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Vulvitis (Caused by Soap): Brief Version

What is vulvitis?

Vulvitis is when the area around your daughter's vagina is irritated. The main symptom is itching around the vagina. She may also have pain. This is caused most often by bubble bath, shampoo, or soap left on the outer vagina.

How can I take care of my child?

If your daughter's vagina is irritated, these steps can help:

  • Have her soak her bottom in a basin or bathtub of warm water for 10 minutes.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of baking soda to the warm water.
  • Do not use soap.
  • Have her soak twice a day for 2 days.
  • Put a tiny amount of 1% hydrocortisone cream on the vagina after she soaks. (You can get this from the drug store.) Do this for 2 days, then stop using it.

This will help her heal. From then on, clean the vagina once a day with warm water.

How can I help prevent this problem?

Here are some ways to help keep this from happening again:

  • Only cleanse the genital area with warm water in young girls until they reach puberty (soap is not needed).
  • Do not use bubble bath or put any other soaps into the bath water.
  • Wait to shampoo until the end of the bath.
  • Keep bath time less than 10 minutes and have her urinate right after the bath.
  • Have her wear cotton underpants.

Call all your child's doctor if:

  • The itching is not gone after 2 days.
  • There is a vaginal discharge or bleeding.
  • Passing urine becomes painful.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-06-07
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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