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Vaginal Itching or Irritation

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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.

If not, see these topics


When to Call Your Doctor

call now

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 within 24 hours

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

call within 24 hours

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

home care

Parent Care at Home If

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



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Expected Course: If the symptoms are due to soap vulvitis, they should all clear within 1 to 2 days with proper treatment.

  6. 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.

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