Ask an expert: Preschooler’s vaginal discharge

My three-year-old daughter has vaginal discharge? Is this normal?

Diane Sacks November 10, 2005

scared little face

Q: My three-year-old daughter has vaginal discharge. It doesn’t have a bad odour, nor is she itchy. Is this normal for a three-year-old?

A: The vagina is not well developed in a three-year-old, and there shouldn’t be any self-produced estrogen to cause vaginal discharge. The most common cause for discharge at this age is hormones derived from an outside source or infection.

Some of the skin creams moms use contain estrogen (unfortunately, not all of them list estrogen as an ingredient, so you’d have to check with the manufacturer) and, if a toddler comes in contact with this cream enough, she could experience hormone changes such as vaginal discharge, some puffiness of the vulva or even some breast development. So search this out.

Infection can be another cause. I have seen strep infections — transferred by little fingers from the nose to the vagina — that are clear and odourless. A culture will help define this and, if necessary, antibiotics will treat it.

Finally, sometimes a foreign object in the vagina, most commonly toilet paper, can cause discharge. If not removed, it can become smelly and the discharge becomes discoloured.


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