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The Basics: Your Daughter's Painful Urination

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The Basics: Your Daughter's Painful Urination

Dec 12, 2022

Is your young daughter complaining about painful urination when using the bathroom? It could be more than a urinary tract infection. Girl parts can be very sensitive, especially between the ages of potty training and puberty. Pediatrician Cindy Gellner, MD, explains the most common causes of pain or irritation in the vagina or vulva, how to prevent them, and what treatments can provide relief to your daughter.

Episode Transcript

So your daughter comes to you and says, "It hurts to pee." Is it automatically a urinary tract infection? Not so fast. Girl parts are super-sensitive, especially between the ages of potty-training to puberty, and there could be a few things going on. So how do you know what the problem is?

Diagnosing UTIs in Children

First, your daughter would need to be seen. We cannot diagnose urinary tract infections in girls over the phone. We need them to actually come into the office and pee so we can do a urinalysis test. That will show if she has a UTI or if she's dehydrated and her burning with urination is due to concentrated urine.

It will also show if there is blood in the urine or any signs of diabetes as well, which doesn't cause burning with urination, but does cause frequent urination, which is another sign of a possible UTI.

Treatments for UTIs in Children

If your daughter does have a UTI, we can treat her with antibiotics while sending her urine off to get a culture at the lab and find out what type of bacteria is causing her UTI and make sure she's on the correct antibiotic.

If your daughter does not have a UTI, then we need to ask a few more questions, like is she drinking enough water? Does she take bubble baths? Is she wiping too hard? Is she wiping at all? Is she wiping in the right direction? Does she have any vaginal symptoms? And yes, we have to ask if anyone has touched her inappropriately down there.

Based on those answers, we can talk about treatments. Will drinking more water help? What about cranberry juice? Which may or may not help, depending on what's going on. Does she need any special creams for her private area? Does she need to work on better hygiene? If she is sexually active, do we need to test for chlamydia or gonorrhea? Is this not a urinary issue but more a vaginal issue?

What NOT to do for Your Child's UTI

Everything is in such a small space in that area that it can be hard to figure out what is going on and what the correct treatment is.

I've had parents ask me about certain home remedies that I can tell you, you should not do. Don't do the following. Don't have your daughter douche to clear out the UTI.

Similarly, I had one mom tell me that she was told to soak a tampon in probiotic kefir and insert it in her vagina to treat a UTI. Neither of those will help because a UTI is in the urinary system and inserting something into the genital system won't help. Just because they're in close proximity doesn't mean that they are treated the same.

Don't put random creams in or on your daughter's privates without finding out what the main cause of her symptoms are. Sometimes, that will make the problem worse.

And don't give antibiotics that were left over from a previous infection, because not all antibiotics will treat urinary tract infections.

So if your daughter has girl-part issues, please bring them in to be seen by their pediatrician. We can help you figure out exactly what is going on and what is best to help them feel better.