24 answers

5 Year Old Girl with Hygiene Issues

Hi ladies - I was wondering if anyone out there had a good idea how to get a 5 year old to start taking better care of herself. We have a doctor's appointment again tomorrow for her 5th, 7th, hell maybe 10th (!) vaginal infection. She's had both bacterial, yeast and combination infections due to the simple fact that she refuses to wipe after using the restroom. I've cut most baths out, no scented soaps, remind her every time I see her going potty at home...but nothing seems to help. I can't be there all day when she's in preschool or when she's at her dad's, so I'm thinking there must be something motivational that would get her to do it on her own.

When she gets red and irritated down there she'll ask me to put ointment on, but I feel like that just adds to the problem because the medicine makes her feel better without teaching her how bad it is to not keep herself clean! Any and all ideas welcome. Thanks!

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Featured Answers

Hi A.,

My daughter had the same issues. What worked for me finnally was 2 or more changes of undies, and washing down there with a detachable shower head but on the softest stream. And use baby soap for sensitive skin. Also using the wipes when you cant do the shower. My daughter has seen such a change that she doesnt go too sleep with out a clean change of undies and a good shower.
Good luck.

I don't have any suggestions, but I noticed one mom responded wondering why you cut baths out. To that mom: I think A. means she is doing showers instead, not that she stopped bathing her. Baths can cause infections because you are sitting in water with bacteria. Showers are better hygiene.

More Answers

I've had many young girls in my care as well as my own 4. It's a tough age. Is she showering daily? She should be if she isn't. I think you should change your shower head to one of those that detaches from the wall and is a sprayer. You can help her spray down there so that she gets super rinsed off. Once per day should be enough to keep her from getting too bad.

Beyond that, get her some of those personal wet ones and tell her she must use one each time and that if she does she won't get sore. She'll figure it out pretty soon.

Also, if you think the medicine is keeping her from experiencing the pain of disobedience, then don't put any creams on. Next time she is sore you can explain that the only way to feel better is to keep herself clean.

Oh and I probably should have said this first. Girls that get this problem as easy as your daughter is probably not drinking enough water. It sounds like her urine is too strong and maybe too acidic. See if you can get her to eat blueberries and drink some cranberry juice. Also give her chewable vitamin c and don't worry about how much she eats of those. She CAN'T eat too much vitamin c and large doses of it cured me of 10 years of bladder infections.


1 mom found this helpful

A. I have to say that i can not tell you exactly what your daughter is thinking but I can tell you what I thought at her age. I was the same way about keeping myself clean, although I did not get as many infections. At her age my feet did not touch the floor when I used the toilet. I was terrified of falling in or off of the stool and too embarrassed to my mother of my fear. To sit on that toilet and then reach for tissue paper meant my feet were off of the floor and both hands were busy getting paper, there was no way to balance myself. I was not coordinated enough to do it that well. At one time I decided to take the paper off before I sat down, thinking that would make it easier. Again, it took cotorting myself to get down there and clean up, so I lost my balance and nearly fell off. I think I was a few years older when I decided to start using the paper after I was done and standing on solid ground. Of course it did not get me as clean but it was a start until I got big enough for my feet to touch the ground. Your daughter may not be misbehaving at all but just afraid of falling in. With the suggestion made of using the wet wipes, and her standing up afterward, she may be able to stay clean and feel better about it as well. Those are just my thoughts on the subject.

1 mom found this helpful

How about putting only baking soda in her bathwater & encouraging her to "soak a while". My ob recommended that to me years ago & it helped.
Maybe try some new undies too, if they're her favorite character, maybe she'll want to keep 'em cleaner or will take a little extra time in the potty.
Good luck!

Have to correct the wiping directions that were in an earlier response. Wiping MUST be done from FRONT TO BACK. Fecal material is loaded with bacteria. Also, cotton underwear will get damp and trap moisture next to the skin. If possible, get underwear made of material that wicks moisture away from the skin. Yeast requires warmth, moisture, and sugar to survive. Reducing blood sugar levels (sweets and breads push up blood sugar levels)and reducing moisture will make it easier to get rid of the infections.

Hi A.,

My daughter had the same issues. What worked for me finnally was 2 or more changes of undies, and washing down there with a detachable shower head but on the softest stream. And use baby soap for sensitive skin. Also using the wipes when you cant do the shower. My daughter has seen such a change that she doesnt go too sleep with out a clean change of undies and a good shower.
Good luck.

have you thought about getting her checked out by a psychologist specializing in younger children? we had issues wiht my child then four yo eating wood chips and chewing on her hair so we went that way after ruling out medical issues (which you seem to have done). there may be stress or other issues going on that a good c. psychologist could ferret out. some companies have this covered as a benefit so most cost covered? that is the case with my co. anyway just a thought.

