Urination Pain  
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Does this describe your child's symptoms?

  • Discomfort (pain, burning or stinging) when passing urine
  • In children too young to talk, suspect pain if your child begins to cry regularly while passing urine
  • Urgency (can't wait) and frequency (passing small amounts) of urination may be associated symptoms


  • Main cause in young girls: an irritation and redness of the vulva and opening of the urethra from bubble bath, shampoo or soapy bath water (soap vulvitis)
  • Any boy with painful urination needs his urine checked. Occasionally in young boys the urine is normal and the pain is caused by an irritation of the opening of the penis.  In teenage boys, pain can be due to inflammation of the urethra caused by a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Bladder or kidney infections (urinary tract infections) are possible at any age.

Return to School

  • Even if your child has a bladder infection, it is not contagious. Your child does not need to miss any school or child care.
When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
  • Not moving or too weak to stand
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Can't pass urine or only can pass a few drops
  • Blood in urine
  • Severe pain with urination
  • Fever is present
  • Abdominal, side or back pain
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • Painful urination, but none of the symptoms described above (Reason: possible bladder infection)
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR SOAP VULVITIS (until you talk with your doctor)

  1. Definition:  Soap Vulvitis is the most common cause of pain with urination in young girls.
    • Burning or stinging with passing urine
    • Vaginal itching or irritation may also be present
    • Prepubertal girl less than 10 years old
    • Uses bubble bath, bathes in soapy water or washes genitals with soap
    • To be sure she doesn't have a bladder or kidney infection, she usually needs to have her urine checked. The following treatment will reduce symptoms while awaiting your appointment.
  2. Baking Soda-Warm Water Soaks:
    • Soak for 10 minutes to remove irritants and to promote healing.
    • Add 2 ounces (60 ml) baking soda per tub of warm water (Reason: Baking soda is better than vinegar for girls not into puberty).
    • During soaks, be sure she spreads her legs and allows the water to cleanse the genital area.
    • Repeat baking soda soaks treatment 2 times per day for 2 days.
  3. Avoid Soaps:
    • Avoid bubble bath, soap and shampoo to the genital area because they are irritants.
    • Only use warm water to cleanse the vulva area.
    • Baby oil can be used to remove any dried secretions from the labia.
    • After puberty, soap can be tolerated.
  4. Increased Fluids: Give extra fluids to drink (Reason: to produce a dilute, nonirritating urine).
  5. Pain Medicine: To reduce painful urination, give acetaminophen every 4 hours OR ibuprofen every 6 hours as needed (See Dosage table).
  6. Contagiousness:  Even if your child has a bladder infection, it is not contagious. Your child does not need to miss any school or child care.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pain with urination becomes severe
    • Fever occurs
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011

Last Revised: 8/1/2011

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.