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Children's Health

Child health

05/11/2009

Question:

My little 6 year old niece complained that her private area was red and "itchy", her mom said that she needed to suffer the consequences of "playing with herself". Is it normal for a 6 year old child to "play with herself"? Could this be a yeast infection? Thank you

Answer:

Most children do masturbate, it is natural and part of growing up.  It is not possible to determine if she has a yeast infection or other reasons for the redness without examining her, so I would suggest that she be seen by her primary care provider.  The concern that I have is the "suffer the consequences" as it is unusual for any infection or irritation to result from masturbation (which should not be punished, but rather discussed as when it is appropriate to do it and where is appropriate).

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Response by:

Michael Spigarelli, MD, PhD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati