Swedish Kids Symptom Checker

Swedish Kids Symptom Checker

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Vaginal Itching or Irritation

1. Does this describe your child's symptoms?


  • Genital area burning or itching in young girls
  • No pain or burning with urination


  • Main cause in young girls: a soap irritation of the vulva or outer vagina (soap vulvitis) from bubble bath, shampoo or other soap
  • Soap vulvitis occurs exclusively prior to puberty.
  • Occasionally, it is due to poor hygiene or back to front wiping.
  • If the vagina becomes secondarily infected, a vaginal discharge will occur.

2. When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Could be from sexual abuse
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Over age 10 (reason: soap vulvitis is unusual)
  • Vaginal irritation persists on treatment over 2 days
  • Vaginal itching is a recurrent problem

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Fever is present

Parent Care at Home If

  • Probable soap vulvitis and you don't think your child needs to be seen


  • Reassurance:
    • Soap (especially bubble bath) is the most common cause of genital itching in young girls.
    • The vulva is very sensitive to the drying effect of soap.
    • Only cleanse the genital area with warm water.
    • After puberty, soap can be tolerated.
  • Baking Soda-Warm Water Soaks:  
    • Soak for 10 minutes to remove irritants and to promote healing.
    • Add 2 ounces (60 ml) baking soda per tub of warm water (Reason: Baking soda is better than vinegar for girls not into puberty).
    • During soaks, be sure she spreads her legs and allows the water to cleanse the genital area.
    • Repeat baking soda soaks treatment 2 times per day for 2 days.
  • Steroid Cream:  Apply a tiny amount of 1% hydrocortisone cream (no prescription needed) to the genital area after soaks for 1 or 2 days. Avoid continued use.
  • Avoid Soaps:
    • Avoid bubble bath, soap and shampoo to the genital area because they are irritants.
    • Only use warm water to cleanse the vulva.
    • Baby oil can be used to remove any dried secretions from the labia.
  • Expected Course: If the symptoms are due to soap vulvitis, they should all clear within 1 to 2 days with proper treatment.
  • Call Your Doctor If:
    • Irritation persists on treatment over 48 hours
    • Vaginal discharge or bleeding occurs
    • Passing urine becomes painful
    • Your child becomes worse
  • And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.


  • This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
  • Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
  • Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011 12:00:00 AM
  • Last Revised: 8/1/2011 3:34:45 PM
  • Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
  • Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
If this is an emergency call 911 immediately.

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Swedish Kids Symptom Checker is designed especially for these times. The interactive iPhone application can help you make appropriate decisions on what level of care, if any, is needed and how to provide symptom relief for minor illnesses and injuries you can manage on your own.

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