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Little girls and smegma

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
K, I have a very awkward question. My DD is 4. She hardly fits on the toilet yet and is not very good at wiping herself after going pee pee or poo. If I don't wipe her well from front to back with a baby wipe or wet cloth about twice a day, she'll end up with a smegma build up and a stink.
If she poops, I automatically do this for her as she can't wipe her own poopy bottom very thoroughly yet. But once in a while if a long stretch goes by and she hasn't pooped, I might forget to use a wipe on her that often and then... usually at bedtime when I'm putting a diaper on her, I'll notice the smell or worse, she'll even get a rash between her lips. It probably takes about 24 hrs. unwiped for her to get that smelliness.
Is this a phase that she will go through until she learns to wipe better? Will I just need to be sure and wipe her twice a day? Just wiping her with toilet paper after going potty isn't enough, btw, I've tried that. I've also tried giving her tub baths more often, but she is too old for me to wash down there very well and just the water doesn't get her clean enough. She also has dry sensitive skin and we don't like to bathe her daily as it seems unecessary. I try to tell her how to wash herself with a washcloth while she's in the bath, but she doesn't get the cheese out, kwim!? It's stil there and she'll still get smelly fast! Sorry, I know this is kinda an icky subject!
My older child is a boy and was circumsised and this is just foreign to me. He NEVER smells. We plan on not circing our boy due in Dec. Will he have this same problem with the stinkiness when he gets around this age? Everything I've read says that an uncirced boy is NOT smelly and does NOT need special cleaning, but that the bath will remove anything... Well, I'm having problems with DD, so I can see an uncirced boy having this problem, too. Any thoughts?
post #2 of 14

I curiously clicked on this thread, because smegma is the term for the buildup behind a boy's uncircumcised penis. I am sorry you are having such an uncomfy problem! I do know that once your uncirc'd son reaches about this age, he will need to be taught how to roll back his skin and wash himself, to prevent this buildup (and to flex the skin).

I have not experienced this. But, after reading your post, I do have some thoughts. First, definitely find a natural soap that won't bother her skin, and wash her with a cloth every night downstairs. That's how she will learn to do it well on her own. Yah, normally bathing in water is sufficient, but your situation isn't normal. I can't help but wonder if she has an infection.

But for the cause of such a dilemma....it sounds like maybe her chemistry and flora is out of whak. I would seriously consider her diet as a factor. It sounds like something, or things, she's eating are not agreeing with her. Lots and lots of fresh water, whole foods, consider cutting out sugar and dairy. Have her checked out, though by a doc (or naturopath, depending on your lifestyle), as this seems quite far from normal.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
post #3 of 14
My 4 y.o. dd gets irritated if she's not cleaned every day probably due to her wiping skills so on nights she doesn't bathe, we do a
'vagina wash" which is basically pouring warm water over her privates while she sits on the toilet - be sure to get the temp right. I also have an older circ'd son, 7, and a 4mo. old uncirc'd son. My cousin. who has 2 uncirc'd sons, 4 and8, told me to just splash water on the penis to eliminate build-up.-tracy
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
She had a check up recently and I didn't ask about this, but he checked her vulva and didn't say she looked abnormal. I didn't even wipe her down there before going, so it would look normal. She had a bath before we went and I told her to wipe herself clean there and then I got her dressed and took her in. After we got home from the appt., I checked to see what the doctor saw and there was definitely smega there. It wasn't stinky or anything, though, as she had been wiped off the night before. So I guess the doctor would have said something if something looked abnormal. She doesn't have any signs of infection unless I make a mistake and forget to wipe her for a couple days. Then it gets rashy and itchy and downright owy! But after that happened a couple times, I really try not to forget now.
I put this out on the diapering board and there were a couple moms who said they experience the same thing, so I guess it's just a phase I'll have to be diligent in helping her through 'till she's old enough to clean herself a little better.
I decided to talk to her thoroughly about hygiene last night at bathtime and diapering time to help her understand what she needs to do. I had her wipe during the bath and then when diapering for bed, propped a pillow behind her and explained to her what her vulva is and what smegma is... showed it to her and told her she needs to wipe that off and how... She really seemed to get it this time cuz she saw the smegma and I even had her smell it so she would understand how it can get a little stinky if you don't wipe it off. Then I let her wipe it off while looking at herself so she could make sure she got it all. I think this really got through to her and she will perhaps be better at wiping with TP and during bathtime. We'll see!
I think this has got to be much easier with a boy. They can see their genitals so much easier and pull the skin back in a way that makes smegma clearly visible and easy to get to to wipe or wash off!
Of course, all of us ladies eventually learn how to keep ourselves clean and cleaning ourselves is not even given second thought! Amazing how we take these little things for granted! It's just hard when they're at an age when they're so dependent and independent at the same time. They want take care of that stuff themeselves and we want them to! But they just don't quite have the coordination or dexterity yet! :/
post #5 of 14
Take Elise's advice and look at diet. Tracy's suggestion of water washs (get her a peri bottle if that's easier) should be enough, If plain water most of the time is not enough, something is strange whether it's a child or an adult. The existence of smegma is not a bad thing, it's normal thing. Being overly diligent about removing it, for me, causes irritation by itself either from the soap, or washcloth, etc disturbing the normal state of things, so just proceed gently Are you using a lot of bathtub additives? Maybe try a more neutral soap? Too tight clothing, or not breathable enough (like synthetic tights?) There are flushable adult wipes (like baby wipes). Would they be easier for her in the short term? Or regular washloths, but with plain water.
post #6 of 14
Also make sure that she sleeps with no undies on. Undies at night when little ones get really warm can cause a lot of moisture build up.
If it is itchy and she scratches is that was causes the irritation? I had a fungal infection (think jock itch or athlete's foot) that caused MAJOR itching. Some antifungal cream for two weeks and cleared it right up.
I noticed that it got worse when I slept with undies on too.

