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Dysuria, Child [Infection vs Chemical]

The urethra is the channel that passes urine from the bladder. In a girl, the opening of the urethra is above the vagina. In a boy, it is at the tip of the penis. "Dysuria" is the sensation of pain or burning in the urethra when passing urine.

Dysuria can be caused by anything that irritates or inflames the urethra. The cause for your child's dysuria is not certain. The most common cause of dysuria in young children is chemical irritation. Soaps, bubble baths, or skin lotions that get inside the urethra can cause this reaction. Symptoms will get better in 1 to 3 days after the last exposure.

Sometimes dysuria is caused by a bladder infection. A urine test can confirm this. A bladder infection requires treatment with an antibiotic.

Dysuria may also occur in young girls with inflammation in the outer vaginal area (rash or vaginal infection). Treatment is aimed at the cause of the outer vaginal irritation.

A vaginal infection may occur in a young girl and cause vaginal discharge and dysuria. This is diagnosed with a culture. It may require treatment with antibiotics.

Labial adhesions are a common cause in young females. Parts of the labia are attached together. Pain can occur if your child experiences a small tear.

Minor trauma as a result from activities or self-exploration can also lead to dysuria.

Rarely, dysuria is a result of local trauma from sexual abuse.

Home care

The following guidelines will help you care for your child at home:

  1. Washing the genitals gently with a face cloth and soapy water should not cause a problem. Be careful so that soap does not get inside the urethra. Be sure to dry the area well.

  2. If you believe bubble bath soap was the cause of urethritis, avoid bubble baths in the future.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your doctor as advised by our staff. If a culture specimen was taken, call for the result as directed.

When to seek medical care

Get prompt medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • Symptoms do not go away after 3 days

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) oral or 101.4°F (38.5°C) rectal or higher, or as directed by your health care provider

  • Inability to urinate due to pain

  • Increased redness or rash in the genital area

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina

 

 
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