Vaginitis in Teens

Vaginitis is any inflammation or
infection of the vagina. It’s a common problem in girls and women of all ages. It
develops when the walls of the vagina become inflamed because of an infection or
irritant. 

Bacteria, yeast, viruses, and
chemicals can cause vaginitis. The most common types are:

  • Yeast infection. This is caused by
    one of the many species of fungus known as candida. These normally live in the vagina
    in small numbers. Candida may also be in the mouth and digestive tract in both boys
    and girls. Infection happens when something upsets the normal balance. For example,
    antibiotics can kill bacteria that normally balances the amount of yeast in the
    vagina. Too much yeast grows, causing an infection. Another cause can be pregnancy,
    which changes hormone levels. Diabetes can also be a cause because of too much sugar
    in the urine.
  • Bacterial vaginosis. This infection
    is caused when certain types of normal vaginal bacteria grow out of control and cause
    inflammation. 
  • Trichomoniasis (trich). This is a
    sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a parasite. This parasite passes
    between partners during sexual contact. Most boys don’t have symptoms with
    trichomoniasis. So the infection is often not diagnosed until a girl has vaginitis
    symptoms.
  • Viral vaginitis. Viruses are a common
    cause of vaginitis. Most are spread through sexual contact. The herpes simplex virus
    (HSV) can cause viral vaginitis. The human papillomavirus (HPV) can also cause viral
    vaginitis. Both of these are spread through sexual contact.
  • Noninfectious vaginitis. This is
    vaginal irritation without an infection. It’s most often caused by an allergic
    reaction or irritation. Chemicals in vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicides can
    cause it. It may also be caused by perfumed soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners.
    Even chemicals in clothing can cause symptoms.

A girl is more at risk for
vaginitis if she:

  • Has recently taken antibiotics
  • Is pregnant
  • Has diabetes that is not
    well-controlled
  • Has HIV
  • Is using an immunosuppressant
    medicine
  • Is using high-estrogen
    contraceptives
  • Is having corticosteroid therapy,
    which weakens the immune system

Symptoms can occur a bit
differently in each girl.

The symptoms of a yeast infection
can include:

  • A thick, white, odorless vaginal
    discharge that is like cottage cheese
  • Itching and redness of the vulva and
    vagina
  • Pain with urination or sex

The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis
can include:

  • A thin, white fluid from the
    vagina
  • A thick, gray or green fluid from the
    vagina
  • Fishy smell to the fluid

The symptoms of trichomoniasis can
include:

  • Frothy, greenish-yellow fluid from the
    vagina that smells musty
  • Itching or burning in and around the
    vagina and vulva
  • Swelling or redness at the opening of
    the vagina
  • Light bleeding, especially after
    sex
  • Burning during urination
  • Pain in the lower belly (abdomen)
  • Pain during sex
  • No symptoms, in some cases

The symptoms of viral vaginitis can
include:

  • Pain in the genital area from sores,
    if the cause is HSV
  • Painless warts on the vagina, rectum,
    vulva, or groin, if the cause is HPV. But a girl may have the virus without visible
    warts.

The symptoms of noninfectious
vaginitis can include:

  • Vaginal itching or burning
  • Fluid from the vagina
  • Pelvic pain, especially during sex

The symptoms of vaginitis can be
like other health conditions. Make sure you see your healthcare provider for a
diagnosis.

The healthcare provider will ask
about your pre-teen or teen’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give you child
a physical exam. The physical exam may include a pelvic exam. Your child’s provider may
also check vaginal fluid under a microscope.

Treatment will depend on your
teen’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on the cause and how
severe the condition is.                                         

Yeast infection

Treatment may include:

  • Antifungal vaginal creams and
    suppositories
  • Vaginal tablets
  • Antifungal medicines that are taken
    by mouth (oral)

Bacterial vaginosis

Treatment is with
antibiotics.

Trichomoniasis

Treatment is done with oral
antibiotics. All sexual partners need to be treated. This is to prevent the infection
occurring again.

Viral vaginitis

Treatment depends on the
cause:

  • This virus can be treated with
    antiviral medicine. These include acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. These
    medicines don’t kill the virus. But they can decrease the pain and shorten the
    length of the outbreak.
  • Most HPV infections go away within
    6 to 12 months. Some infections last and can lead to cancer of the vulva, vagina,
    or anus.

Noninfectious vaginitis

Treatment is done by finding out
what caused the reaction or irritation, and removing it from use.

Talk with your teen’s healthcare
provider about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.

HPV is the main cause of cervical
cancer in women. 

An HPV vaccine can prevent
infection by the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. The vaccine also helps
prevent genital warts as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina, and anus. The
vaccine is given to children and young adults ages 9 to 26, ideally before they become
sexually active. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.

Call the healthcare provider if
your teen has:

  • Symptoms that don’t get better, or get
    worse
  • New symptoms
  • Vaginitis is any inflammation or
    infection of the vagina. It’s a common problem in girls and women of all ages. It
    develops when the walls of the vagina become inflamed because of an infection or
    irritant. 
  • Bacteria, yeast, viruses, and
    chemicals can cause vaginitis.
  • The symptoms of vaginitis can include
    pain, itching, burning, sores, fluid from the vagina, and other problems.
  • Treatment may include medicines. The
    type of medicine depends on the cause.
  • An HPV vaccine can prevent infection
    by the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.

Tips to help you get the most from
a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what
    you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down
    questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a
    new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new
    instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment
    is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects
    are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be
    treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is
    recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does
    not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you r child has a follow-up
    appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s
    provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have
    questions or need advice.