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Vulvovaginitis – Information on the Safeguarding Support Unit

What is vulvovaginitis?

Vulvovaginitis is recurrent soreness or inflammation of the vulva (external female genitalia) which may be associated with vaginal discharge.

Mild vulvovaginitis is common and some girls will have vulvovaginitis many times. In most cases vulvovaginitis is not a serious problem and usually no medical treatment is needed.

Vulvovaginitis usually resolves at puberty.

What causes vulvovaginitis?

We can not always be certain what has caused vulvovaginitis, but there are a number of factors which may contribute. These include:

  • In some girls who have eczema or sensitive skin, the skin around the genitalia can also become irritated, which may cause vulvovaginitis
  • Products such as soaps, bubble baths and perfumes
  • Moisture or dampness around the genitalia may make girls more likely to develop vulvovaginitis. This can be made worse by tight clothing, being overweight or regular swimming
  • Threadworms can cause itching or irritation. This is usually worse at night.
  • Rarely, young children may have inserted small objects such as toys or toilet paper into the vagina. Over a period of time this will cause offensive discharge and irritation.
  • Bugs sometimes grow on swabs taken in vulvovaginitis. Usually these are normal skin bugs that do not need treatment. Very occasionally other bugs grow which will need antibiotics and further investigation, but your doctor will talk to you about this if needed.


In most cases vulvovaginitis can be managed at home.

The following list of suggestions may help:

  • Avoid bubble baths, soaps and scented products. Use unscented products, or plain water only
  • Wear loose cotton clothing and avoid tight jeans etc.
  • If your child is overweight consider seeking advice on maintaining a healthy weight, diet and exercise
  • Good toilet hygiene is important. This means wiping from front to back, not rubbing too hard, and ensuring that your child has dried themselves after weeing
  • Do not use lots of creams. Many creams have perfumes and irritants in them. Simple creams such as E45, or nappy rash creams may be helpful in improving the irritation and protecting the skin from moisture

Some parents have felt that the following home remedies are also helpful:

  • Avoiding fresh orange juice
  • Using live yoghurt or probiotics; either to eat or as a cream at night. This may put helpful germs in the area
  • Vinegar baths – add half a cup of white vinegar to a shallow bath and let your child soak for 10 to 15 minutes for a few days

If you are worried about your child, they are not improving, or you are concerned something more serious may be occurring please let your doctor know.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SFG17

Resource Type: Article

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