Chelsea Wicks, MD, pediatrician, Renown Medical Group
It is not uncommon for young girls to get irritation and redness in their vaginal areas for a variety of different reasons. The medical term for this is vulvovaginitis. This time of year, I see it often because of prolonged time in wet bathing suits. It can happen any time of year though due to poor hygiene or because of irritation caused by bubble bath or soaps on the skin in this sensitive area. This irritation can often cause discomfort and itching and sometimes can mimic symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
The most common age group that I see is girls from about 3 to 8 years old. It is usually the little girls that are just potty trained and now want independence in the bathroom. But, they just don’t quite have the dexterity to wipe well from front to back. These girls also LOVE bubble baths. Unfortunately, most of the bubbles are very irritating to the skin in that area. And what little girl doesn’t want to spend all day in her bathing suit during the hot summer months?
My recommendation to prevent this irritation is to minimize bubble baths as much as possible, wash hair and body at the end of the bath so the child is not soaking in the soap for a prolonged period of time and to make sure they are changing out of their wet suits as soon as possible once swim/play time is over. Dry, clean cotton panties are the best thing to change in to. If the redness and irritation has already developed, zinc oxide creams such as Desitin can be very helpful, as well as having the child soak in a baking soda bath. I usually recommend about four tablespoons of baking soda in a tub full of water.
If the child has a fever, is complaining of abdominal pain, having urgency to go to the bathroom or is experiencing urinary frequency, I would recommend having them seen by a medical provider to rule out a possible urinary tract infection. To find a doctor visit, renown.org/findadoc.