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12/13/23 blog post

when to be concerned about vaginal swelling

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in this article:

Vaginitis is a common condition when a girl's vaginal and vulvar area becomes swollen, red or sore. Usually, vaginitis is not a cause for concern, but in some cases, it may be important to seek medical attention. We asked pediatric urologist, Dr. Christopher Brown, to give insight into the different types of vaginitis, treatment options and when to seek medical attention.

what are the signs and symptoms of vaginitis?

If your child has vaginitis, she may experience the following symptoms:

  • Itching, burning or pain in the vaginal area
  • Redness, soreness or swelling around the opening of the vagina
  • Vagnial discharge, sometimes containing blood
  • Pain or burning when peeing

what causes vaginitis?

Vaginitis is especially common in girls before puberty because the lining of their vagina and the skin of the vulva are very thin. Irritants like soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, tight clothes, wet diapers or swimsuits, and sand can bother this area.

Vaginitis can also happen when girls do not clean themselves well enough after going to the bathroom.

In some cases, vaginitis can be a sign of an infection such as pinworms, yeast infection, strep or a sexually transmitted disease.

how is vaginitis treated?

The best way to treat vaginitis at home is to improve your child's hygiene with a sitz bath. If the vaginitis is caused by an infection, you will need to make an appointment with their primary care provider to they can prescribe medicine.

To give your child a sitz bath, have her sit in a tub of plain, warm water. Do not use soap. Have her spread her legs so the water cleans the vaginal area for about 10 to 15 minutes. After the bath, pat the vaginal area dry with a clean towel.

Remember to avoid irritating soaps, detergents and tight-fitting clothing.

when should I seek medical attention for my child?

If your child's vagina is not clearing up with the simple hygiene tips mentioned above, there may be an infection or something else that requires medical attention.

  1. Severe or persistent symptoms: If your child's itching, burning pain or discomfort in the vaginal area does not improve within a few days, call their primary care provider.
  2. Unusual discharge or bleeding: If discharge is gray, green or bloody, or there is bleeding in the vaginal area have your child evaluated by their primary care provider. This could be a sign of an infection.
  3. Reoccurring infections: Vaginitis that reoccurs four or more times in a year, may be a sign of an underlying problem that needs a medical evaluation and treatment.
  4. Fever or abdominal pain: Fever and abdominal pain that happens during vaginitis could mean your child has an infection or a complication that needs immediate attention.

If it is recommended that your child be seen by a specialist in urology, you can schedule an appointment online.

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Christopher Brown, MD

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