A common symptom in preteen girls is pain with urination. Although it is important to consider a urinary tract infection (UTI) in this situation, the following conditions can cause painful urination because they irritate the tissues around a child’s urinary opening. These conditions are more common than UTIs. 

  • poor hygiene (or wiping in the wrong direction)
  • bubble baths
  • prolonged bathing where a child washes herself and then sits in a soapy tub
  • staying in a wet bathing suit for long periods of time during the summer

If your child has mild urinary symptoms without fever, vomiting or abdominal pain, you can consider trying to relieve her vaginal irritation by cleansing her bottom before taking her to the doctor. (Although it is helpful for dads to know about this problem, moms should usually be the ones to assist their daughters with treatment.) 

Fill an 8- to12-ounce plastic bottle with warm water (it is important that the bottle has a “nozzle” on top to so it will produce a stream of water when squeezed). Have your child sit on a toilet with her legs spread and her labia majora pulled to the side. Position the bottle a few inches from the vagina and gently shower the tissues with water. Do the procedure twice a day for a couple of days. If the symptoms increase or do not improve quickly, see your doctor.