Vaginitis (Child)

Your child has vaginitis. This means that the vagina is inflamed or infected. Symptoms can include redness, swelling, itching, or soreness in or around the vagina. Your child may also have pain or burning during urination.

Vaginitis has many possible causes. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Infection from germs such as yeast or bacteria.

  • Irritation from wearing tight clothing such as jeans or leggings. Underwear or pantyhose made of polyester or nylon may also cause irritation.

  • Sensitivity to chemicals in scented soaps, shampoo, toilet paper, or other bath products.

Treatment will vary based on the cause of your child’s problem.

Home care

Follow these tips when caring for your child at home:

  • If medicine is prescribed, give it to your child as directed. Make sure your child completes all of the medicine, even if she starts to feel better. Don’t use over-the-counter medicines without talking to your child’s healthcare provider first.

  • To help ease swelling, it may help to apply a cool compress to the affected area. Do this only as directed by the healthcare provider.

  • To help soothe irritation, have your child soak in a bath with a few inches of warm water a few times a day. Don’t add any bath products to the water. Also, don't wash the affected area with soap. Rinse the area and pat it dry instead.


The tips below may help reduce your child’s risk of vaginitis in the future. For more advice, talk with the healthcare provider.

  • Teach your child to wipe from front to back. This helps prevent germs in the stool from entering the vagina.

  • Have your child use only plain soap and bath products.

  • Have your child wear cotton underpants and less tight clothing. Also have your child change out of wet bathing suits or sports or workout clothing right away. These steps may help prevent irritation in the crotch area. They may also help prevent the buildup of heat and moisture, which can make infection more likely.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as directed.

When to get medical advice

Call the provider right away if:

  • Your child has a fever (see "Fever and children" below).

  • Your child’s symptoms get worse, or don’t go away with treatment or home care measures.

  • Your child is having trouble urinating because of pain or burning.

  • Your child has new pain in the lower belly or pelvic region.

  • Your child has side effects that bother her or a reaction to any medicine prescribed.

  • Your child has new symptoms such as a rash, joint pain, or genital sores.

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They include:

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years, a rectal temperature is the most accurate.

  • Forehead (temporal). This works for children age 3 months and older. If a child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not before.

  • Armpit (axillary). This is the least reliable but may be used for a first pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Mouth (oral). Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until he or she is at least 4 years old.

Use the rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass on germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider about your child’s fever, tell him or her which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your young child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child. Follow your provider’s specific instructions.

Fever readings for a baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

Fever readings for a child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher in a child of any age

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher in baby younger than 3 months

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

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