South African Family Practice

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Paediatric vaginal discharge

M R Makwela


Vaginal discharge in the prepubertal patient is a common symptom, and can be a source of distress for the caregiver and concern
for the healthcare worker. Several factors predispose these patients to the development of recurrent vaginal discharge.
Unless noticed by the caregiver, this problem can persist for long periods of time.
Making a diagnosis in the prepubertal patient requires physician skills different from those required for diagnosis in the adult
population. The history may often be difficult to obtain, and at times inaccurate or inconsistent. Common anatomical variants
have to be considered during examination. Sexual abuse of children continues to be a serious problem in our society. Vaginal
discharge is often the only presenting symptom. A high index of suspicion is required in order to make a diagnosis. Common
causes of vaginal discharge in this group of patients will be looked at. Physical examination techniques and treatment of specific
causes will not be discussed here.

South African Family Practice Vol. 49 (7) 2007: pp. 30-31
AJOL African Journals Online