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It’s never too early to start teaching good hygiene practices to your children and accept the fact that it all starts with you. You should start using good hygiene practices - recommended by doctors and paediatricians - from the moment your child is born. And while most parents are told that bathing, diaper changes and generally keeping your baby and his or her surroundings clean is important, many fail to focus on genital hygiene.

This is not just because a baby’s genitals are very delicate and you need to take extra care while cleaning them, but also because genital care is not talked about openly due to the awkwardness around sexual health discussions in families around the world. You need to overcome this obstacle to be able to care for your baby’s genitals, keep them infection-free and healthy.

What’s more, the genital care methods you practice during your baby’s infancy and early childhood should be taught to them as they grow up, especially when you are teaching them bathing rituals or potty training them. Inculcating good genital care and hygiene habits can also boost your child’s self-esteem and confidence. This is the best way you can ensure that your child will follow these good hygiene practices all the way into their own adulthood and even teach them to your grandchildren in the future.

  1. Tips for babies of both sexes
  2. Genital cleaning tips for your newborn baby boy
  3. Genital cleaning tips for your newborn baby boy (circumsized)
  4. Genital cleaning tips for your newborn baby girl
  5. Doctors for How to clean your baby's genitals

Here are some general genital care tips you need to know, irrespective of your baby’s gender:

  • Use lukewarm water, mild liquid baby cleanser, sensitive baby wipes or soft cotton balls to clean the genitals. But don’t wash or wipe too often because that can irritate the skin.
  • Quick and regular nappy/diaper changes are a must, since either stool or urine, or both, sticking to or being transferred to the genitals can irritate the skin and cause rashes and infections.
  • Avoid using soap or cleansers which have alcohol or perfume.
  • Always pat dry and apply a mild barrier cream to avoid diaper rashes.

If your baby boy is uncircumcised, then genital care is generally easier, although you will still need to be gentle while doing so. In this case, the foreskin of your baby’s penis is not fully developed and cannot retract back from the tip of the penis. This development process happens by the time your child is two years old. Don't try to speed this process up in any way, as that might do more harm than good.

Do’s

  • Before the foreskin develops fully, you can gently wash and wipe around the baby’s penis and scrotum during bath times and diaper changes. You can do this with lukewarm water and safe cleansers. Pat the area dry and apply any cream recommended by the paediatrician to avoid rashes.
  • During this early stage, it is also important to note if the foreskin fills with urine, balloons out during urination, or becomes red, itchy and swollen. If any of these signs show up, you need to consult your paediatrician immediately.

Don’ts

  • Do not try to force the foreskin back to clean the head of the penis until it is fully developed. Doing this will cause your baby pain and may even lead to tearing or bleeding.
  • Do not use soap, alcohol-based or perfumed cleansers to clean the genitals. These can cause irritation, itchiness and infections.
  • Do not use hot water to clean your son’s genitals.

After your baby boy’s foreskin develops fully, you need to follow precise methods of cleaning the penis regularly. These are the steps you need to follow, and later teach your son so that he can follow it through to adulthood as well:

  • Gently pull the foreskin back.
  • Clean beneath the foreskin with warm water till all the smegma (white discharge) is gone.
  • Pour water over the staff in a gentle steady stream.
  • Dry it gently.
  • Gently pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis.

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin covering the head of the penis. This procedure, which is prescribed for religious, cultural or hygiene-related reasons across the world, is usually done soon after the baby boy is born or when he is two or three weeks old. The procedure does not take much time, and anaesthesia is always administered to make it painless.

Babies have very high clotting levels during the first three weeks, which makes any bleeding during or after the procedure more manageable. Doctors will cover the circumcision wound with gauze for at least 24 hours. Usually, the circumcision wound heals within a week or 10 days. Most hospitals conduct the procedure within 48 hours of the birth of the baby, but you can also consult a paediatrician to figure out when and how to do it.

