By its nature, the vagina contains some secretions that moisturize it and protect it from infection. This does not depend on the age of the girl, so it is normal and healthy to find the vagina slightly moist and we notice vaginal secretions in infants and older children as well.
However, what is worrying is that these secretions increase and appear more often than usual at such ages. In the article, we discuss the reasons for the increase in vaginal secretions in infants and young girls.
Vaginal discharge in baby girls
Vaginal secretions in infants are characterized by small quantities, and their color is clear, white, or light yellow, and is not accompanied by any odors.
Mothers worry when vaginal secretions increase in girls and their color changes to dark yellow or green, especially if it is accompanied by an unpleasant smell emanating from the vagina, and the girl feels burning, and the desire to itch around the vagina. (2)
Causes of vaginal discharge in children
A 1993 study was conducted at Kettering General Hospital, which provides a specialized service for children and adolescent girls with gynecological diseases, the aim of the study was to investigate the cause of vaginal discharge in children, and to determine whether the causes are common or rare.
110 girls between the ages of four and eight were subjected to the study. The study indicated that most of the causes of vaginal discharge in children are due to the following points:
- Vulvovaginitis: It is most common among girls under puberty with 82%, despite the ease of treatment and the response of the disease to simple hygiene measures.
- The chance of being sexually assaulted is 5%.
- Foreign bodies: The introduction of a foreign body such as toilet paper or crayons causes infection with vaginal secretions, in a percentage of 3%.
- Labial adhesions, 3%.
- Incomplete formation of the vagina, by 2%.
Vaginal discharge in baby girls is one of the most common gynecological symptoms among girls before puberty. (1)
Other causes of vaginal discharge in infants
There are other less common causes of vaginal discharge in infants, including the following:
- Using soaps, deodorants, scented paper products, fabric softeners, creams, and ointments in the vaginal area.
- Fungal vaginitis.
- Pinworms (an infection that affects the anus and is easily transmitted to the vagina).
- Neglecting hygiene, which is the most important cause of vaginal discharge in infants.
The above causes may cause symptoms such as itching, and redness, in addition to the appearance of vaginal discharge in girls. (3)(4)
Vulvovaginitis and vaginal discharge in children
Vulvovaginitis includes inflammation of the vagina and the area around it from the outside, which is the vulva, and is the most common cause of vaginal discharge in children.
Vaginitis and vulvovaginitis are more common in girls before the following reasons:
- Estrogen deficiency: The amount of estrogen secreted in a girl’s body does not increase until she reaches puberty. Estrogen deficiency causes tenderness and sensitivity of the skin in and around the vagina, which makes it irritable.
- The proximity of the space between the vagina and the anus: The vagina is easily exposed to infection from the stool that comes out of the anus, due to the small distance between them in children.
- Hygiene: Incorrect cleaning methods and wiping from back to front increase the chances of picking up bacteria and germs from the anus to the vagina and urethra.
- Absence of pubic hair: Pubic hair protects the vagina from germs and foreign bodies.
- Absence of labial fat pads: These pads protect the vagina from infection.
- Diaper rash, which is one of the most common causes of vaginal discharge in newborns.
Vulvovaginitis (the main cause of most cases of vaginal discharge in children) may occur as a result of a bacterial or fungal infection such as yeast infection, which is rare in girls before puberty, except in cases of taking antibiotics frequently, or in diabetic patients, or girls suffer from of a problem with the immune system.
Girls who suffer from recurrent yeast infections in the vagina are recommended to consult a doctor, as it may be an important symptom of another health condition, and yeast infection is characterized by the appearance of white vaginal discharge in children in the form of a lumpy cheese-like, accompanied by itching, swelling, and redness. (2)(4)