Does your daughter get UTI's and bladder infections?
post #7 of 14
Sounds like an infection. probably either bacterial or yeas. For kids who are just learning to wipe and aren't very skilled at it, it would be easy for stuff to get dragged into places it doesn't belong. A bacterial infection looks a lot like a yeast infection. Causes discharge and oders and sometimes itching and inflamation. Definitely check with her Dr. on this. It is pretty easy to clear up. Until then just make sure she gets clean and dry after every vistit to the bathroom.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
She is still cloth diapered at night as she wets pretty much every night, so leaving her bare bottomed at night is not practical. She doesn't have a bath more than twice a week due to dry sensitive skin and a dry climate. She sometimes gets very mild eczema and I find that it flares up when we bathe her more. She isn't into getting messy or dirty, so it's not necessary except for the femenine hygiene issue. When we do bathe, we don't use anything in the water. Right before getting her out we use Dr. Bronners liquid Castille soap on her hair, bottom, and body, but not in her vaginal area as I have read soap can cause irriatations, then rinse her off with the sprayer and get her out. We've used other mild hypoallergenic soaps in the past and nothing seems to cause/prevent problems, only frequent bathing seems to cause her problems, but not vaginal problems.
I'm pretty sure she doesn't get itchy first. The only time her vulva has been rashy or itchy has been when I've neglected to keep her clean those few times. If she was having a fungal itch I believe she would get it regardless of wiping her or not. This only happens if I forget to wipe her at all for a full couple of days or more, which has only happened about 4? times in the last...year? (since she was fully day trained) When I diaper her at night, the smelliness is usually warning enough to catch it before it turns into something irritating for her. But you know... sometimes DH diapers her... sometimes you diaper in a rush.... DH absoultely refuses to wipe DD clean. He thinks it's inappropriate! That it therefore has to be my job :
Ya know, it just makes complete sense and I really should have realized how this transition requires continued diligence on my part. I mean, she pees at night, takes off her wet diaper in the morning and goes and puts on clean underwear. It's fine to not wipe a bottom after a baby goes pee pee when diapering, because soon they poop and get all wiped off and all is well. But in this situation, if I'm not bathing her daily, she obviously should be wiped once a day and I haven't always done that because I just didn't give it any thought. It's just different and something out of our routine. I've never saw smegma or smelled her get that specific cheesy smell before she was potty trained because she got wiped often enough for it to never be an issue, and like I said, DS NEVER gets ANY smegma... never needs to have his penis wiped... so it's just kinda different to me.
I'm not sure about the plain water in the tub being enough. If she doesn't get in there with her fingers or a cloth and wipe it out, how is it supposed to come off? It's trapped between the folds, so it would make sense if left to accumulate that it would start to get stinky between baths. I suppose if I gave her a bath EVERY night it would be enough to keep it from getting stinky, but like I said, I don't give her one daily and don't plan to start. When I said more frequent baths weren't enough, I meant like every 2 days. If 2 days go by in between with no wiping, that's long enough for her to get cheesy and stinky, I've found. The peribottle wash is a good idea for when she is no longer wetting at night, but for now, I think it's easier to just wipe her at bedtime when I diaper her. It was not accurate for me to whine about needing to wipe her twice a day to prevent this. I realize I was exaggerating. If she gets wiped well once at diapering or in the morning, it's enough to keep her from getting stinky. And that's not such a big deal. I guess I just jumped the gun in thinking I was all done with this and just need to realize that my days of wipes and diapers with her are just not quite over with yet!
bebeh20 (Elise?), you seemed unaware that smegma is present in girls at all from your response. The entire animal kingdom produces smegma, and we females produce more of it than uncircumcised males, so I'm not sure why you point out that it is a term used for that which is produced by uncirced boys, unless you were trying to correct my usage of it in relation to girls.
