When kids complain of sore genitals is can be a major concern for parents.
For young girls, there are a number of reasons why your child may be complaining of discomfort in this region which may include itchiness, redness or pain/stinging when passing urine. The skin in this area is extremely sensitive and can be easily irritated. Reassuringly, mostly these causes aren’t serious and resolve after simple treatments.
Vulvovaginitis is the word used to describe this condition which essentially means inflammation of the vulva (external) and vagina (internal).
Causes of vulvovaginitis can include:
- Irritation caused from friction (e.g. sand, tight clothing).
- Irritation from chemical irritants such as soap, bubble baths, washing detergents, scented toilet paper.
- Trapped moisture around the vulva from tight clothing, wet swimmers or mild incontinence.
- Poor hygiene practices – particles of toilet paper, faeces or dirt can get trapped in the area if not cleaned properly.
- Threadworms – small intestinal parasite that lays its eggs around the anus. They visible as thin white threads around a child’s bottom at night.
- Thrush, a fungal infection which is rare in prepubescent girls characterised by a lumpy yellowish discharge.
Note: Stinging or burning when passing urine can also be a sign of a urinary tract infection.
To treat vulvovaginitis caused by irritants you can:
- Avoiding prolonged time in wet swimmers
- Stick to cotton underwear and loose clothing that allows air circulation
- Teach your daughter how to properly clean the area with clean water only, it is also recommended to rinse immediately after swimming, time at the beach or in the sandpit
- Switch to low irritant washing detergents and toilet paper.
If your child has signs of threadworm you can easily treat this by using an over the counter worming medicine. It is also recommended you wash all clothing and bedding in hot water.
If your child has signs of thrush you can also get a treatment over the counter.
However, if you have any concerns about the severity of your child’s condition or it does not resolve seek the advice of your GP.