Candidiasis is a common infection that occurs in the mouth, vagina or nipples when there is an overgrowth in these areas of a particular fungal yeast, called Candida albicans. Other names for candidiasis include thrush, monilia or a yeast infection.…
Vulvovaginitis in girls
What is vulvovaginitis?
Vulvovaginitis describes inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) around the lower genital tract, specifically the vagina and vulva. It can be caused by infection with yeasts, parasites, bacteria or viruses, or it can also arise due to physical or chemical irritation. Some chemical substances that can contribute to vulvovaginitis include soaps, lotions and perfumes.
Vulvovaginitis can be caused by any of a large variety of infections and irritations.
- Bacteria in stools infecting the genital tract;
- Viral infections;
- Parasite infections (such as trichomoniasis or threadworm), and;
- Yeast infections (candidiasis) - rare in pre-pubescent girls unless they have type 1 diabetes, have recently undergone antibiotic treatment or have a weak immune system.
Chemical substances that can lead to vulvovaginitis in girls include:
- Shower gels;
- Fabric softeners and laundry detergents, and;
- Chlorinated water (as in swimming pools).
Factors that can cause vulvovaginitis through physical irritation include:
- Playing in the sand, which can lead to 'sandbox' vulvovaginitis;
- Irritation due to tight and/or wet underwear or bathers;
- Small foreign objects, and;
- Sexual abuse.
Risk factors for vulvovaginitis in girls include:
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of vulvovaginitis include:
Methods for diagnosis
Your doctor will diagnose vulvovaginitis by physical examination. A sample of vaginal discharge may also be taken for analysis.
Types of treatment
Treatment for vulvovaginitis depends on the cause of the inflammation. For bacterial infection, antibiotics are the preferred treatment; for yeast infections, antifungal cream; for chemical irritations, recognizing the source of the irritation and avoiding it, and so forth.
To treat the irritation, it may be helpful to run a warm bath for the child, or apply soothing creams that contain ingredients such as paraffin or castor oil.
Vulvovaginitis normally goes away if it is treated correctly.
Ongoing itching and discomfort can be emotionally distressing, particularly in younger girls. Scratching the itch can break the skin, which increases the chances of further infections.
You can lower the chance of vulvovaginitis in your child by:
- Reducing the use of soaps and gels, and choosing oil-based products.
- Not shampooing hair in the bath;
- Using plain, unperfumed toilet paper;
- Avoiding tight clothes and underwear;
- Preferring cotton underwear to synthetic fabrics, and;
- Changing nappies regularly in babies and younger girls.
- Murtagh, J., MD. (2011). John Murtagh’s General Practice (5th Revised edition.). North Ryde, N.S.W.: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing.
- Simpson, R.C. & Murphy, R. Paediatric vulvar disease. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
- Pierce, A.M. & Hart, C.A. (1992). Vulvovaginitis: causes and management. Archives of Disease in Childhood 67: 509–512.
- 1. Simpson R.C. & Murphy R. Paediatric vulvar disease. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Accessed from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S152169341400128X
- 2. Pierce A.M. & Hart C.A. (1992). Vulvovaginitis: causes and management. Archives of Disease in Childhood 67: 509–512.
- 3. Board A.D.A.M.E. (2012b). Vulvovaginitis. PubMed Health. Accessed from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/PMH0001899/
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- 5. Dei M. Di Maggio F. Di Paolo G. et al. (2010). Vulvovaginitis in childhood. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology 24: 129–137.
- 6. Eckert L.O. (2006). Acute Vulvovaginitis. New England Journal of Medicine 355: 1244–1252.
- 7. Giugno S. Risso P. Ocampo D. et al. (2014). Vulvovaginitis in a pediatric population: relationship among etiologic agents age and Tanner staging of breast development. Archivos argentinos de pediatría 112: 65–70.
- 8. Murtagh J. MD. (2011). John Murtagh’s General Practice (5th Revised edition.). North Ryde N.S.W.: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing.
- 9. Pierce A.M. & Hart C.A. (1992). Vulvovaginitis: causes and management. Archives of Disease in Childhood 67: 509–512.
- 10. Simpson R.C. & Murphy R. Paediatric vulvar disease. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Accessed from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S152169341400128X
- 11. Sobel J.D. (2007). Vulvovaginal candidosis. The Lancet 369: 1961–1971.
- 12. Vulval conditions. Better Health Channel. Accessed 24 September 2014 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Vulval_conditions
- 13. Vulvovaginal complaints in the prepubertal child. Accessed 24 September 2014 from http://www.uptodate.com/contents/vulvovaginal-complaints-in-the-prepubertal-child?source=search_result&search=vulvovaginitis&selectedTitle=2%7E150
- 14. Vulvovaginitis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 September 2014 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000897.htm
FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is vulvovaginitis?
Vulvovaginitis is inflammation of the skin of the female lower genital tract.
What are the symptoms of vulvovaginitis?
Symptoms of vulvovaginitis include: inflammation of the vagina and/or vulva, characterized by swollen, irritated, itchy and red skin; unusual vaginal discharge; an unpleasant odor from the vaginal area, and; a painful, burning sensation when …
What causes vulvovaginitis?
Vulvovaginitis can be caused by any of a large variety of infections and irritations, bacterial, viral or fungal infections, chemical irritations (from soaps and other detergents), or physical irritation ('sandbox vulvovaginitis' is common in young girls playing …
Who gets vulvovaginitis?
Women of all ages can get vulvovaginitis, but it is a common problem in young girls, particularly those aged 2-8 years old.
How is vulvovaginitis diagnosed?
Vulvovaginitis is diagnosed by physical examination. If infection is suspected, a swab will be taken to diagnose the type of infection.
How is vulvovaginitis treated?
Treatment of vulvovaginitis depends on the cause of the inflammation. For a bacterial infection, antibiotics are the preferred treatment; for yeast infections, antifungal cream; for chemical irritations, recognizing the source of the irritation and avoiding …
What can be done at home to treat vulvovaginitis?
To treat the irritation that vulvovaginitis causes, you can take warm baths and use creams containing paraffin, castor oil or another soothing ingredient.
How common is vulvovaginitis?
Vulvovaginitis is a common problem in young girls, particularly those aged 2-8 years old.