Circumcision, though without major risks, does require extra care to be taken of your baby boy’s genitals. Here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Do’s

  • Change the diaper or nappy more regularly, since the circumcision wound can get infected if there’s prolonged exposure to stool and urine.
  • Clean the genitals very gently with lukewarm water and a fresh cotton ball. Ask your doctor if you should apply petroleum jelly or an emollient (softening cream) over the wound.
  • Post-circumcision pain relief measures for your baby boy must be taken according to your doctor’s recommendation. These usually include breastfeeding, mild pain medications for infants and sensitive topical creams.
  • If you observe any of the following signs after circumcision, call the doctor immediately:
    • Persistent bleeding
    • Fever
    • Pus-filled blisters
    • Greenish discharge
    • Inability to urinate normally within six to eight hours of circumcision
    • Worsening redness around the penis head over three days

Don’ts

  • Do not use soap, alcohol-based or perfumed cleansers to clean the genitals. These products may lead to a burning sensation, irritation and even rashes or infections in severe cases.
  • Scabbing, light bleeding and yellow discharge are quite normal after circumcision. While there is no need to panic, you must take care while cleaning the penis. Do not rub it.
  • Do not get the circumcision done if your baby boy was prematurely born.
  • Do not get the circumcision done if your baby boy was born with penile abnormalities as the foreskin may be needed for reconstructive surgery in some cases.

At birth and for the first few weeks, your daughter’s genitals, especially the labia or the outer lips of the vagina, may be puffy and red. You might also notice a bit of pink skin protruding from between the labia. This is the hymenal tag - it will slowly disappear as your baby girl grows up.

Here are a few things you must keep in mind while cleaning your daughter’s genitals:

Do’s

  • You may notice some vaginal discharge in your newborn girl for the first few days. This discharge occurs because of maternal hormones, and it is usually clear, white or slightly tinged with blood. There is nothing to worry about, but you need to clean this discharge with water and a fresh cotton ball to prevent it from sticking or causing infections. 
  • If your baby’s vaginal discharge does not stop within the first few weeks, or if it starts smelling foul, call the doctor immediately since this could be a sign of vaginal infection.
  • Always clean your baby girl’s genitals from front to back, even while giving her a bath or changing diapers. If you start cleaning from the butt towards the vagina, you might transfer bacteria to the vagina, and this can lead to irritation and infections.
  • Use lukewarm water and a fresh cotton ball or cloth to clean the genitals every time you change diapers or when the baby poops.
  • If your baby girl has pooped right before a bath, then clean her properly before placing her in the bathwater. This will help avoid any infections, especially if you are using lukewarm water for the bath.
  • Clean the genitals with a clean damp cloth or non-perfumed wipe if your baby’s poo is stuck to the genitals. Make sure to use a fresh wipe to clean each section: gently run a fresh wipe in the middle before cleaning the labia from the inside and outside. Always clean from front to back and away from the genitals to make sure you don’t transfer bacteria to the genitals.

Don’ts

  • Do not wash your baby girl’s genitals with hot water since this might harm the vaginal microflora and disturb the natural balance of her genitals. Always use lukewarm water or water at room temperature to wash the genitals.
  • Avoid using soap and alcohol- or perfume-based cleansers to clean your baby’s genitals. These can cause irritation and infections. Instead, use a mild, non-soap liquid cleaner while washing the genitals, unless otherwise recommended by your paediatrician.
  • If you notice the labia or vaginal lips of your baby are partially or totally fused together with just a little space open for the urine to pass, do not panic. This condition is called labial fusion, and it usually clears up naturally as your child reaches puberty. Do not try to force the labia open prematurely since this might cause pain and anxiety. Consult your paediatrician if your baby is not being able to pee properly.
  • Do not scrub or overwash the genitals while giving your baby girl a bath or while changing her diapers. This can lead to irritation, itchiness and loss of natural microflora balance in the genitals.
Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan

Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan

पीडियाट्रिक

Dr. Veena Raghunathan

Dr. Veena Raghunathan

पीडियाट्रिक

Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi

Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi

पीडियाट्रिक

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