It's probably been said on other responds, but I would buy some wipes. There are unperfumed, flushable kind, that would probably be best. Limit her foods that can add to the build up of yeast in the body; research yeast infections on google or yahoo, or webmd, and you can find which foods do that. I had a problem with my oldest granddaughter about wiping good after pooping. When she was 12, a nurse practicioner had to check a rash, and embarrassed her because of the mess that was there! Though she was 12 in years, sometimes her actions and play were no more than a 5 year old. Still "that young" 2 years later. But she's cleaner! Good luck. Jan in MO

My daughter is also five and doesn't always wipe well. Sometimes her private area gets red and irritated from her not wiping well. One thing that helps is I wipe her with a wet rag or have her wipe herself with a rag before bed so she is not sleeping all night with her privates dirty. Also, a little baby powder still helps keep the area dry.

My youngest daughter was the same way and still has issues today. Even though she is 10 she has gotten much better. She just didn't wipe well. I had to constantly remind her too. Then one day, it clicked with her and she got it. I think she was 8. We dealt with the infections too. Sometimes she was just red and we'd use Boudreaux's Butt Paste to help, it's great for brush burns and those lovely chaiffing rashes. My daughter would be stinky down there too and it drove me nuts. I was constantly reminding her to change her panties too. Your daughter will get it one day, I assure you. Give her some acidofolus (sp?) in her milk or yogurt or cereal, it promotes the good bacteria to help with fighting the bad bacteria. Good luck and God Bless.

Hi A.,
I have not read any of your other replies so if I am redundant I apologize. Moving her out of the tub, is a great idea. We had to do that with my little sister and my niece.
No bubble baths, no scented and/or unnatural soaps either.
Infact we used oatmeal bars only. Another idea I have is for the restroom, try maybe kando wipes for sensitive skin only and/or a baby wipe that is all-natural, hypoallergenic, toilet paper my just be too harsh for her. My son's bumm is really sensitive and he likes using pampers aloe baby-wipes and/or the kando sensitives. I hope this beneficial.
Good luck. God's Blessings. M. N.

Try letting her take more showers to keep herself clean. Also you might want to try the flushable wipes. My daughter doesn't want to wipe either and gets red down there but so far has not had an infections. Maybe it could be something other than just wiping herself. Maybe she is allergic to the soap you wash her clothes in, does she drink alot of juice because sometimes that can cause problems.

I think not putting ointment on it to teach her to clean herself would be cruel.

My 4 year old daughter recently had Vaginial Strep and she was so super sore I felt awful for her. Have your doc's swabbed her vaginal area and tested for a specific bacteria?

I would give her TLC, ointment, water, yogurt, have her change her panties in the a.m. and p.m. Maybe you need to talk to her dad also to try to help her. I agree once all this is tried and your doc can't find a medical reason I would seek a child therapist.

Good luck and remember she will only be this age once. They grow up too fast.

I don't have any suggestions, but I noticed one mom responded wondering why you cut baths out. To that mom: I think A. means she is doing showers instead, not that she stopped bathing her. Baths can cause infections because you are sitting in water with bacteria. Showers are better hygiene.

I agree with the yogurt that does help and keep her panties dry i heard silk is bad so cotten is the way.

Hi, my daughter who is 11 now, had the same problems when she was younger. After many infections, her wonderful pediatrician told us the miracle cure (at least for our house !) Her Dr (a female) told us that no little girl, or woman for that matter, should wear underwear to sleep. She said that it gives the area a chance to dry out overnight. We bought our daughter some long cotton nightgowns and did away with panties at bedtime. We just explained to her what the Dr had said, and she has been fine with it ever since. Also, she has NEVER had an infection since then, and she still doesn't wipe as well as she should. (never ending battle there !) For sleep overs and Grandmas or friends, we just make sure she takes a pair of baggy boxer shorts (they make them for girls too) to wear under her gown, or she will wear pj's that have pants, but no underwear. I also agree with teaching your daughter to use a washcloth and plain water to clean before bedtime, if she hasn't had a shower or bath that night. Our daughter is getting older and worried about acne, so we tell her to wash her face with the plain water first, and then clean her private areas. This is what I do as an adult also. Hope that helps ! Blessings to your family !

