night so the genital area has a chance to “air out.”
  • Teach your daughter to wipe herself correctly from front to back, especially after a bowel movement.
  • Encourage her to drink enough fluids each day to keep the urine light-colored.  Concentrated urine can be an irritant.

Call our office during regular hours if . . . 

  • The itching is not gone after 48 hours of treatment.
  • A vaginal discharge or bleeding occurs.
  • Passing urine becomes increasingly painful.
  • Your child develops a fever or vomiting.
  • You have other concerns or questions.