Vaginitis In Children: Causes, Symptoms And Ways To Treat It

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Alterations in normal vaginal microbiome or infections may cause vaginitis in children. It causes inflammation of the vagina and may result in pain, itching, and discharge. In addition, some children may have vulvovaginitis, where the vulvar area is inflamed with the vagina. It is a common condition in girls of prepubertal age.

Sometimes, poor skills and knowledge about maintaining vaginal hygiene and wiping in the wrong direction after bowel movements can cause vaginitis in younger girls. Thus, teaching personal hygiene measures, including vaginal hygiene, may help prevent vaginitis in girls.

Read on to know the types, risk factors, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of vaginitis in children.

Types Of Vaginitis In Children

Vaginitis can be of the following types.

  • Bacterial vaginosis happens due to changes in the normal vaginal bacteria and overgrowth of other bacteria in the vagina.
  • Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted parasitic infection usually seen in teenagers.

You may consult a pediatrician since the treatment may vary depending on the type of vaginitis.

Causes Of Vaginitis In Children

The causes may vary depending on the type of vaginitis. The following risk factors may disturb the balance of vaginal microbes, thus increasing the risk of vaginitis (1).

  • Perfumed soaps
  • Scented detergents
  • Tissue paper
  • Medications, such as steroids and antibiotics
  • Damp or tight clothing
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal changes
  • Smoking
  • Sexually active

Sexual abuse could also be a reason for vaginitis. However, girls without any sexual activity can also develop vaginitis. Speak to your child to ascertain the exact cause before jumping to conclusions.

Symptoms And Signs Of Vaginitis In Children

The following signs and symptoms are usually seen in vaginitis (2).

  • Vaginal irritation
  • Itching
  • Pain during urination
  • Vaginal discharge often with changes in its color and amount
  • Vaginal spotting or light bleeding
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Burning sensation
  • Fishy smell from the affected area

Color and amount of vaginal discharge may indicate the type of vaginitis. You may notice the following characteristic of vaginal discharge.

  • Bacterial vaginosis causes greyish-white discharge with a foul-smelling or fishy odor.
  • Yeast infection causes thick white discharge resembling cottage cheese accompanied by severe itchiness.
  • Trichomoniasis causes a greenish-yellow discharge that can often be frothy.

Consult a pediatrician if your daughter has any of the symptoms and signs of vaginitis. Pelvic pain, fever, and chills, along with vaginitis, may require immediate medical care.

Complications Of Vaginitis In Children

Untreated vaginitis may not cure completely, and children may have itching and pain for a longer time. Injuries in the genital area due to repeated scratching and itching could increase the risk of secondary bacterial infections.

The child could have an increased risk of reinfections if a current infection is not adequately managed and treated. They may also have a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and develop pregnancy-related complications, such as low birth weight babies and premature birth, later in life. Increases the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and may lessen the success of fertility treatment as IVF.

Prevention Of Vaginitis In Children

Teaching good personal hygiene practices could help reduce the risk of vaginitis and its recurrence. Teenagers should receive sexual education to know about sexually transmitted infections and their prevention methods. You may also discuss with your daughter about hygiene practices during menstruation.

The following tips may help to avoid vaginitis.

  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet to prevent moving bacteria from the anal area to the vagina
  • Clear soap from the outer vaginal area after a shower and always pat dry the area
  • Try loose-fitting and breathable innerwear
  • Always use clean and dry cloths
  • Avoid hot tubs and baths
  • Avoid whirlpool spas
  • Do not use scented tampons or pads
  • Do not use harsh or scented soaps to wash the vagina
  • Avoid vaginal sprays and deodorants
  • Do not douche for cleansing the vagina

Having proper knowledge about vaginal hygiene measures could help to avoid vaginitis due to improper hygiene practices.

Diagnosis Of Vaginitis In Children

Pediatricians may review medical history and perform a pelvic exam to identify the type of vaginitis. Cervical or vaginal discharge samples are often collected for laboratory analysis. pH testing may help identify bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis since it may cause elevated pH levels (3).

Young girls may develop vaginitis due to sexual activity. Doctors may speak to the child and perform a further examination in cases of suspected sexual abuse, especially if young children are presented with vaginitis.

Treatment Of Vaginitis In Children

Vaginitis treatment can be specific based on the type and cause. These may include (3):

  1. Oral or topical antibiotics are prescribed in cases of bacterial vaginosis. An oral dose of Flagyl (metronidazole) tablets and topical Cleocin (clindamycin) cream, or Metrogel (metronidazole) gel is commonly used.
  1. Suppository or over-the-counter antifungal creams, such as Vagistat-1 (tioconazole), Monistat-1 (miconazole), or oral Diflucan (fluconazole), is used for the treatment of yeast infections.
  1. Tindamax (tinidazole) or Flagyl (metronidazole) tablets are prescribed for trichomoniasis.

These medications are prescribed after the confirmation of the diagnosis. You may seek expert help for the exact dosage and duration of treatment. Non-infectious vaginitis is usually treated by avoiding probable risk factors, such as new soap, sprays, or tampons.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can a little girl get vaginitis?

Yes, even girls as young as three to four (toddlers) can get vaginitis. This could be because they lack pubic hair and folded skin around the vaginal opening, which will protect the vulva from possible irritations and infectious agents (4).

2. Can vulvovaginitis go away on its own?

Mild vulvovaginitis might resolve without treatment. However, you must avoid the possible triggers (irritants and tight underclothes) in children. You should also get your child evaluated if they report any pain, fever, or vaginal discomfort (5).

Pain, irritation, and discharge in the vaginal area could indicate vaginal inflammation or vaginitis in children. It is usually caused by alterations in the microbial balance of the vagina. Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital for preventing long-term consequences. Hence, consult a healthcare provider if your child experiences any signs of vaginitis to avoid the risk of complications and reinfections. Further, you can reduce the risk of vaginitis in children by ensuring they maintain good personal hygiene and educating them about safety measures.

Key Pointers

  • Children may experience bacterial, fungal, or parasitic vulvovaginitis.
  • Perfumed soaps, tissue papers, scented detergents, hormonal changes, STDs, etc., are a few causes of vaginitis in children.
  • Vulvovaginitis may be characterized by itching, irritation, pain during urination, redness, light spotting, etc.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

MomJunction’s articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

  1. Vaginitis; John Hopkins Medicine
  2. Vaginitis; Planned Parenthood
  3. Vaginitis: Diagnosis and Treatment; The American Academy of Family Physicians
  4. Vulvovaginitis Toddler; Cleveland Clinic.
  5. Vulvovaginitis; The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.
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Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Dr. Bisny T. Joseph is a Georgian Board-certified physician. She has completed her professional graduate degree as a medical doctor from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. She has 3+ years of experience in various sectors of medical affairs as a physician, medical reviewer, medical writer, health coach, and Q&A expert. Her interest in digital medical education and patient education made... more

Dr. Rana Chanchal

Dr. Rana Chanchal is currently working as a senior consultant and head of the Department of Pediatrics and Neonatology at Charak Hospital and Research Center, Lucknow. He has completed under graduation and post-graduation in Pediatrics from King George's Medical University, Lucknow following which he completed a two-year fellowship in Neonatology from Manchester, UK. Dr. Rana has also done DCH from... more