You can always buy books on girls and proper hygiene, Im sure they have them out there. Do some research on the computer.

My little girl is two, so I'm still in charge of her potty region. (I didn't realize this can be an issue since my older child is a boy...yikes!)

I just wonder what made you decide to cut out baths. It seems like sitting her bottom down in the bath each evening - even if it's just water and no soap - would help to cleanse all of the nooks and crannys.

Does she like the 'Kandoo' wipes or any of the moistened, flushable wipes? Maybe if she has a special kid container of post-potty fun wipes, she will be inspired to use them.

I wish you both the very best!

Why would you cut baths out!!! Please keep bathing her every other day without soap. Just soaking in a warm tub helps tremendously. That's what the doctor will recommend. Just use soap at the end for her hair and it should heal up perfectly. We are going through the same because my little one just started potty training (so she doesn't wipe well). 1 bath and she's fixed. Anyway, good luck!

Have you asked your doctor about the possibility she is being molested? I would think you should check that out.

My daughter has had the same problem in the past. It may not be entirely her fault. My daughter is built very narrow and the doc told us that kids who are built like her get them more frequently than other kids. Without sounding crude, if you look at her the next time you do have to put ointment on her, see how much skin she has over the opening to where she pees, if there is alot of it there, that could be part of her problem. We have had to teach my daughter to "squat" and wipe instead of still sitting on the toilet to do so. I keep those Can Do wipes in the bathroom for her so she can wipe with regular paper and then clean with one of those. I also make sure that she never takes a bath - always a shower and that she knows how to clean herself properly - with a mild soap. She showers everyday, sometimes twice a day if she has been outside when it is really hot and I know she has been sweating alot. She is almost 7 now and is doing much better with it. Good luck to you! E.

My SD (age 6, then 5)was having some hygien issues too. One of my daughters (7) brought it to my attention she wasn't changing her underwear. !!! She's not here everyday, so I easily missed this. I came out of my shell....but not in front of her. I talked to her about changing her underwear everynight, if she has a shower or not! Talked about the correct wiping. Wet wipes might be a good start for the healing process, just because plain tissue can be irritaing.
Once healing is complete I would go to TP again. I would do an award system. Make a chart, hang it on the bathroom door. Have her tell you when she's going to the potty. Have her show you she knows how to wipe the first few times, and correct her if she isn't doing it right, but still gets the sticker. Later you can outside the door with the door cracked and just make sure she wiped and award the sticker. If she didn't wipe, no sticker. Let her know you will be outside and will know. Make a plan together how many stickers equals what big award.... movie, toy, ??? Can add wash hands to this if thats a problem too. Good luck!!

Have you had her tested for lichens schlerosis? Lichens have all kinds of symptoms that are related to other things and usually goes undiagnosed as doctors keep apply treatment for what the problem seems to be. This is what happened with my daughter. It took a few months of repeatedly treating her for other things. It was so frequent that finally the doctor said to take her to a pediatric gynecologist and have her tested for lichens. My daughters lichens made her more susceptible to other illnesses. We were all focusing on the illnesses and not WHY. At first we couldn't see the forest through the trees.

Now we have the lichens under control and know how to treat it whenever there's a flare up.

take this back to basic responsibility & rewards: use a motivational chart system & stickers for each day that she is clean & dry....with an end goal of something favorite to do.

the next time the problem begins, remove priviledges until she fulfills her responsibilities....take away something that's a favorite & she'll get the picture soon enough. You could also have her do the laundry, which would carry her responsibility even further. Or how about making her responsible for disinfecting the toilet? I used this method to keep my sons on track when they got lazy & began NOT lifting the seat!

part of the problem is preschool/dad's....will they also cooperate in an effort to get your daughter on track? By combining these discipline measures with all of the other excellent ideas posted here (wet wipes, blueberries, cranberry juice)...you all should have a good game plan. & self-discipline is an important part of maturing.

Ooops, one more note: pump up the yogurt & eliminating all soda...should help, too.

I think you have gotten a lot of wonderful suggestions. The only thing I would add is to help her body with this problem with some acidolphilus. It promotes the growth of the healthy bacteria; both internally and externally. It is always recommended for females with vaginal issues, especially yeast infections. You can simply give her some good yogurt each day, or buy a children's chewable version. They also have it in a powder that you can sneak small amounts into the yogurt. I also agree with the other mom that suggested you give her a bath each night to soak the area clean; no bubbles etc. Best of luck!

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