After talking to other moms since I posted this, I've gotten enough "yeah I experience that, too... they need to be wiped once a day or they can get stinky and it can lead to an owy/itchy vulva...") that I'm pretty confident she isn't infected or out of balance. Like I said, she has been seen very recently, and the doctor checked her there and did not find anything to comment on. I'm actually surprised no one but Tracy on this board has experienced this and seem to find it abnormal, now that I've heard back from SEVERAL moms elsewhere who have gone through the same experience after potty training. My mom was like, "ahf codrse, hija! Jou hof to wash her pano evedy day!" :LOL My mom is spanish with a thick accent.
post #9 of 14
DD is 5 and still not potty-trained at night yet. I've been teaching her how to wash out the folds of her vulva well when she takes a bath (about twice per week) and I wipe her about 2-3 times per week. Like you, if I forget, she gets red and irritated. I always figured it was normal because I know she doesn't wipe well. I'm sure she will outgrow it as she learns to take more responsibility for her hygiene.
post #10 of 14
Until I read this post I had forgotten all about this problem. My 4 y.o. used to have the same thing happen - dry, itchy skin, stinky vulva at bedtime, even if I wiped. It was quite a problem, unpleasant to hold her or be near her if she wasn't bathed every day, which of course irritated the rest of her body. Somehow it worked itself out. She only bathes 1-2 times a week and is now completely independent in the bathroom, and her diet is probably worse now in terms of sugars and yeasts - but she smells fine and has no complaints.
post #11 of 14
Just thought I'd pipe up and say my dd also gets pretty cheesy and stinky if I'm not vigilant about her getting washed. I mean she is so stinky I can tell if it has been more than two days just by being next to her. Her skin can tolerate bathing every other day, so that's what we do. She gets down in between the folds with her soapy fingers (we use a mild, natural soap, usually a baby soap) and then rinses. My job now is just to remind her to do it, but when she was your dd's age was probably about the time I stopped doing it myself and teaching her to do it. What you did with the pillow and mirror sounds like it worked great. If I'd been unable to bathe my dd less than every other day, I'm sure we would have had to come up with some sort of feminine hygiene routine as well.
post #12 of 14
I have an intact 4 year old boy and he is never stinky. I bathe him every other night in plain water and the only washing I do down there is the shampoo that rinses down from his head. I am mentioning this because you said you are expecting a boy and intend leaving him intact. If ds produces smegma I never see it or smell anything as it is rinsed away in his bath. Also, I'd like to stress how important it is NEVER to retract an infants or childs
foreskin in the attempt to clean it. Until the child himself reveals that the foreskin has retracted (and it can take until puberty) it should be left alone and externally rinsed. Since you are to have an intact son, yet another new experience for you, I would like to
recommend visiting the "Case Against Circumcision" board for some excellent advise and information on the care of the intact
penis. Good luck to you, Marilyn.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Marilyn! I have a one particular Mothering article I love to refer to for what you are talking about.
I post it a lot for people when this subject comes up, because it is so very important to know this stuff since it seems you can't even always trust your pediatrician to know!
I was concerned that perhaps the smegma issue in regards to boys was being understated because of what I was experiencing with dd, but after thinking about it, realize that it's probably easier for it to come off of little boys (whose skin is retractable) because of its more "out there" location! :LOL
And btw, I'd like to say, doing a google search for info on "smegma" brings up a lot of garbage!! I was so irritated! Some people are so sick!
post #14 of 14
I'm so glad so many have had written about this. DD has had this same stuff since being potty trained as well.she's now four and still has it. She has had only 1 UTI and never a yeast infection. This seems to be completely unrelated, and just a hygene issue as many have said. The ped. agrees--every time i ask her! I keep thinking something is wrong with her. Nope! Normal. No diet change seems to make a diff., not even adding tons of acidophilus.

My DS is about 19 months. He has had a UTI, which makes me wonder....am I supposed to be retracting his uncirc'd foreskin even slightly to clean it? I'm wondering how he got a UTI since the doc said it's rare for boys. He went through the testing for blockage and reflux and everything and turned out normal, which made me think of the cleaning issue. My mom's insistent that eh should be thoroughly cleaned. I've never pulled back on it AT ALL, just washed the outside thinking it will retract on its own and when it does, THEN it will need to be washed under there. What do you think?
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