Vaginitis

by Dr. Gregory Gordon

vaginitis “My 2 and a half year old daughter has had a recurrence with vaginal discharge (dark yellow) and no other symptoms. I am a microbiologist and I performed a urine culture (negative) and a vaginal culture that grew out normal vaginal flora). I took her to the pediatrician this morning with this information and the doctor only tested her for strep (negative) and informed us not to give bubble baths and apply diaper rash cream. What is your opinion?”

Vaginitis, or vulvovaginitis, is an extremely common issue. I see girls with vaginitis daily in my pediatric practice. Often parents have never heard of it and seemed uncertain of the diagnosis.

Most cases of vaginitis occur in potty trained girls usually 3 or 4 years old. Anything “itis” means “inflammation of.” Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, while vaginitis is inflammation of the vaginal area. Signs and symptoms of vaginitis include pain with urination, itching, external redness, foul odor and discharge.

Vaginitis is typically the result of poor hygiene, especially wiping the wrong way. This back to front wiping moves intestinal bacteria into the vaginal area. Bubble or soapy baths can indirectly cause vaginitis. Sitting in soapy water can remove a girl’s normal, irritant protective vaginal mucus. Lack of normal vaginal mucus makes an individual susceptible to irritation. In Florida, we often see cases of vaginitis secondary to prolonged wet bathing suit wearing.

Before treating a child for vaginitis, it is important to make sure they do not have a urinary tract infection or UTI. Both vaginitis and UTIs are common causes of painful urination. Children with UTIs are usually sicker and they may have fever, frequent urination, or abdominal or back pain.

There are many home remedies used to treat vaginitis. My favorite is vinegar baths. Place one cup of white vinegar in a warm, soap-free bath. Have your daughter sit and play in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the tub. Wash her with soap in a shower (so she doesn’t smell like vinegar). Give her vinegar baths as needed for symptoms. Most symptoms respond after only one bath.

If she is still uncomfortable after the vinegar bath, it is fine to apply a diaper rash cream, but I doubt she will need it. If her symptoms worsen or do not improve, visit your pediatrician.

Dr. Gregory Gordon

Dr. Gregory Gordon


Dr. Gregory Gordon grew up in Gainesville, Florida. He attended the University of Florida for both his undergraduate and medical degrees. After he completed his pediatric residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, he joined Pediatric Associates of Orlando. Dr. Gordon is the proud father of eight children. He is the Vice President of “The Gift of Swimming” (a local charity that provides swim lessons to Orlando’s needy children). In early 2010, encouraged by his patients, he started gregorygordonmd.com to share his pediatric and parenting experience.

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